Kirk Douglas 1916 – 2020: Off to Valhalla

Farewell Kirk Douglas!

7 January 2020

By Göran R Buckhorn

On Wednesday, 5 January, American iconic movie star Kirk Douglas passed away, at the ripe old age of 103.

Among his many great films, it’s probably Spartacus (1960), directed by Stanley Kubrick, that stands out the most. Who would not like to be brave and stand up and shout ‘I’m Spartacus’? The film was a box office hit although it ‘only’ generated one Oscar, to Peter Ustinov for best supporting actor. Douglas’s film gave full credit to its screenwriter Dalton Trumbo – one of the Hollywood Ten – who for several years had been blacklisted as he had refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 during the committee’s investigation of Communist influences in the American film industry. Later Douglas would say: ‘I’ve made over 85 pictures, but the thing I’m most proud of is breaking the blacklist’.

One of my favourite Douglas movies is The Vikings (1958), which was partly filmed in Norway with 125 Nordic oarsmen playing the rowing Vikings. In April last year, I published an article here on HTBS about the film and how my Swedish rowing coach, Tore Persson, played one of the rowing extras in the film. Maybe worth a re-read?

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