Remembering Kirk Douglas' powerful open letter to President Trump
Kirk Douglas, the last great star of Hollywood's golden age, has died at the age of 103.
His son, Michael, took to Instagram to announce the news, in a statement published on Wednesday evening.
"To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to," he wrote. "But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband."
"Kirk’s life was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet,” Michael said. “Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad – I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son."
Douglas, who was born Issur Danielovitch to impoverished Russian-Jewish immigrants in 1916, went onto become one of Hollywood's most recognisable faces, starring in the likes of Spartacus, Ace in the Hole, and Paths of Glory.
Given his hard-scrabble upbringing, it is perhaps unsurprising that Douglas went onto pen a powerful open letter to Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.
Drawing on everything he witnessed after living in America for almost a century, the actor issued a warning to his fellow citizens about what could come to transpire.
"They say there is nothing new under the sun. Since I was born, our planet has travelled around it one hundred times. With each orbit, I’ve watched our country and our world evolve in ways that would have been unimaginable to my parents – and continue to amaze me with each passing year," he wrote in the article, which was published in the Huffington Post.
Refraining from mentioning any names, Douglas compared the rise of Adolf Hitler to the rhetoric that Donald Trump used during his election campaign;
"[I've] lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.
I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933. For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at ― not taken seriously.
He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric. The "experts" dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong."
Watch as world leaders appear to "gossip" about Donald Trump:
"A few weeks ago we heard words spoken in Arizona that my wife, Anne, who grew up in Germany, said chilled her to the bone. They could also have been spoken in 1933:
“We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. It is our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish here…[including] new screening tests for all applicants that include an ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values…”
These are not the American values that we fought in World War II to protect."
"Until now, I believed I had finally seen everything under the sun. But this was the kind of fear-mongering I have never before witnessed from a major U.S. presidential candidate in my lifetime.
I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country. But your children and mine will be. And their children. And their children’s children.
All of us still yearn to remain free. It is what we stand for as a country. I have always been deeply proud to be an American. In the time I have left, I pray that will never change. In our democracy, the decision to remain free is ours to make."