"Kirk's life was well-lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come," his son, Michael, said in a statement.
Actor Kirk Douglas, one of the last surviving icons of Hollywood's golden age, has passed away at the age of 103. The stage and screen acting legend is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anne, and sons Michael, Joel, and Peter. The Spartacus star's death comes just days before the 92nd Academy Awards and as news of his passing emerged, fellow thespians took to social media with heartfelt tributes to the man who helped shape Hollywood into what it is today.
Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas honored his late father in a touching statement posted on Instagram. "It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in setting a standard for all of us to aspire to. But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great-grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband," the 75-year-old stated.
"Kirk's life was well-lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet. Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son," Michael concluded. His wife and Kirk's daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta-Jones shared a photo of the two together, writing, "I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already."
Born in New York in 1916, Kirk Douglas rose to prominence during Hollywood's golden age. He received his first Academy Award nomination for Champion in 1950 and the second in 1953 for the Hollywood exposé The Bad and the Beautiful. He was nominated once again in 1957 for his performance as Vincent Van Gogh in the biopic Lust for Life but it was only in 1996 that he got to take home his first Oscar when the Academy honored the actor for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the industry, reports PEOPLE.
“I wanted to be an actor ever since I was a kid in the second grade. I did a play, and my mother made a black apron, and I played a shoemaker. After the performance, [my father] gave me my first Oscar: an ice cream cone.” -Kirk Douglas— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 5, 2020
Goodbye to a Hollywood legend. pic.twitter.com/vnu1Hkb2FA
According to BBC's Peter Bowes, more than his work as an incredible actor, Douglas was proud of his role in ending the Hollywood blacklist. The actor famously defied the ban on working with blacklisted artists with alleged communist ties or sympathies. The late actor credited "the impulsive qualities of younger Kirk" for his decision to hire blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo with a screen credit under his own name for the 1960 classic, Spartacus. "It was such a terrible, shameful time. Dalton was in prison because he refused to answer questions, so I decided, the hell with it! I’m going to put his name on it. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of because it broke the blacklist," Douglas told PEOPLE in 2016.
In addition to being one of the leading actors of his time, Douglas also devoted his time and finances to philanthropy. The star and his wife donated millions of dollars to charitable causes and helped construct hundreds of school playgrounds. He previously revealed that the couple lived by the philosophy: "Before you die, try to do something for other people." However, in recent years, the legend's image has been tainted with controversy. Following his appearance at the Golden Globes in 2018, a number of Twitter users brought up an anonymous blogger's allegation that Douglas raped actress Natalie Wood when she was 16, referencing a 2012 article on Gawker that laid out the details emerging from the comments section of a show-business blog.
A number of celebrities took to social media to remember the late acting legend, including Star Trek's William Shatner, who wrote on Twitter: Condolences to the family of Kirk Douglas. What an incredible icon he was in this industry! Another Star Trek alum, George Takei tweeted: Legendary actor Kirk Douglas has passed on today at the age of 103. An Academy Award-winning actor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Douglas was a champion for many just causes and lived a long and storied life. He was adored and beloved, and he shall be missed.
Bravo Kirk Douglas on an incredible life. Thank you for so generously sharing your amazing talent with all of us. The film we made together will always hold a special place in my heart. My love to Anne & your beautiful family. #KirkDouglas— Mitzi Gaynor (@TheMitziGaynor) February 5, 2020
KIrk Douglas will always be an icon in the pantheon of Hollywood. He put himself on the line to break the blacklist. My love goes out to my friend Michael and the whole family.— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) February 5, 2020