In 1971, Kirk Douglas gave Michael the rights to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It was a momentous occasion for the budding producer who went on to produce the film adaptation of the same name with Saul Zaentz. Kirk Douglas had his eyes set on playing the lead character, McMurphy, having already starred in an earlier stage version. Michael thought his father was too old for the part.
He gave the role to a relatively unknown actor named Jack Nicholson instead – a bold decision that turned out to be the right choice. Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Actor, while Michael won the Award for Best Picture for producing the film. Michael’s passion for production led him to start his own production company, Big Stick Productions, a few years later.
Michael Douglas started his film career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, acting in relatively unknown films like "Adam at 6 A.M.," “Summertree,” and "Hail, Hero!.” His portrayal in “Hail, Hero!” received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Male Newcomer. In the early 1970s, Douglas landed a big role on the television series "The Streets of San Francisco," which aired from 1972 to 1976.
He appeared alongside actor Karl Malden in the popular police drama. Douglas had a close relationship with Malden, whom he considered a mentor and deeply admired and loved. The two remained close for a long time until Malden's passing on July 1, 2009.
His Childhood - The Untold Story
To the world, it may seem like Michael Douglas had an easy path to success in Hollywood, but the reality is quite different. His father was still trying to make a name for himself when Michael was growing up, and the atmosphere at home was fraught with tension and difficulty. Additionally, Kirk Douglas’ guilt over his failed first marriage and family dynamics made life unstable for a young Michael.
He still cherishes their relationship, but life was far from easy for the Douglas family. Luckily, he found a stable home life with a supportive stepfather, whose lifestyle was far removed from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
When Real Life and Cinema Collide
In 1979, Michael Douglas produced and starred in a gripping drama called “The China Syndrome.” The film, starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon, told the story of a nuclear power plant accident. In an eerie twist of fate, the movie came out just 12 days before the real-life tragedy at Three Mile Island.
"The China Syndrome" is considered one of the most topical and intelligent Hollywood films of the 1970s. While the characters in the movie don't have much depth, the events depicted in the film are undeniably important. “The China Syndrome” was a powerful and impactful film that left a lasting impression on audiences.
Romancing the Stone
Michael Douglas became a household name after his appearance in the 1984 romantic adventure comedy “Romancing the Stone.” He produced and starred in the movie alongside Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. Director Robert Zemeckis also got his first big box-office hit with this film. "Romancing the Stone" was released in theaters on March 30, 1984, and it quickly became a smash hit.
The film earned over $75 million, establishing Michael Douglas' status as a leading man. The actor displayed a comic bravado that was a departure from the intense roles that he was known for. “Romancing The Stone” was a true testament to his range as an actor.