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5 of Hollywood Titan Kirk Douglas’ Most Iconic Roles

Kirk Douglas

Portrait of Kirk Douglas. Photo: @michaelkirkdouglas

The announcement that Hollywood titan Kirk Douglas has passed away at the age of 103 symbolizes the end of a golden era of film that some hoped would never end. His son and fellow thespian, Michael Douglas, announced the sorrowful news on Instagram earlier today, February 6.

It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years,” wrote Michael, adding: “Kirk’s life was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come.”

Taking on a staggering amount of more than 90 roles throughout his equally astonishing 70-year-long career, Douglas was nominated for three Academy Awards and bestowed with an honorary Oscar at the 1996 ceremony in recognition of his five decades in the industry as a “creative and moral force.” In celebration of his award-winning legacy, we take a look at five of the veteran star’s most iconic cinematic roles that will continue to fill the hearts and homes of people all over the world even after his passing.

Michael Douglas with his father, Kirk. Photo: Instagram/ @michaelkirkdouglas


The legendary story of underdog-turned-victor in Champion was just the beginning of Douglas’ success in film. His starring role as the boxer Midge Kelly garnered him his first Oscar nomination and even though he didn’t win, it opened many illustrious doors for this New York native and thrust his name to the top of many coveted cast lists.

The Bad and the Beautiful

The Vincenti Minnelli drama that gifted the world with the Oscar-nomination-worthy character of Jonathan Shields, The Bad and the Beautiful was an instant classic that continues to entertain movie buffs today with its rollercoaster of emotional turmoil.

Lust for Life 

Stealing almost every scene in which he appeared and giving him his third and Oscar nod, Douglas redefined his tough-guy persona as the lead in this biopic on Vincent Van Gogh that saw one of the heroes of Tinseltown transform into a tormented artist plagued with mental health problems.

Lust for the Life

Lust for Life. Photo: Instagram/@travelinggentleman


It’s impossible to remember Douglas without remembering Spartacus. Likely his most widely known work that found a place in mainstream pop culture with the memorable catchphrase “I am Spartacus”, this historical epic about a rebellion in the Roman Empire is the crowning glory in the genre of gladiator movies. The Stanley Kubrick film went on to win four Academy Awards and cemented Douglas’ status as a master of all.

Lonely are the Brave

Douglas’ appearance in this contemporary Western may not have earned as mighty a box-office success as his other films, but the critical acclaim is undeniable. An edge-of-your-seat adaptation of the novel The Brave Cowboy, viewers will root for the lonely escaped convict who was just struggling to find his place within the complexities of modern society.

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