Remembering Kirk Douglas' Life in Photos on What Would Have Been His 104th Birthday

MR. GREEN JEANS

“[My wife] used to have on our answering machine, ‘Spartacus and I are not home at the moment, please leave a message, ‘ ” said Kirk Douglas (here, in the ’50s). The 103-year-old actor shared this gem and more in a 2015 PEOPLE interview promoting his new collection of poetry, Life Could Be Verse: Reflections on Love, Loss, and What Really Matters, a unique look at his career, his 60-plus-year marriage to Anne Buydens and his four sons. “I’ve often used poetry to talk about what is important to me,” he added.

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ALL IN THE FAMILY

“They call me Pappy, like a little dog,” said Douglas (with Anne and Michael) of grandkids Carys (left) and Dylan.

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FATHER AND SON

His own father was distant, so Douglas (with Michael in ’49) said he “hugs and kisses my boys Russian style, on the lips, all the time, [and] I say, ‘I love you.’ Michael is sentimental like his old man – and he’s got my dimple.”

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LOVE, ACTUALLY

On the Paris set of 1953’s Act of Love, Douglas asked Anne for a date. “She turned me down!” he recalled, laughing. “But I was determined to win her over.” The two (ca. 1954) wed in Las Vegas soon after.

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HE IS SPARTACUS

“There wasn’t much to it,” Douglas said of his Oscar-winning wardrobe for Spartacus (1960). “I had to be careful how I moved.”

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MASTER AT WORK

“I [was] so immersed in his tortured life,” said Douglas (as Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life, 1956).

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HE’S TAKEN

Douglas (with Elizabeth Taylor, then married to Eddie Fisher, at a party for Spartacus in 1961) recalled, “I said to my wife, ‘Richard Burton will be next!’ “

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STRONG MAN

“I did a lot of crazy things for fun with my boys,” said the brawny dad (lifting sons Joel, left, and Michael by the family swimming pool ca. 1955). “I was always in pretty good shape. I was a wrestler in college.”

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SWEET STUFF

“My husband likes to surprise me,” said Anne, who was shocked when Kirk jumped out of a borrowed cake (from the set of Some Like It Hot) for her birthday.

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MY FOUR SONS

“My boys grew up privileged, and it was harder for them to be driven,” said Douglas (with, from left, Joel, Peter, Michael and Eric in 1988).

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LAST COWBOYS

Frank Sinatra “loved to cook,” said Douglas (with the star at the Moulin Rouge in ’59). “At one of Anne’s birthday parties, he came out of the kitchen wearing an apron, serving hors d’oeuvres.”

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HOWDY, HANDSOME

“Acting is a childish profession,” said Douglas (ca. 1945). After playing around 100 roles, “I want to find out about myself now – finally.”

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REACHING OUT

Michael’s son Cameron (ca. 1999) was released from prison in August 2016 after serving seven years on drug charges. “He’s strong,” Douglas shared.

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ANNE’S MAN

In his book, “I wrote my best poem for Anne: ‘Romance Begins at 80,’ ” recalled the actor (with Anne in ’08). “We solve our disagreements with a kiss.”

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CATE THE GREAT

“She’s beautiful on the inside too,” Douglas said of his fetching daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones (in 2007). “And she’s a very good mother.”

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