Anne died peacefully at home in Beverly Hills on Thursday. Her death comes just over a year after Kirk died in February 2020. He was 103.
“My father could never keep a secret. Anne was just the opposite," Michael said in a statement. "That’s why I was so moved when I read their co-authored book, Kirk and Anne, in which she talked about her early life in Germany; her war years in occupied Paris; and her career before she met my father. She also included their private correspondence, which gave me new insights into their courtship and marriage."
"Anne was more than a stepmother, and never 'wicked.' She brought out the best in all of us, especially our father," he continued. "Dad would never have had the career he did without Anne’s support and partnership. Catherine and I and the children adored her; she will always be in our hearts."
Born Hannelore Marx in Hannover, Germany, Anne spent her young adulthood trying to survive in Nazi-occupied France. She started working in film publicity, and first met Kirk in 1953 when he offered her a job as his publicist while in Paris to film Act of Love.
Their working arrangement turned into love, and their romance continued across Europe. Anne and Kirk kept in touch as he filmed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in the Caribbean, and he then urged her to come to Beverly Hills after she finished her work with the Cannes Film Festival in 1954. He proposed six weeks after she arrived in Los Angeles.
The two married in Las Vegas on May 29, 1954, and had a big celebration 50 years later -- on May 29, 2004. She was stepmother to Michael and Joel Douglas, and gave birth to two children with Kirk, Peter and Eric. Eric died in 2004.
Anne leaves behind an impressive philanthropic legacy. To date, the Douglas Foundation has contributed more than $118 million to worthy causes. In 2012, The Foundation announced additional gifts of $50 million to five nonprofits, including the Kirk Douglas Theater, the Anne Douglas Center, the Motion Picture and Television Home’s Alzheimers and dementia unit, Sinai Temple’s Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center, and St. Lawrence University’s Kirk Douglas full scholarships for minority students. It will continue its good works under Anne's appointed administrators.
Anne is survived by son Peter, and stepsons Michael and Joel; daughters-in-law Catherine and Lisa; seven grandchildren: Cameron, Dylan, Carys, Kelsey, Tyler, Jason and Ryan; two great-grandchildren Lua Izzy and Ryder, parented by Cameron Douglas and Viviane Thibes; and a sister, Merle Werbke of Berlin, Germany.
Donations in Anne's memory may be made to the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission.