On February 5, 2021, legendary actor Kirk Douglas passed away at the age of 103. He died surrounded by his loved ones, including his son Michael, 75, and his wife, Anne. Kirk and Anne Douglas were married for almost 70 years, something rare and almost unheard of in Hollywood. In 2015, Douglas related the secret to their relationship: “We solve our disagreements with a kiss.”
Of course, life isn’t always that simple. However, the couple managed to strengthen their love through the ups and downs.
When Kirk and Anne Douglas First Met
Kirk and Anne Douglas met in 1953 while filming Act of Love in Paris. They were both in relationships with other people at the time. But Kirk thought there was something special about Anne. “This self-possessed beauty was very different from the women I had been involved with within Hollywood since Diana left me,” he wrote in their book, Kirk and Anne.
He asked her out to dinner, but she turned him down to his utter shock. She said, “No, thank you, I think I’ll go home and make myself some scrambled eggs.” He thought she was “the most difficult woman” he had ever met. 
Later on, Anne became a publicist for Kirk, a purely platonic relationship, which brought out a new side in Kirk. As he put it, “I stopped talking about myself and began to listen to her.”
A turning point in their relationship came at a charity event at a circus. Despite being a movie star dressed in a tuxedo, Kirk somehow ended up cleaning up elephant dung. That made Anne see him in a whole new light. “That’s what got me. It was not only funny; it was showing me that he was able to do things that are not expected from him,” she said.
Kirk and Anne’s Marriage
Kirk and Anne Douglas married in 1954 and had two kids together, Peter and Eric. Also, Anne became the stepmother to Kirk’s sons, Michael and Joel, from his previous marriage to Diana Douglas. Despite what people may expect, Anne and Diana became friends, a progressive and healthy decision for a blended family. 
The couple filled a book, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, with their love letters to each other. For instance, here is what Kirk wrote while he filmed Paths of Glory in 1957.
“Darling, how is it that when I am away from you, such love for you overwhelms me at 2:30 in the morning — as it is now — I awake to write to you. How incomplete I seem without my family. How can a man live alone? To live just for yourself is to be dead. And yes, I welcome this parting from you to rekindle my awareness of how much you mean to me. The early hour brings out the poetic side of me.”
Not to be outdone, here is a snippet from Anne. It’s from May 1956.
“I am so sad and depressed. I don’t think I ever wanted to be near you as much as right now. The toilet paper is too hard; the coffee is too strong … the telephones are impossible. Don’t I sound like a true American? But even being a European broad, what on Earth am I doing here!!!”
Kirk and Anne Douglas became philanthropists in Los Angeles. They helped homeless shelters and services, most notably, where Kirk got food when he first came to LA as an aspiring penniless actor.
But Not a Perfect Marriage
Their relationship wasn’t picture-perfect, however. Kirk had multiple affairs with other women, including Rita Hayworth, Patricia Neal, and Christina Crawford. He was honest about his cheating, and Anne was surprisingly forgiving. In their book, she wrote, “Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me. As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.” However, the affairs did splinter their relationship a bit. 
Not only that, Kirk and Anne Douglas shared personal traumas. Their son, Eric, died of an accidental drug overdose. Anne battled breast cancer, and Kirk suffered from a stroke and then depression.
“Romance Begins at 80“
However, on their 50th anniversary, they renewed their vows at a big, dreamy wedding ceremony. And Kirk wrote a poem that included the line:
“Romance begins at 80
“And I ought to know.
“I live with a girl
“Who will tell you so.” 
And when Kirk received his honorary Oscar in 1996, he dedicated the win to Anne. “I see my four sons. They are proud of the old man. And I am proud, too,” he said in his speech. “Proud to be a part of Hollywood for 50 years. But this is for my wife, Anne. I love you.” 
The movie star will be dearly missed. Kirk leaves a legacy in the film world, but he also leaves a more important legacy to his loved ones.
Keep Reading: Gerard Butler Celebrated His 50th Birthday By Releasing Sea Turtles Into The ocean
- “Kirk And Anne Douglas Made 70 Years Of Marriage Work By Solving Problems With ‘A Kiss’ And Work.” Little Things. Stephanie Kaloi. February 6, 2020
- “Inside Kirk and Anne Douglas’ Nearly 70-Year Marriage: ‘We Solve Our Disagreements with a Kiss.‘” People. Kara Warner. February 5, 2020
- “Kirk Douglas on wife Anne: “The most difficult woman I ever met!” USA Today. Andrea Mandell. April 30, 2017.
- “Kirk Douglas’s Six-Decade Love Story With His Wife, Anne Buydens.” Town and Country. Chanel Vargas. February 5, 2020.
- “Kirk Douglas dead at 103; ‘Spartacus’ star helped end Hollywood blacklist.” Los Angeles Times. Dennis McLellan. February 5, 2020.