And Maybe One of the Last of Those Who Would Stand Tall During Dark Times in America’s Democracy
“I’ve played some good guys as well, in Spartacus, Paths of Glory and my favorite picture, Lonely Are the Brave, so I had a mixture of parts in my life.” – Kirk Douglas
A Brief One from Doug Draper
Posted February 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Not to many people under the age of 40 – unless they study film at college or university – know who Kirk Douglas is or know what ‘the golden age of Hollywood; means anymore, so I am not going to spend much time with this.
Except to say that one of the greatest film actors of the 20th Century – one of the actors that invented the ‘anti-hero’ and championed films that the corporatists in Hollywood would not necessarily make – died this February, at the grand old age of 103, and he is one of those who definitely deserves to be remembered.
His name was Kirk Douglas, and along with the already late great Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracey, and others of their ilk, he deserves to go down among the great, ground-breaking film actors and artists of the last hundred years.
You can learn more about Kirk Douglas if you want to online and more preferably in books, including his own best-selling (he actually wrote it) autobiography from some 30 or 40 years ago, ‘The Ragman’s Son’.
About the only last things I will say is that this great actor was also a courageous agent for humanitarian justice.
To end with just one example, during one of the worst anti-Red or anti- communist “blacklist” periods in his United States called the McCarthy era, Kirk Douglas helped break the fever of that awful period in American history.
He did it by hiring a screenwriter named Dalton Trumbo who had been blacklisted and was forced to screenwriter earlier movie gems like A Roman Holiday, under a fake name, to do the screenwriting for his 1960 epic film ‘Spartacus’, and saying (despite warnings from big suits in the movie business); ‘To hell with it. I want him to use his real name.’
Anti-communist groups, including the old guard of the American legion at the time, worked to boycott Spartacus and even formed a picket line when the movie had its debut. One of the many individuals who crossed that picket line to view the film was then U.S. President-elect John F. Kennedy.
It all added up to one of the brave moments that broke the back of an era of fear and paranoia at that time – a fear and paranoia that has unfortunately resurfaced in an America now run by Trump.
In 1981, Kirk Douglas received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom from then President Jimmy Carter for that courageous act and for so much of the other humanitarian work he had done over his years as a film actor and film maker.
How sad it is that at the time of Kirk Douglas’s death, U.S. President Donald Trump has this aging sex kitten of a wife, placing the Medal of Freedom (the same medal given to the likes of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks) around the neck of a disgusting gas bag like radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh – someone who took relish in helping Trump peddle the nonsense that past President Barrack Obama, America’s first African-American president, was not a legitimate president because he was born in Africa – during what was supposed to be a State of the Union address this February 4th.
How low America has sunk since a golden age in that country that Kirk Douglas played such a large part in making.
“I was living in a terrible time,” said Kirk Douglas, recalling the time when he made the film Spartacus, “when people were being accused of being communists, and they attacked the movie industry, especially the writers. People couldn’t work if they were on the blacklist. The studios banned them. It was the most onerous period in movie history. I don’t think we have ever had a period so dark as that.”
Well, unfortunately, thanks to Trump and his tens of millions of supporters, America is experiencing an America that dark again.
And this time, it could mean the end of America as a democracy.
A brief tribute video for Kirk Douglas that you can click on here –
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