American actor Kirk Douglas died on Feb. 5, 2020, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, at age 103. Douglas was prolific during his over 60 years acting career, accumulating nearly 100 acting credits in film and television and establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s golden age biggest stars.
Among Douglas’s earliest film roles were those in what are now considered classic film noirs, including “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” and “Out of the Past,” in the latter of which he appeared alongside Robert Mitchum. He appeared in the Oscar-winning “A Letter to Three Wives” in 1949, and in 1950, he received a nomination for his lead role in the boxing film “Champion” — one of three nominations he’d receive throughout his career.
Though the actor never won an Oscar in competition, he received an Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1996 “for his 50 years as a creative and moral force in the film community.”
While introducing Douglas for the award, director Steven Spielberg praised the Hollywood icon for helping “hammer the blacklist to pieces” — a reference to Douglas’s insistence on hiring blacklisted writer and Communist Party member Dalton Trumbo to work on “Spartacus” and crediting them for their work.
“Spartacus,” perhaps the actor’s most recognizable role, marked the second time Douglas worked with director Stanley Kubrick, following World War I film “Paths of Glory” (1957). Over the years, Douglas would work with numerous prestigious filmmakers, including Billy Wilder, Jacques Tourneur, John Sturges, Howard Hawks, Otto Preminger, and Elia Kazan. Here is who won the Oscar for Best Director the year you were born.
In honor of Kirk Douglas’s life and career, 24/7 Tempo has identified 20 of his greatest movies based on reputation amongst critics and filmgoers, and online user ratings from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).