Kirk Douglas Turns 100! A Look Back at the Star's Most Iconic Performances
By Zach Seemayer
Kirk Douglas, one of Hollywood's most celebrated icons, turns 100 on Friday, marking a milestone in a life filled with some of the best roles a star could hope for and some of the best performances anyone has ever given.
With three Oscar nominations and an honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar under his belt, ET is taking a look back at some of Douglas' greatest films in honor of his special day.
In one of his first leading roles, Douglas starred as a boxer named Midge Kelly, whose rise to fame and stardom in the ring brings out his vain, cruel side in his private life. The black and white noir drama earned Douglas his first of three Oscar nominations.
2. Ace in the Hole (1951)
In this brooding, cynical noir thriller, directed by Billy Wilder, Douglas plays Chuck Tatum, a disgraced newspaperman who gets a second chance when a mine collapses, providing the perfect, sensational story to restart his career. And he will stop at nothing to manipulate the situation to his advantage.
3. The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)
Douglas earned his second Oscar nomination for his role in this melodrama about the dark side of the movie business. The actor stars as Jonathan Shields, a reviled but successful movie producer who manipulates those around him to further his own career, until one day, he needs help from the people he's screwed over in the past.
4. Lust for Life (1956)
In this emotional biopic, Douglas plays famed Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, who went unappreciated and unrecognized during his troubled life, but sacrificed everything for his artistic passion. Douglas' performance in the powerful film earned him his third Oscar nomination.
In Stanley Kubrick's acclaimed anti-war drama, Douglas stars as a Colonel Dax, a commanding officer in the French Army during World War I. Dax refuses orders to send his men on a suicide mission against enemy forces and then must defend himself and his company against charges of cowardice.
6. Spartacus (1960)
Possibly his most iconic film, Spartacus tells the story of the eponymous slave and gladiator, played by Douglas, who leads a revolt against the decadent and tyrannical Roman Empire. The big budget historical drama ended up winning four Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor (for Peter Ustinov), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design
7. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
In this David Miller-directed drama about individualism, Douglas plays a loner and drifter named John Burns who lives his life like a roaming Old West cowboy, refusing to give in to living in modern society. Soon, he gets embroiled in a jail break that makes him the target of a manhunt. The contemporary Western is considered by many to be Douglas' best work.
Honorable Mentions: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Out of the Past (1947), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), There Was a Crooked Man… (1970) and Greedy (1994).