In the beginning of his legendary career, Kirk Douglas (1916 – ) b. Issur Danielovitch, was almost typecast as a well-meaning but ineffectual husband in two fine films, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, 1946, and A Letter to Three Wives, 1949. But his career ascended into mega-stardom when he played cynical heroes motivated by rage: Champion, 1949, Ace in the Hole, 1951, The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952, Paths of Glory, 1957, Spartacus, 1960, and his favorite picture, Lonely Are the Brave, 1962,
Douglas was never a conventional leading man. Though handsome as a fairy tale prince, he wielded his masculine beauty like a weapon. There was none of the gruff, working class charm that made Gable the King. Douglas was not an urbane gentleman like William Powell, nor a witty charmer like Cary Grant.
Kirk Douglas excelled at playing, in his own words, “sons of bitches.”
On screen, they are larger than life.
Hollywood stars seduce us with their glamor. They become the vehicles of our dreams and desires. We rarely imagine them as ordinary people. And so, when we see a Hollywood star posing with family members—mortals like you and me—it comes as something of a shock.
But after a short pause, we realign our thoughts and experience a new tenderness towards the shadow on the screen. We delight in learning that those in whom we have invested so much of ourselves have ordinary mothers, just like us. Which makes identification with beloved Hollywood stars even more meaningful. It’s a delicious paradox: They are just like us — but not really. Thus, perhaps we can be just like them.