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Shawn Dwyer

Happy Birthday, Kirk Douglas

By December 9, 2011

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SpartacusIt's hard to believe that Kirk Douglas is 95 years old today. Having been a star of countless classic movies in his seven decade career, Douglas is without a doubt the greatest living Hollywood legend.

Douglas was famous for playing "sons of bitches," as he called them, and first came to prominence opposite Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past, one of the best film noirs ever made. He earned his first Academy Award nomination playing a selfish boxer in 1949's Champion, and the year before began a fruitful seven-film collaboration with Burt Lancaster in the under appreciated noir I Walk Alone.

Douglas became a major box office star in the 1950s and starred in a number of successes like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He earned Oscar nominations for The Bad and the Beautiful and for his portrayal of tortured artists Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life, before starring in Stanley Kubrick's anti-war epic, Paths of Glory. Douglas also played the titular slave in Kubrick's sword-and-sandal epic, Spartacus, but the two had a falling out and never worked again.

After the excellent paranoid thriller Seven Days in May and a co-starring role opposite John Wayne in Otto Preminger's In Harm's Way, Douglas' star began to fade. Over the next few decades, he made several notable appearances while watching his son, Michael, follow in his footsteps to become a top box office star.

Though he never one an Oscar for his performances, the Academy gave him an Honorary Award in 1996.

Kirk Douglas leads the slave revolt in 'Spartacus'/Universal Pictures


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