Kirk Douglas 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 66 years and 92 film/tv credits later he is still going.
He quips that he is now better known as “Michael Douglas’ father,” although that is hardly the case with classic movie fans. As the actor’s close friend, the late Jack Valenti, wrote: he is the last surviving Hollywood global superstar, not counting a much younger Clint Eastwood. These bigger-than-life characters reigned from the late 1930’s to the early 1970’s.
Although it seems that many of us of a certain vintage have known Kirk Douglas forever (he turns 98 in December) we may not know as much about him as we think. This Monday Quiz, based on the actor’s own writings in his 2007 memoir, Let’s Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving and Learning, will put your knowledge to the test.
So please forge ahead and take our Kirk Douglas Quiz. (Answers tomorrow.)
1) Question: Douglas has four sons from two marriages, and pressed each to follow his footsteps and become actors. a) True; or b) False.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.