Hollywood has lost a legend! On Wednesday, iconic actor Kirk Douglas died in Los Angeles at the age of 103. Throughout his storied career, the star made a name for himself in such films as Spartacus, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Champion and many, many more. A fighter through and through, Kirk survived a helicopter crash in 1991 and a severe stroke in 1996 to ultimately become a centenarian.
Kirk’s son Michael Douglas confirmed the news and celebrated his dad’s life and legacy in a touching social media tribute on Wednesday night. “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 set a standard for all of us to aspire to,” Michael wrote on Instagram.
“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,” he continued, ending with, “Dad – I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.”
In his poignant post, Michael emphasized that while Kirk was many things to the world, he was “simply Dad” — as well as a beloved father-in-law, granddad, great-granddad, and husband — to the Douglas family. Michael’s wife, Catherina Zeta-Jones, shared a close relationship with her father-in-law and honored as much with a post of her own. “To my darling Kirk, I shall love you for the rest of my life,” she wrote. “I miss you already. Sleep tight…”
Friends and colleagues also took to social media to share their memories of Kirk and express their sympathies to his loved ones. Actor Bryan Cranston tweeted, “Thinking about Kirk Douglas and his family tonight. Not only was he a towering presence in film history, he also risked his career and financial stability to do the right thing to help break the Blacklist. That kind of heroism makes all of us stand up and shout, I AM SPARTACUS.”
Steven Spielberg also mourned the loss, saying in a statement, “Kirk retained his movie star charisma right to the end of his wonderful life, and I’m honored to have been a small part of his last 45 years. I will miss his handwritten notes, letters and fatherly advice, and his wisdom and courage — even beyond such a breathtaking body of work — are enough to inspire me for the rest of mine.”
Spielberg certainly wasn’t exaggerating about Kirk’s charisma. In 2008, at the age of nearly 92, he penned an op-ed for Newsweek extolling the virtues of growing old. “When I tell people that I’m ‘living on the house’s money,’ they laugh, and then I add, ‘I don’t buy green bananas; they take too long to ripen,'” he joked. “Humor helps longevity.”
And in all seriousness, the iconic actor seemed especially grateful for the people around him in his twilight years. “The ticking of a clock makes you aware of and appreciate the time you have with your children and grandchildren,” he wrote. “You wonder how they will deal with the problems they face after you are gone. You want to do what you can to make it easier for them and for younger generations.”