Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas

Michael Kirk Douglas (born September 25, 1944) is an American actor and producer, primarily in movies and television. Douglas's first television exposure was that of Karl Malden's young college-educated partner, Insp. Steve Keller, in the popular 1970s crime drama, The Streets of San Francisco, a role he played from 1972 to 1976. Douglas is an Emmy Award-, Golden Globe Award- and two-time Academy Award-winner, first as producer of 1975's Best Picture, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Best Actor in 1987 for his role in Wall Street.

Early life

Douglas was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of American actor Kirk Douglas and Bermudian actress Diana Dill. His paternal grandparents, Bryna Sanglel and Herschel Danielovitch, were Jewish immigrants from Gomel in Belarus (at that time a part of the Russian Empire), while his mother and maternal grandparents, Ruth Rapalje Neilson and Lt. Col. Thomas Melville Dill, were natives of Devonshire Parish, Bermuda. His maternal grandfather served as the Attorney General of Bermuda and was a commanding officer of the Bermuda Militia Artillery. Douglas attended the Allen-Stevenson School and then graduated ('60) from Eaglebrook School middle school in Deerfield, Massachusetts before going on to The Choate School, (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut. Douglas graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1968 with a B.A. in dramatic arts where he is also the Honorary President of the UCSB Alumni Association.


Having a famous father opened many doors to Michael that would have been closed to other young Hollywood hopefuls. Douglas starred in the long-running TV series The Streets of San Francisco from 1972 to 1976, where Douglas had on- and off-screen chemistry with Malden, who became a second father to him, during the show's run. He received an Academy Award as producer for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975. Although Douglas was a capable actor on Streets, his career was somewhat stagnant after the series, and he only appeared in occasional movies which were usually less than popular (e.g., 1979's Running).

His fortunes changed when he starred in the 1984 romantic adventure comedy Romancing the Stone. The film was followed a year later in 1985 by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile. 1987 was a pivotal year for Douglas, one that won him massive attention as a serious actor. He starred in the thriller Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close and the film became a world-wide hit. That same year he played the insidious tycoon Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Douglas received an Academy Award as Best Actor for this role which would lead to many roles playing characters much like Gekko. Douglas later starred as Mr. Rose, a successful lawyer similar to this character's personality, in The War of the Roses, which featured previous co-stars Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In 1989 he starred in the hit international police crime drama Black Rain opposite Andy Garcia and Kate Capshaw and was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator).

In 1992, Douglas revived his slick, worldly character when he appeared alongside Sharon Stone in the film Basic Instinct. The movie was a huge hit, and sparked controversy over its depictions of bisexuality and lesbianism. Then in 1994, Douglas and Demi Moore starred in the hit movie Disclosure focusing on the hot topic of sexual harassment, but with a twist - Douglas plays a man harassed by his new female boss. In 1998, Douglas received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Douglas's skill at character acting continued to make him one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood and commands a hefty sum for his roles. After the commercial failure of It Runs in the Family, Douglas did not star in a movie for three years, until The Sentinel in 2006. A year prior to the release of It Runs in the Family, he guest-appeared on an episode of the popular television sitcom Will and Grace, as a gay cop attracted to Will Truman (Eric McCormack); the performance earned Douglas an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Show. His Fatal Attraction co-star, Glenn Close, appeared in the following episode of the series and also earned an Emmy nomination for her performance.

Douglas on being asked to do Basic Instinct 2: "Yes, they asked me to do it a while ago, I thought we had done it very effectively; (Paul) Verhoeven is a pretty good director. I haven't seen the sequel. I've only done one sequel in my life, The Jewel of the Nile, from Romancing The Stone. Besides, there were age issues, you know? Sharon still looks fabulous. The script was pretty good. Good for her, she's in her mid-40s and there are not a lot of parts around. The first one was probably the best picture of her career - it certainly made her career and she was great in it".

Douglas will soon star in Tragic Indifference, a courtroom thriller based on a landmark liability case against Ford, according to Variety. Douglas will play the attorney who took Ford to court on behalf of a single mother from Texas who was paralyzed and nearly died after an accident. The trial exposed the automaker's indifference to flaws in its SUVs. The movie will be based on Adam Penenberg's 2003 book of the same name. Douglas will play Attorney Tab Turner, who represented Donna Bailey after the Ford Explorer she was riding in rolled over following a Firestone tire failure.

On December 17, 2007 it was announced that Douglas was to be a new announcer on NBC Nightly News, some two years after Howard Reig, the previous announcer, retired.

Personal life

Douglas married Diandra Luker on March 20, 1977. They had one son, Cameron (born December 13, 1978). In 1980, Douglas was involved in a serious skiing accident which sidelined his acting career for three years. In September of 1992, he underwent treatment for alcohol abuse at Sierra Tucson Center. In 2000, after 23 years of marriage, Diandra divorced Douglas.

Douglas married Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones on November 18, 2000; they were both born on September 25, though 25 years apart. She claims that when they met in Deauville, he used the line "I'd like to father your children". They have two children, Dylan Michael (born August 8, 2000) and Carys Zeta (born April 20, 2003).

Douglas and Zeta-Jones hosted the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway on December 11, 2003. They acted as co-masters of ceremony in the concert celebrating the award given to Shirin Ebadi. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from the University of St. Andrews. Douglas and his family divide their time between their homes in: Pacific Palisades, California; New York City; Aspen, Colorado; Bermuda; Majorca, Spain; Swansea, Wales, Ridgewood, New Jersey, and La Conception, Quebec, Canada.

Douglas is an advocate of nuclear disarmament, is a supporter of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and sits on the Board of Directors of the Ploughshares Fund. In 1998 he was appointed UN Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is a notable Democrat, has donated money mainly to Democratic candidates and backed Hillary Clinton for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.

In 1997, New York caddy James Parker, sued Douglas for USD$25 million. Parker accused Douglas of hitting him in the groin with an errant golf ball, causing Parker to lose a testicle and his job. The case was later settled out of court.