EXCLUSIVE: With the indomitable spirit of Spartacus himself, Kirk Douglas celebrated his 101st birthday with family and friends on Saturday.
Douglas’ Oscar winning son Michael flew in from New York just to be with his dad on the special day, and then was flying right back to where his eldest son Cameron is about to make him a grandfather – and Kirk a great-grandfather – with the imminent arrival of a baby girl.
Daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones couldn’t be at Douglas’ Beverly Hills home in person but, via FaceTime, sang what I am told was an Oscar-worthy rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Kirk’s son Joel drove in from the desert and posed for a photo with Michael and Kirk, spelling out 101 with their fingers. Among other family members there, in addition of course to wife Anne, was granddaughter Kelsey Douglas, who is about to turn 25 and is the latest of the clan to follow grandpa into the acting profession.
Three generations of Douglas thesps (Kirk, Michael, Cameron) memorably appeared together in MGM’s It Runs In The Family (2003), which remains to date the last studio film of Kirk’s career, although I’m told another guest at the party, CAA’s Fred Specktor, still considers himself the legendary star’s agent should the actor ever decide to go back to work. Douglas is still very active, and his latest book, Kirk And Anne: Letters Of Love, Laughter, And A Lifetime In Hollywood, written with Anne, was released in May.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has cited Kirk as his model for philanthropy, was there. It was just two years ago that I reported, on the occasion of his 99th birthday, that Douglas’ donation of $15 million was made toward building a new Alzheimer’s facility. The Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion will be located at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Woodland Hills Campus (Katzenberg chairs the fund).
Universal Chairman Ron Meyer also came by the lunchtime event and I hear got the same question he always gets: Is he keeping Kirk Douglas Way on the Universal lot free of potholes? The Spartacus set is still a staple on the studio tour.
Among others at the small gathering were producer George Schlatter and wife Jolene, Neile McQueen Toffel, producer David Permut, writer David Bender, and director Jeff Kanew, who made 1986’s Tough Guys, the last teaming of Kirk and good friend Burt Lancaster. Kanew also directed Douglas’ autobiographical piece Before I Forget at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. And perhaps the most important guest was Douglas’ cardiologist Dr. P.K. Shah, who per tradition at these annual birthday gatherings brought along the vodka for the one drink a year he allows Kirk to have. Everyone vowed to be back next year to do it all again for the 102nd.