Anne would become the most influential person in his life, often proving to be his guardian angel. In 1958, producer Michael Todd invited Douglas to fly on his private plane to New York. Douglas was thrilled, but Anne had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. She begged him not to go.
They had a heated argument, but eventually, Douglas decided not to board the plane. Later, while driving and still not speaking to each other after the argument, they heard on the radio that the plane had crashed. Douglas realized he could have died on that plane and was grateful to Anne for saving his life.
As the Bad Guy You Love to Hate
In the 1952 film "The Bad and the Beautiful," Kirk Douglas delivered a powerful, Oscar-nominated performance as Jonathan Shields, a ruthless and hard-nosed film producer who stops at nothing to achieve his ambitions. Shields is relentlessly determined to make great movies, using anyone and everyone around him to achieve his ultimate goal.
Despite the odds, he turns his surname into a trademark - creating stars out of people whom the film industry casts aside. Douglas imbued the character with a manic intensity and a pathological desire to succeed. The actor seamlessly portrayed Shield's charming and ruthless sides, making him both a captivating and complex figure.
He Finds Love Again
Kirk Douglas’ acting career brought him not just fame and fortune - it led him to his one true love and second wife, Anne Budyens. Their love story began in France while Douglas was filming "Act of Love" in 1953, and Anne was vying for an assistant's job on set. The two fell madly in love and exchanged wedding vows on May 29, 1954.
They remained committed to each other until Douglas' passing in 2020. They had two sons, Peter and Eric. Peter became a successful producer, while Eric pursued a career in acting. Eric's life was tragically cut short at 46 when he passed away on July 6, 2004.
The Success of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea
Kirk Douglas proved his versatility as an actor in the 1954 film "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." While he was known for playing intense roles, Douglas showed he could also handle characters requiring a lighter, more comedic touch. In this adaptation of Jules Verne's classic novel, Douglas played a carefree sailor - a brilliant foil to the brooding and intense Captain Nemo, portrayed by James Mason.
The film was a major box-office hit and is considered one of Disney's most successful live-action movies. The movie received praise for its groundbreaking special effects, which brought the underwater world to life in a way never seen before on film.
He Forms a Production Company
In 1955, Kirk Douglas successfully launched his own film production company, Bryna Productions, after breaking contracts with Hal B. Wallis and Warner Bros. He began to produce and star in his films, starting with “The Indian Fighter.” But the true jewel in Byrna’s crown was "Paths of Glory" (1957) - a powerful anti-war film directed by Stanley Kubrick starring Douglas. Despite its commercial failure then, "Paths of Glory" is today regarded as an iconic anti-war film.
It tells the story of a compassionate World War I French officer who fights against a callous system that treats soldiers as pawns. Kubrick depicts a system where senior officers are vain and self-serving, using missions as obedience tests. Kirk, who spoke French fluently, delivered one of his most compelling performances as the officer trying to save three soldiers from execution.