You know, coming here is like coming home. I went to a dramatic school just up on 57th Street, and I worked in theaters just a few blocks from here. Of course, I was never in a Broadway hit. The plays usually ran about one performance, then I'd go back to California, make a movie, and then I'd come back to New York and do another play - for one night - and back to California, and here I am doing a one-night stand!
You know, Alexandra is really my most loyal fan. Now, when I make a movie, no matter what the critics say, Alexandra writes me a letter right away, and she says, "Dear Uncle Kirk: I saw your last movie, you were terrific!" So, now, Alexandra, if these people don't like this show tonight, you send that letter right away!
We'll see you all later!"
- Kirk Douglas
'Saturday Night Live' monologue
(February 23, 1980)
I could have jumped the gun and run the tribute a day earlier, but John Glenn's death caught me unawares, and such a modern legend as he was deserved to be honored right away.
And so here we are. Since Sundays in Inner Toob are usually a day of "rest" for your Toobworld Caretaker in which I simply run a few videos, this is probably the best day of all for "honoring" Mr. Douglas......
First, a little about this one-man Mt. Rushmore, as he was described in the news this week:
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916) is an American actor, producer, director, and author. He is one of the last survivors of the industry's Golden Age. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers' (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war movies. During a sixty-year acting career, he has appeared in over 90 movies, and in 1960 helped end the Hollywood Blacklist.
As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas has received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he has written ten novels and memoirs. Currently, he is No. 17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, and the highest-ranked living person on the list. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he has focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lives with his second wife of more than 60 years, Anne, a producer. He turned 100 on December 9, 2016.
In a 2014 article, Douglas cited 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers', 'Champion', 'Ace in the Hole', 'The Bad and the Beautiful', 'Act of Love', '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea', 'The Indian Fighter', 'Lust for Life', 'Paths of Glory', 'Spartacus', 'Lonely Are the Brave', and 'Seven Days in May' as the films he was most proud of throughout his acting career.
[edited from Wikipedia]
This is not the first time we've inducted someone into the TVXOHOF when they turned 100. But he's certainly the first who was still alive when we did it. (Other centenarians so honored have been Jackie Gleason and Dinah Shore - both this year - and Frank Sinatra.)
I'm not surprised he made it to his century mark. Kirk Douglas has always exuded this almost bestial virility onscreen, especially in roles like Spartacus. Hell, he was probably the only actor around at the time who could play a character making love to Farrah Fawcett, a woman half his age, and still be believable. ("Saturn 3")
I'm not sure I would have inducted him JUST because he turned 100. Although I've honored others who hit lesser, yet still major, milestones - just this year we had Raquel Welch after turning 75 and Dick Cavett at 80, Willy Mays marking 85, and Jerry Lewis reaching the Big 9-0 - they still had the necessary requirements met for inclusion.
Luckily Mr. Douglas had enough reasons to say that he belongs in the Hall of Fame as a fictional version of himself:
'The Jack Benny Program'
- "The Jam Session Show" (1954)
'Name That Tune'
- Episode dated 9 December 1954
'The Lucy Show'
- "Lucy Goes to a Hollywood Premiere" (1966)
'Saturday Night Live' - "Kirk Douglas/Sam and Dave" (1980)
- Gilda Radner brings her aunt backstage to meet Kirk Douglas, but they are shocked to discover he's only four feet tall.
- For his opening monologue, Kirk reminisces about performing on stage in New York, then talks about his grandchildren and introduces his young god-daughter.
- Kirk does impersonations of Kirk Douglas impersonators.
- A lavatory attendant asks Kirk for an autograph while he's using the facilities.
That last entry about the lavatory attendant bothering Kirk in the bathroom would have been a worthy plotline for a Lucy show, which is why it's appropriate that Gilda played the role.
In the TV dimension of Skitlandia, Kirk Douglas is only about four feet tall.....
Uh.. Mr. Douglas, we don't mean to bother you, but I'd like you to meet a big fan of yours. This is my Aunt Margie.
Are you sure this is Kirk Douglas the movie star?
Now, Aunt Margie, listen.. the man's made 65 movies, what do you expect?
I'm sorry, but I was expecting something else, I-I-I..
Quiet! Sshhh! Mr. Douglas, I'd like to apologize for my Aunt Margie.
There's no need. I know what she means. I'm used to it. Now, Aunt Margie, you expected a taller man, with a dimple in his chin? No, Margie, that's just an illusion - makeup, a little Hollywood magic.. now, you didn't really think I had a hole in my chin, did you? Huh? [ Gilda laughs ]
It's amazing.. I've seen, maybe, 50 of his movies, but in person, he makes your Uncle Harry look good.
Yeah. Well, as they say in show business, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!"
- The Popcorn Bowl (1994)
Hayden struggles to juggle a bowl game and an offer from a professional football team as he feels he has changed too much since hiring an agent. (I have no info on Kirk's involvement in this.)
And now, making this a true "Video Sunday", I'll end my tribute to Kirk Douglas with a few examples of his "Life" in Toobworld....
'WHAT'S MY LINE?'
"KIRK DOUGLAS, MYSTERY GUEST"
'THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM'
"THE JAM SESSION"
'THE LUCY SHOW'
"LUCY GOES TO A HOLLYWOOD PREMIERE"
'THE DEAN MARTIN CELEBRITY ROASTS'
It's always refreshing to do an induction tribute for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame and it's NOT a memorial.