Anne Douglas, wife to the late Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas and stepmother to actor Michael Douglas, died Thursday at her Beverly Hills home at age 102.
“My father could never keep a secret. Anne was just the opposite,” Michael Douglas said in a statement released by the family. “That’s why when I read their co-authored book, `Kirk and Anne,’ in which she talked about her early life in Germany; her war years in occupied Paris; her career before she met my father; she also included their private correspondence, which gave me new insights into their courtship and marriage.
“Anne was more than a stepmother, and never `wicked.’ She brought out the best in all of us, especially our father. Dad would never have had the career he did without Anne’s support and partnership. Catherine and I and the children adored her. She will always be in our hearts.”
Anne Douglas was married to legendary actor Kirk Douglas for more than 60 years, until his death last year. The couple originally wed in Las Vegas in 1954, but they had a more lavish ceremony when they renewed their vows 50 years later, in 2004.
They had two children together, Peter and Eric. Kirk Douglas had two children from his previous marriage to Diana Dill — Michael and Joel.
She was an avid philanthropist, co-founding the Cedars-Sinai Research for Women’s Cancers. She and her husband also led a massive campaign to refurbish playgrounds at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, renovating more than 400 and always personally attending dedication ceremonies when they opened.
She also funded the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission downtown, and the Douglas Foundation has contributed more than $118 million to a variety of causes, including the Motion Picture and Television Home’s Alzheimers and dementia unit, Sinai Temple’s Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center and St. Lawrence University’s Kirk Douglas scholarships for minority students.
She was also a key player in the fundraising drive that bankrolled construction of the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles, and the family foundation funded construction of the Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City.
The Center Theatre Group will dim its lights at 8 p.m. Saturday in memory of Douglas, a longtime board member.
“Anne Douglas was a dedicated advocate for the theatre and a remarkable woman who helped build Center Theatre Group in its early years, changed the face of Southern California theatre with the launching of the Kirk Douglas Theatre, and was a dear member of our family throughout her life,” said Center Theatre Group Artistic Director Michael Ritchie.
She is survived by children Peter, Michael and Joel; daughters-in-law Catherine and Lisa; seven grandchildren, Cameron, Dylan, Carys, Kelsey, Tyler, Jason and Ryan; two great-grandchildren, Lua Izzy and Ryder; and a sister, Merle Werbke of Berlin, Germany. Her son Eric died in 2004.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission, 310 Winston St., Los Angeles, CA 90013.