Anne Buydens Douglas, widow of late actor Kirk Douglas, dies at 102

Anne Buydens Douglas, a German-American producer and widow of legendary actor Kirk Douglas, has died at age 102.

Douglas died Thursday at her home in Beverly Hills, according to an obituary provided by spokeswoman Marcia Newberger. No cause of death was given. 

Her death comes more than a year after her husband Kirk – who was known for “Spartacus,” “Lust for Life” and other iconic films – died on Feb. 5, 2020. He was 103. 

The couple was married for more than 65 years after tying the knot in May 1954. “She was the most difficult woman I ever met,” Kirk told USA TODAY in April 2017, with his wife chuckling by his side. (She famously turned the A-lister down for dinner when they first met in Paris, preferring to go home and make herself scrambled eggs.)

Kirk Douglas on wife Anne:“The most difficult woman I ever met!”

Hollywood icon and ‘Spartacus’ star Kirk Douglas dies at 103, son Michael Douglas confirms

Anne Douglas, the widow of Kirk Douglas and stepmother of Michael Douglas, died Thursday, April 29, 2021, in California. She was 102. (Photo: Reed Saxon, AP)

Together, Douglas and Kirk had two sons: Peter, 65, and Eric, who died in 2004 at age 46. She was also stepmother to actor Michael Douglas, 76, and producer Joel Douglas, 74, Kirk’s children with first wife Diana Douglas. (She died in 2015.)

Michael said his stepmother “will always be in our hearts.”

“She brought out the best in all of us, especially our father,” the actor said in a statement to the Associated Press. “Dad would never have had the career he did without Anne’s support and partnership.” 

Kirk admitted so himself. He once said, “I often wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t married Anne. I might not have survived without her business acumen and her finely-honed instincts.”

A candid shot of Kirk and Anne Douglas. (Photo: Kirk and Anne Douglas, Running Press)

Kirk Douglas, known for ‘Spartacus’ and other iconic film roles, was also prolific author

Douglas and Kirk opened up about their longtime love in 2017’s “Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood.” Co-written by the couple, it reveals candid letters they sent each other during their courtship and marriage.

Wives of famous men are generally glossed over in the history books; it’s partly what makes “Kirk and Anne” such a fascinating piece of reclaimed Hollywood history. In early passages, the late producer describes her well-heeled life before Kirk, a sharp contrast to his poor upbringing in New York as Issur Danielovitch, his birth name, where Yiddish was the only language spoken at home. She was born in Germany to a successful businessman and was schooled in Switzerland before fleeing the Nazis and moving to Paris.

Douglas and Kirk first met on the Paris set of “Act of Love” in 1953 (she, a film publicist, he, a famous film star). With Kirk on the lookout for a bilingual press aide (she was fluent in German, French and English), Douglas was led to his dressing room, coined “the lion’s den” by her cinematographer guide.

Kirk hired her, but things stayed platonic. “With no romance in the picture, I stopped trying to impress Anne,” Kirk writes in their 2017 book. “Instead, I stopped talking about myself and began to listen to her.”

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Kirk Douglas and wife Anne, pictured in 1960, have been husband and wife for 63 years. (Photo: AP)

It was also Douglas who inspired a lifetime of art collecting, and who also helped clean up Kirk’s messy finances. She recalled, “So I’m going out with a man that’s poor?!”

“That is when my business education from my father rose to the surface, and I got somebody very knowledgeable about how to invest the salary that he gets when he makes a movie. It became a success. Today he is very, very philanthropic,” she told USA TODAY. 

The Douglas Foundation, which Douglas and her husband co-founded, has donated millions to a wide range of institutions, from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

“We feel sorry for the next generation. Because we have known the better life, the better years,” Douglas told USA TODAY in 2017. “And they are gone. And they won’t come back.”

Kirk exclaimed, “You’re a pessimist!” 

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A post shared by Michael Douglas (@michaelkirkdouglas)

Douglas’ death comes less than a week after she turned 102.

In celebration, Michael Douglas shared a multi-generational family photo featuring himself, Douglas, his late father, his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and their children: Dylan, 20, and Carys, 18. 

“Happy Birthday Anne Douglas! We love you!” he captioned the Instagram photo. In another birthday tribute, Zeta-Jones called her an “extraordinary” mother-in-law, “a joy, an inspiration and so loved by us all.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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