How much did you know about our man, Kirk Douglas?
As mentioned Friday, he began his movie career with a bang in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, a provocative 1946 film noir costarring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin, and maintained a gangbusters, fast-aced star career over some 95 film/tv credits.
Douglas died last Wednesday at the age of 103.
Although it seems that many of us of a certain vintage knew him forever we may not have known as much about Douglas as we thought. Our Quiz, based on the actor’s own writings in his 2007 memoir, Let’s Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving and Learning, is designed to put your knowledge to the test.
Here are the answers to our Kirk Douglas In Memoriam Quiz.
(Rest In Peace, Kirk.)
1) Question: Douglas had four sons from two marriages, and pressed each to follow his footsteps and become actors. a) True; or b) False.
1) Answer: b) False. Douglas subscribes to the Noel Coward-inspired dictum, “Don’t Put Your Daughter (or Son) on the Stage.” He told his most successful actor-son, Michael, that his college performance in As You Like It was “awful.” He would have preferred that Michael would have studied to be a lawyer.
2) Question: Which one of the following actors received a fan letter from young, aspiring actor Kirk, and never bothered to answer it? a) Gary Cooper; b) Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; c) Charles Laughton or d) Erich von Stroheim.
2) Answer: c) Charles Laughton. Douglas wrote him a “fan letter” in 1939, the year he graduated from St. Lawrence University and the year The Hunchback of Notre Dame was released. Douglas inquired about acting technique. He never got an answer. Years later, producer-star Douglas hired Laughton for Spartacus. Douglas wrote, Watching him perform answered a lot of my questions.
3) Question: It’s no secret that Douglas disliked his real name (Issur Danielovitch), and changed it early. Who suggested his marquee name? a) Gary Cooper; b) longtime friend Karl Malden; c) Ivan Daniels; or d) the director of a summer stock theater, who blurted out the marquee moniker.
3) Answer: d) An unnamed director of a summer stock theater blurted out “Kirk Douglas.” It stuck. The stock company included Douglas’ friend Karl Malden whose real name is Mladen Sekulovich.
4) Question: One of Douglas’ frequent male costars was Burt Lancaster. How many movies did Douglas and Lancaster make together? a) 12; b) 7; c) 9; or d) 10.
4) Answer: Douglas and Burt Lancaster made b) 7 movies together.
5) Question: Blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was hired to write the screenplay for Douglas’ 1960 epic Spartacus under a pseudonym. Which one of the following is the pseudonym? a) Hy Hollinger; b) Irving Horowitz; c) Sam Jackson; or d) Clark Smith.
5) Answer: c) Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted screenwriter of Spartacus, assumed the pseudonym of “Sam Jackson.”
6) Question: Stanley Kubrick, who replaced Anthony Mann as the director of Spartacus, suggested to Douglas (who produced and costarred in the picture) that he put Kubrick’s name on the screen as the writer of the picture even though he had nothing to do with the script. a) True; or b) False
6) Answer: a) True. Douglas was appalled by the young (mid-Twenties) Stanley Kubrick’s suggestion that his name be billed as the screenwriter of Spartacus. Wrote Douglas: I was shocked. Kubrick’s suggestion inspired producer-actor Douglas to publicly acknowledge the blacklisted screenwriter’s real identity — I’ve decided to use Dalton Trumbo’s name on the screen, Douglas announced. At the time (1960) it was a daring thing to do.
7) Question: Douglas and producer-director Otto Preminger had a celebrated spat at the commercial height of their careers. What was it about? a) The division of profits on a film they had planned together; b) Gypsy Rose Lee, who was a romantic conquest of Preminger’s; c) About which of the two was first to publicly credit blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo; or d) Which of the two would be likely to take over a major studio.
7) Answer: c) When producer-director Otto Preminger, then making the epic Exodus, found out that Trumbo’s real name would be credited as Spartacus screenwriter, he called Douglas: Are you crazy? Don’t do dat. When Preminger realized Douglas’ mind was made up, he organized a press conference to announce that he would give credit to Dalton Trumbo as the writer of Exodus. Wrote Douglas: Otto was a smart producer. He didn’t want to be caught using a nom de plume for Dalton Trumbo when I was using Trumbo’s real name.
8) Question: Which of the following does Douglas believe to be the dumbest casting decision of his career? a) Turning down Lee Marvin’s part in Cat Ballou; b) Turning down William Holden’s leading role in Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17; c) Turning down the role of General Electric spokesperson that Ronald Reagan employed as a platform to enter politics; or d) Turning down the role of championship golfer Ben Hogan.
8) Answer: Apologies. This is a trick question. The right answer is “all of the above” from a) to d). Douglas feels each was dumb.
9) Question: Douglas was not a method actor but did “lose” himself in one particular role. Which one? a) Vincent van Gogh in Lust For Life; b) the title role in Spartacus; c) Col. Dax in Paths of Glory; or d) Jack Burns in Lonely Are The Brave.
9) Answer: a) Vincent van Gogh in Lust For Life, the only role that demonstrates to me the process of erasing myself and becoming another character, recalled Douglas.
10) Question: The elderly Douglas has survived several physical ailments over recent years. Which one of the following has he not grappled with? a) Physical aftereffects of a helicopter crash; b) A stroke; c) Installation of a pacemaker; or d) Hepatitis C.
10) Answer: d) Hepatitis C.