Michael Douglas - biography
Michael Kirk Douglas (born September 25, 1944) 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.
Douglas was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the first son of actor Kirk Douglas and Bermudian actress Diana Dill. His paternal grandparents, Herschel Danielovitch and Bryna Sanglel, were Jewish immigrants from Gomel in Belarus (at that time a part of the Russian Empire). 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 (b. 1947), and two younger half-brothers, Peter Douglas (b. 1955) and Eric Douglas (1958–2004).
Douglas attended the Allen-Stevenson School, the International School of Geneva, and graduated from Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1960 and The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut in 1963. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1966, where he is also the Honorary President of the UCSB Alumni Association.
Douglas started his film career in the late 60s and early 70s 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. Douglas considered playing the starring role, but decided against it after considering himself too old. The lead role went to a young Jack Nicholson, who ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Actor. Still, Douglas won the Award for Best Picture for producing it.
After leaving Streets of San Francisco in 1976, Douglas appeared in the medical thriller Coma in 1978 and Running in 1979. 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.)
Success in Hollywood
Douglas's acting career propelled to fame when he starred in the 1984 romantic adventure comedy Romancing the Stone. The film was a respectable hit and earned over $86,572,238 worldwide in box-office receipts and an additional $36 million in video rentals. It also helped launch Kathleen Turner to stardom, reintroduced Douglas as a capable leading man, and gave Bob Zemeckis his first box-office success. It was followed a year later in 1985 by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.
1987 gave Douglas more hits, when he starred in the 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 paired with Kathleen Turner for the 1989 film The War of the Roses, also with 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 (directed by David Fincher), 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.
In 2003, Douglas starred in It Runs in the Family, which featured three generations of his family (his father, Kirk; and his son, Cameron). The film, however, was a commercial failure. Douglas did not star in a movie for three years, until the 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 (Eric McCormack); 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; [Paul] 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".
Douglas was set to star in Tragic Indifference, a courtroom thriller based on a landmark liability case against Ford Motor Company, according to Variety. Douglas will play the attorney who took Ford to court on behalf of a single mother from Texas who was paralyzed and nearly died after an accident. The trial exposed the automaker's indifference to flaws in its Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV). The movie will be based on Adam Penenberg's 2003 book of the same name. Douglas will play Attorney Tab Turner, who represented Donna Bailey after the Ford Explorer SUV she was riding in rolled over following a Firestone tire failure.
On December 17, 2007 it was announced that Douglas was to be the new voice at the beginning of NBC Nightly News, some two years after Howard Reig, the previous announcer, retired.
Douglas married Diandra Luker, 14 years his junior, on March 20, 1977, after 6 weeks of dating. They had one son, Cameron (born December 13, 1978). 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. In 2000, after 23 years of marriage, Diandra divorced Douglas.
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 (born August 8, 2000) and Carys Zeta (born April 20, 2003).
Douglas and Zeta-Jones hosted the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway, on December 11, 2003. They acted as co-masters of ceremony in the concert celebrating the award given to Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Douglas and his family divide their time among their homes in Pacific Palisades, California; New York City; Aspen, Colorado; Bermuda; Majorca, Spain; Swansea, Wales, Ridgewood, New Jersey, and La Conception, Quebec.
Douglas is an advocate of nuclear disarmament, a supporter of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and sits on the Board of Directors of the anti-war grantmaking foundation Ploughshares Fund. In 1998, he was appointed UN Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is a notable Democrat and has donated money to Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd, and Al Franken. He has been a major supporter of gun control since John Lennon was murdered in 1980.
In 1997, New York caddy James Parker sued Douglas for USD$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.
It was announced on August 16, 2010, that Douglas was suffering from throat cancer and will undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. On August 31, 2010 Douglas appeared on Late Show with David Letterman and confirmed that the cancer is at an advanced stage IV.
- In 2009 Douglas joined the project "Soldiers of Peace", a movie against all wars and for global peace.
- Douglas lent his support for the campaign to release Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman, who after having been convicted of committing adultery, was given a sentence of death by stoning.