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Michael Douglas (1944)

Michael Kirk Douglas

Type :  

  Summary  

Michael Kirk Douglas is an American actor and producer, primarily in movies and television. He has won three Golden Globes and two Academy Awards; first as producer of 1975's Best Picture, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and as Best Actor in 1987 for his role in Wall Street. Douglas received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2009. He is the eldest of actor Kirk Douglas's four sons.

  Biography  

 early life
Douglas was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the first child of actor Kirk Douglas and Bermudian actress Diana Dill. His paternal grandparents, Harry Demsky and Bryna Demsky (née Sanglel), were Jewish immigrants from Gomel in Belarus . His mother and maternal grandparents, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Melville Dill and Ruth Rapalje Neilson, were natives of Devonshire Parish, Bermuda. Thomas Dill served as Attorney General of Bermuda and was commanding officer of the Bermuda Militia Artillery. Douglas has a younger brother, Joel Douglas , and two paternal half-brothers, Peter Douglas and Eric Douglas (1958–2004).

 career
 Early years
Douglas started his film career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, appearing in little known films like Hail, Hero! and Summertree. His first significant role came in the TV series The Streets of San Francisco from 1972 to 1976, where he starred alongside Karl Malden. Douglas later said that Malden became a "mentor" and someone he "admired and loved deeply". After Douglas left the show, he had a long association with his mentor until Malden's death on July 1, 2009. In 2004, Douglas presented Malden with the Monte Cristo Award of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1975, Douglas received from his father, Kirk Douglas, the rights to the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Michael went on to produce the film of the same name with Saul Zaentz. Kirk Douglas considered playing the starring role himself, having starred in an earlier stage version, but chose against it, considering himself too old. The lead role went instead to a young Jack Nicholson, who would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. Douglas won the Award for Best Picture for producing the film.

After leaving Streets of San Francisco in 1976, Douglas played a hospital doctor in the medical thriller Coma , and in 1979 he played the role of a troubled marathon runner in Running. In 1979, he both produced and starred in The China Syndrome, a dramatic film co-starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon about a nuclear power plant accident (the Three Mile Island accident took place 12 days after the film's release). The film was considered "one of the most intelligent Hollywood films of the 1970s."

 Success in Hollywood

Douglas' acting career was propelled to fame when he produced and starred in the 1984 romantic adventure comedy Romancing the Stone. It also helped launch Kathleen Turner to stardom, reintroduced Douglas as a capable leading man, and gave director Bob Zemeckis his first box-office success. It was followed a year later by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, which he also produced.

The year 1987 saw Douglas star in the horror thriller Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close. That same year he played tycoon Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's Wall Street for which he received an Academy Award as Best Actor. He reprised his role as Gekko in the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in 2010, also directed by Stone.

Douglas again paired with Kathleen Turner for the 1989 film The War of the Roses, which also starred Danny DeVito. In 1989, he starred in Ridley Scott's international police crime drama Black Rain opposite Andy García and Kate Capshaw. The film was shot in Osaka, Japan.

In 1992, Douglas had another successful starring role when he appeared alongside Sharon Stone in the film Basic Instinct. The movie was a box office hit, and sparked controversy over its depictions of bisexuality and lesbianism. In 1994, Douglas and Demi Moore starred in the hit movie Disclosure focusing on the topic of sexual harassment with Douglas playing a man harassed by his new female boss. Other popular films he starred during these decade were Falling Down, The American President, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Game , and a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic - Dial M for Murder - titled A Perfect Murder. In 1998, Douglas received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.


In 2000, Douglas starred in Steven Soderbergh's critically acclaimed film Traffic, opposite Benicio del Toro and future wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. That same year, he also received critical acclaim for his role in Wonder Boys as a professor and novelist suffering from writer's block. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama as well as several other awards from critics.

 Types of roles
According to film historian and critic David Thomson, Douglas was capable of playing characters who were "weak, culpable, morally indolent, compromised, and greedy for illicit sensation without losing that basic probity or potential for ethical character that we require of a hero." Critic and author Rob Edelman points out similarities in many of Douglas's roles, writing that in some of his leading films, he personified the "contemporary, Caucasian middle-to-upper-class American male who finds himself the brunt of female anger because of real or imagined sexual slights."

These themes of male victimization are seen in films such as Fatal Attraction , with Glenn Close, War of the Roses , with Kathleen Turner, Basic Instinct , Sharon Stone, Falling Down , and Disclosure , with Demi Moore. For his characters in films such as these, "any kind of sexual contact with someone other than his mate and the mother of his children is destined to come at a costly price." Edelman describes his characters as the "Everyman who must contend with, and be victimized by, these women and their raging, psychotic sexuality."

Conversely, Douglas also played powerful characters with dominating personalities equally well: as Gordon Gekko, in both versions of Wall Street, he acted the role of a "greedy yuppie personification of the Me generation," convinced that "greed is good;" in Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, he played an idealistic soldier of fortune; in The Star Chamber , he was a court judge fed up with an inadequate legal system, leading him to become involved with a vigilante group; and in Black Rain , he proved he could also play a Stallone-like action hero as a New York City cop.

 Actor and producer
Having become recognized as both a successful producer and actor, he describes himself as "an actor first and a producer second." He has explained why he enjoys both functions:


"I love the fact that on one side, with acting, you can be a child — acting is wonderful for its innocence and the fun. . . On the other side, producing is fun for all the adult kinds of things you do. You deal in business, you deal with the creative forces. As an adult who continues to get older, you like the adult risks. It's flying without a net, taking chances and learning. I was never good in economics or business — had no business background, you know, and I like it."

He has also offered reasons why he has become successful in both acting and producing:"I think I'm a chameleon. I think it's something that I possibly inherited early on as a child going back and forth between two families. I know that whether it's right or wrong, I have an ability to sort of fit into a lot of different situations and make people feel relatively comfortable in a wide range without giving up all my moral values. I think that same chameleonlike quality can transfer into films. I think if you can remember the reason you got involved with it in the first place and try to keep that impulsive, instinctive feeling even when you're being beaten down or exhausted or waylaid, you'll be successful."

 Recent years

In 2003, Douglas starred in It Runs in the Family, which featured three generations of his family . The film, although a labor of love, was not successful, critically or at the box office. Douglas starred in the solid commercial action flick Don't Say a Word, then the poorly received action-thriller The Sentinel in 2006. During that time, he also guest-appeared on the episode, "Fagel Attraction", of the popular television sitcom Will and Grace, as a gay cop attracted to Will Truman ; the performance earned Douglas an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Show.

Douglas was approached for Basic Instinct 2, but he declined to participate in the project. He said:
"Yes, they asked me to do it a while ago, I thought we had done it very effectively; Verhoeven is a pretty good director. I haven't seen the sequel. I've only done one sequel in my life, The Jewel of the Nile, from Romancing The Stone. Besides, there were age issues, you know? Sharon still looks fabulous. The script was pretty good. Good for her, she's in her late-40s, and there are not a lot of parts around. The first one was probably the best picture of her career—it certainly made her career and she was great in it".

 personal life
 Family


After filming Summertree , he began dating Brenda Vaccaro. The relationship lasted for about six years.

In March 1977, 33 year old Douglas married 19 year old Diandra Luker, the daughter of an Austrian diplomat. They had one son, Cameron, born in 1978. In 1997 Diandra filed for divorce and was awarded $45 million as her settlement.

Dating since March 1999, Douglas married Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones on November 18, 2000. They were both born on September 25, though 25 years apart. Zeta-Jones says that when they met in Deauville, France, Douglas used the line "I want to father your children." They have two children, Dylan Michael and Carys Zeta .

They planned on renewing their wedding vows in 2010 as part of their 10th wedding anniversary. The idea was hers, and came after Douglas was found to have advanced stages of cancer. One report notes that "Michael was in tears when she suggested it to him," and he sees it as a “wonderful expression of love.”

Douglas, the son of a Jewish father and an Anglican mother, has declared no religious affiliation.

 Citizenship
Douglas is a U.S. citizen by birth in the United States and has Bermudian Status through his mother's birth in Bermuda.

 Skiing accident and rehab
In 1980, Douglas was involved in a serious skiing accident which sidelined his acting career for three years. In September 1992, the same year Basic Instinct came out, he underwent treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction at Sierra Tucson Center.

 Legal problems
In 1997, New York caddy James Parker sued Douglas for $25 million. Parker accused Douglas of hitting him in the groin with an errant golf ball, causing Parker to lose a testicle and his job. The case was later settled out of court.

 Stalking
In 2004, Douglas and Zeta-Jones took legal action against stalker Dawnette Knight, who was accused of sending violent letters to the couple that contained graphic threats on Zeta-Jones' life. Testifying, Zeta-Jones said the threats left her so shaken she feared a nervous breakdown. Knight claimed she had been in love with Douglas and admitted to the offences, which took place between October 2003 and May 2004. She was sentenced to three years in prison.

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  • Starman
    Executive producer
    1986

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Michael Douglas", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.