Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians
Michael Kirk Douglas (born September 25, 1944) is a Jewish American actor and producer, primarily in movies and television. Michael Douglas has won three Golden Globes and two Academy Awards; 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. Michael Douglas received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2009. Michael Douglas is the eldest of actor Kirk Michael Douglas's four sons.
Early life and education
Michael Douglas was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the first child of actor Kirk Douglas and Bermudian-born actress Diana Dill. His paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Gomel in Belarus (at that time a part of the Russian Empire). His mother was from Devonshire Parish, Bermuda; Michael Douglas's maternal grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Melville Dill, served as Attorney General of Bermuda, as a Member of the Parliament of Bermuda (MCP), and as commanding officer of the Bermuda Militia Artillery. Michael Douglas has a younger brother, Joel Michael Douglas (born 1947), and two paternal half-brothers, Peter Douglas (born 1955) and Eric Douglas (19582004), from stepmother Anne Buydens.
Michael Douglas attended The Allen-Stevenson School in New York City, The Choate Preparatory School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut. Michael Douglas received his B.A. in drama from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1968, where Michael Douglas was also the Honorary President of the UCSB Alumni Association. Michael Douglas studied acting with Wynn Handman at The American Place Theatre in New York City.
Michael Douglas started his film career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, 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 Michael Douglas starred alongside Karl Malden. Michael Douglas later said that Malden became a "mentor" and someone Michael Douglas "admired and loved deeply". After Michael Douglas left the show, Michael Douglas had a long association with his mentor until Malden's death on July 1, 2009. In 2004, Michael 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, Michael Douglas received from his father, Kirk Michael 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. Kirk Michael Douglas considered playing the starring role himself, having starred in an earlier stage version, but chose against it. The lead role went instead to Jack Nicholson, who would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. Michael Douglas won the Award for Best Picture for producing the film.
After leaving Streets of San Francisco in 1976, Michael Douglas played a hospital doctor in the medical thriller Coma (1978), and in 1979 Michael Douglas played the role of a troubled marathon runner in Running. In 1979, Michael Douglas 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). The film was considered "one of the most intelligent Hollywood films of the 1970s."
Success in Hollywood
Michael Douglas' acting career was propelled to fame when Michael Douglas produced and starred in the 1984 romantic adventure comedy Romancing the Stone. It also helped launch Kathleen Turner to stardom, reintroduced Michael Douglas as a capable leading man, and gave director Robert Zemeckis his first box-office success. The film also starred Danny DeVito, a personal friend of Michael Douglas' since they had shared an apartment in the 1960s. It was followed a year later by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, which Michael Douglas also produced.
The year 1987 saw Michael Douglas star in the horror thriller Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close. That same year Michael Douglas played tycoon Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's Wall Street for which Michael Douglas received an Academy Award as Best Actor. Michael Douglas reprised his role as Gekko in the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in 2010, also directed by Stone.
Michael Douglas again teamed with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito for the 1989 film The War of the Roses. In 1989, Michael Douglas starred in Ridley Scott's international police crime drama Black Rain opposite Andy Garcνa and Kate Capshaw. The film was shot in Osaka, Japan.
In 1992, Michael Douglas had another successful starring role when Michael Douglas 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, Michael Douglas and Demi Moore starred in the hit movie Disclosure focusing on the topic of sexual harassment with Michael Douglas playing a man harassed by his new female boss. Other popular films Michael Douglas 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, Michael Douglas received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
In 2000, Michael Douglas starred in Steven Soderbergh's critically acclaimed film Traffic, opposite Benicio del Toro and future wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. That same year, Michael Douglas also received critical acclaim for his role in Wonder Boys as a professor and novelist suffering from writer's block. Michael Douglas was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama as well as several other awards from critics.
Types of roles
According to film historian and critic David Thomson, Michael Douglas was capable of playing characters who were "weak, culpable, morally indolent, compromised, and greedy for illicit sensation without losing that basic probity or potential for ethical character that we require of a hero." Critic and author Rob Edelman points out similarities in many of Michael Douglas's roles, writing that in some of his leading films, Michael Douglas personified the "contemporary, Caucasian middle-to-upper-class American male who finds himself the brunt of female anger because of real or imagined sexual slights."
These themes of male victimization are seen in films such as Fatal Attraction (1987), with Glenn Close, War of the Roses (1989), with Kathleen Turner, Basic Instinct (1992), Sharon Stone, Falling Down (1993), and Disclosure (1994), with Demi Moore. For his characters in films such as these, "any kind of sexual contact with someone other than his mate and the mother of his children is destined to come at a costly price." Edelman describes his characters as the "Everyman who must contend with, and be victimized by, these women and their raging, psychotic sexuality."
Conversely, Michael Douglas also played powerful characters with dominating personalities equally well: as Gordon Gekko, in the Wall Street franchise, Michael Douglas acted the role of a "greedy yuppie personification of the Me generation," convinced that "greed is good;" in Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, Michael Douglas played an idealistic soldier of fortune; in The Star Chamber (1983), Michael Douglas was a court judge fed up with an inadequate legal system, leading him to become involved with a vigilante group; and in Black Rain (1989), Michael Douglas proved Michael Douglas could also play a Stallone-like action hero as a New York City cop.
Actor and producer
Having become recognized as both a successful producer and actor, Michael Douglas describes himself as "an actor first and a producer second." Michael Douglas has explained why Michael Douglas enjoys both functions:
Michael Douglas has also offered reasons why Michael Douglas has become successful in both acting and producing:
In 2003, Michael Douglas starred in It Runs in the Family, which featured three generations of his family (his parents, Kirk and Diana, as well as his own son, Cameron). The film, although a labor of love, was not successful, critically or at the box office. Michael Douglas starred in the solid commercial action flick Don't Say a Word, then the poorly received action-thriller The Sentinel in 2006. During that time, Michael Douglas 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 Michael Douglas an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Show.
Michael Douglas was approached for Basic Instinct 2, but Michael Douglas declined to participate in the project. Michael Douglas 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 careerit certainly made her career and she was great in it".
Michael Douglas is rumored to appear in Tragic Indifference, a courtroom thriller based on a landmark liability case against Ford Motor Company, according to Variety. Michael 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. Michael 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 Michael Douglas would announce the introduction to NBC Nightly News, some two years after Howard Reig, the previous announcer, retired.
Michael Douglas in 2012 at a Vanity Fair party with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones
After filming Summertree (1971), Michael Douglas began dating actress Brenda Vaccaro. The relationship lasted for about six years.
In March 1977, 33 year old Michael Douglas married 19 year old Diandra Luker, the daughter of an Austrian diplomat. They had one son, Cameron, born in 1978. In 1995 Diandra filed for divorce and was awarded $45 million as her settlement.
Dating since March 1999, Michael 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, Michael 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).
They planned on renewing their wedding vows in 2010 as part of their 10th wedding anniversary. The idea was hers, and came after Michael Douglas was found to have advanced stages of cancer. One report notes that "Michael was in tears when she suggested it to him," and Michael Douglas sees it as a wonderful expression of love.
Michael Douglas, the son of a Jewish father and an Anglican mother, has declared no religious affiliation.
Michael Douglas is a U.S. citizen by birth in the United States and has Bermudian Status through his mother's birth in Bermuda.
Skiing accident and rehab
In 1980, Michael 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, Michael Douglas underwent treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction at Sierra Tucson Center.
In 1997, New York caddy James Parker sued Michael Douglas for $25 million. Parker accused Michael 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.
In 2004, Michael Douglas and Zeta-Jones took legal action against stalker Dawnette Knight, who was accused of sending violent letters to the couple that contained graphic threats on Zeta-Jones' life. Testifying, Zeta-Jones said the threats left her so shaken she feared a nervous breakdown. Knight claimed she had been in love with Michael Douglas and admitted to the offenses, which took place between October 2003 and May 2004. She was sentenced to three years in prison.
It was announced on August 16, 2010 that Michael Douglas was suffering from throat cancer and would undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. On August 31, 2010 Michael Douglas appeared on Late Show with David Letterman and confirmed that the cancer was at stage IV, the most advanced stage. Michael Douglas attributed the cancer to a combination of stress, his previous alcohol abuse, and years of heavy smoking.
Michael Douglas credits the discovery of his cancer to the public Canadian health system since a doctor in Montreal, Quebec diagnosed the actor's medical condition after numerous American specialists failed to.
In November 2010, Michael Douglas was put on a special weight gain diet by his doctors due to the excessive weight loss leaving him weak. On January 11, 2011, Michael Douglas said in an interview that the tumor was gone. Michael Douglas admitted that the illness and aggressive treatment had caused him to lose 32 lbs in weight. Michael Douglas will have to have monthly screenings because there is a very high chance that the cancer could return over the course of the next two to three years. Although Michael Douglas has described the cancer as throat cancer, many doctors believe Michael Douglas was actually diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer.
Opening of an exhibition by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization entitled "Putting an End to Nuclear Explosions". From left to right: Michael Douglas, Marty Natalegawa, Ban Ki-moon, Taib Fassi Fihri and Sergio de Queiroz Duarte.
Michael 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, Michael Douglas was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Michael 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, Michael Douglas was appointed UN Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Michael Douglas is a notable Democrat and has donated money to Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd, and Al Franken. Michael Douglas has been a major supporter of gun control since John Lennon was murdered in 1980.
In 2006 Michael Douglas was a featured speaker in a public service campaign sponsored by a UN conference to focus attention on trade of illicit arms, especially of small arms and light weapons. Michael Douglas made several appearances and offered his opinions:
"The conference is an opportunity for UN member states to build on the Program of Action and to encourage countries to strengthen their laws on the illicit trade, . . . an issue that affects us all . . .[and] while owning guns is a legal right in most countries, the illegal trade in guns continues to fuel conflict, crime and violence."
A few years earlier, in 2003, Michael Douglas hosted a "powerful film" on child soldiers and the impact of combat on children in countries such as Sierra Leone. During the documentary film, Michael Douglas interviewed children, and estimated that they were among 300,000 other children worldwide who have been conscripted or kidnapped and forced to fight. Of one such child Michael Douglas interviewed, Michael Douglas stated, "After being kidnapped by a rebel group, Michael Douglas was tortured, drugged, and forced to commit atrocities." Michael Douglas discussed his role as a Messenger Peace for the UN:
"I'm in an enviable position . . . When I talk about movies I can talk about messages of peace, and infuse them into the entertainment pages."
In February, 2012, following his return to the character of financial criminal Gordon Gekko, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a public service announcement video of Michael Douglas calling on viewers to report financial crime.    
In 2009 Michael Douglas joined the project Soldiers of Peace, a movie against all wars and for global peace.
Michael 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.
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