EXCLUSIVE: Spartacus at 99!
Kirk Douglas celebrated his 99th birthday on Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills with wife Anne and sons Michael, Peter, Joel and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones as he held court under a huge banner made of red and white roses that spelled out “99 Today”. On the dining room table was a large rectangular birthday cake. Earlier in the day the legendary star reversed the usual protocol and instead of receiving a gift he decided instead to give one, a BIG one.
With his initial donation of $15 million, the Motion Picture & Television Fund in Woodland Hills announced plans to build a two-story $35 million Alzheimer’s facility to be named the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion, which will be able to take care of upwards of 80 industry members with that disease. It is expected to break ground in late 2016. “It is in keeping with Kirk’s philosophy of giving back to the entertainment community that he is the one giving us the gift on his birthday instead of us lavishing one on him,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Foundation, who adds that with this most recent commitment Kirk and his wife, Anne Douglas are some of the largest donors in the history of MPTF with over $40 million to date. In fact, in 1992 they helped create the Alzheimer’s Unit at MPTF known as Harry’s Haven which was named for Douglas’ father. Harry’s Haven will now become the first floor of the new facility. “When Jeffrey Katzenberg explained the urgency of enlarging the current facility to accommodate more patients, we had to say yes. Jeffrey knows it is our philosophy to provide funding where it is needed most. The Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion is going to help a lot of families in our community,” Douglas said in a statement.
But back to the party. Son Michael made a speech about his dad, remarking how many people want to talk to him about Kirk’s essays in the Huffington Post, his books and their favorite of his films. To which Kirk responded, “My son Michael is here, which just proves if you have enough money, you can have Michael Douglas speak at any event.” Among those stopping by to visit the actor was Katzenberg, who brought along a large 3-dimensional model of the new Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion that sat in the hall tied with a large ribbon. Universal chief Ron Meyer was there, with Douglas asking him how Kirk Douglas Way, the street named after him at U, was doing on the lot. He told Meyer he plans to put a Kosher Deli in as soon as he finds time. Longtime friend Don Rickles came in, made his way straight to Kirk and said, “I’m not staying,” a line that got a big laugh from Douglas. Laugh-In producer George Schlatter was there, already making plans with Anne for what they can do for Kirk’s 100th which takes place on December 9, 2016.
According to my spy on the scene, Kirk slipped out of his party after about an hour without saying goodbye. “All of his good friends and family know that he only likes hellos,” she said.
Coincidentally, Douglas shares the exact same birthday, December 9, as Dalton Trumbo (who would have been 110). Of course, Douglas figures heavily in the new movie Trumbo, since he was instrumental in breaking the Hollywood Blacklist by putting Trumbo’s name as screenwriter on the credits of Spartacus in 1960. All of this is recounted in the film, which ironically led all others on Douglas’ and Trumbo’s shared birthday in the SAG awards nominations Wednesday. It earned three, for star Bryan Cranston who plays Trumbo, Helen Mirren who plays Hedda Hopper and for Outstanding Cast (which includes actor Dean O’Gorman who makes an uncanny Douglas). The film also earned a pair of Golden Globe nominations yesterday. Cranston and Trumbo director Jay Roach came by to visit Douglas for drinks and an early celebration on Sunday with a birthday cake.