Michael Douglas, son of movie star Kirk Douglas, was born in New Jersey in 1944. He gained fame after starring in the cop show Streets of San Francisco (1972–77). His film career took off shortly after, with starring roles in The China Syndrome (1979), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Wall Street (1987), for which he won an Academy Award. Later films include Fatal Attraction (1987), Basic Instinct (1992) and Wonder Boys (2000). He he still finds prominent parts later in his career, starring in films such as the Emmy Award-winning Behind the Candelabra (2013), Last Vegas (2013) and Ant-Man (2015). Douglas married actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2000.
Michael Kirk Douglas was born on September 25, 1944, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Diana Dill. Michael grew up with three brothers: Joel, Peter and Eric. As the son of a famed actor, Michael Douglas grew up with a strained relationship with his father, which developed more as he progressed through life. He studied drama at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and in New York at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and the American Place Theatre.
Douglas began his Hollywood career as an assistant director on some of father Kirk Douglas's 1960s films. After roles in several television dramas, he gained notoriety by co-starring with Karl Malden in the 1970s TV series The Streets of San Francisco (ABC, 1972-77). He also directed two episodes of the show.
In 1975, Douglas served as executive producer for Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which went on to win five Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. He got involved in the film after his father, who owned the rights to Ken Kesey's novel of the same name, couldn't successfully develop it into a film. Despite the success of the film, it was difficult for Michael Douglas to find work as an actor, having received so much recognition as a producer. In 1979, he starred with Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon in the film The China Syndrome, which he also co-produced.
Acclaimed Film Actor
Douglas landed his first leading man role in Romancing the Stone (1984), portraying Jack Colton, an Indiana Jones-type adventurer. This successful teaming of Douglas with Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner led to a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile (1985). The three worked again in The War of the Roses (1989), a dark comedy about an ugly divorce.
In 1987, Douglas made two films that reflected a much darker side: Fatal Attraction, in which he played an adulterer stalked by an ex-lover—played by Glenn Close)—and Oliver Stone's Wall Street, in which he played the corporate raider Gordon Gekko, whose trademark slogan is "Greed is good." For this role, Douglas won an Academy Award for best actor. He continued exploring his dark side years later, co-starring with Sharon Stone in the thriller Basic Instinct in 1992.
In 1988, Douglas formed a production company, Stonebridge Entertainment, Inc., which produced Joel Schumacher's Flatliners (1990) and Richard Donner's Radio Flyer (1992). In 1993 he produced Made in America, then starred as a sexually harassed man in Michael Crichton's Disclosure (1994), and as the titular Chief Executive Officer in Rob Reiner's The American President (1995), co-starring Annette Bening.
In 1994, he signed a development deal at Paramount that included The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), The Game (1997) and A Perfect Murder (1998). He executive-produced The Rainmaker (1997), starring Matt Damon, as well as John Woo's 1997 action film, Face/Off. Douglas earned critical acclaim for his starring role as a rumpled novelist and English professor in Wonder Boys (2000).
In the fall of 2001, Douglas headlined the thriller Don't Say a Word, co-starring with actress Brittany Murphy in the film. Two years later, he was featured in It Runs in the Family (2003), alongside his famous father, his mother and his son, Cameron. The film, which fared poorly at the box office, told the story of a multi-generational clan trying to get along.
Following in his father's footsteps, in 2004, Douglas was honored as the recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Cecil B. DeMille Award for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field."
In Recent Years
In 2010, Douglas announced that he would be reprising his role as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. The film, also starring Shia LeBeouf and Carey Mulligan, was released in the United States that September. Douglas went on to work on the biopic Behind the Candelabra, starring in the film as the famous 1950s and '60s entertainer Wladziu Liberace. Matt Damon played his love interest in the critically acclaimed 2013 television movie. Douglas won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the famed entertainer.
He also filmed the movie Last Vegas (2013) with several Hollywood legends, including Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. The following year, Douglas starred opposite Diane Keaton in And So It Goes and the thriller Beyond the Reach. In 2015, he starred as biochemist Hank Pym in the Marvel superhero action/comedy Ant-Man.
Douglas's life was forced to a halt in August 2010, when the heavy smoker discovered that he had developed a throat tumor. The 65-year-old actor was told by doctors that he would have to undergo eight weeks of chemotherapy. Doctors expected the Oscar winner to make a full recovery, and Douglas told reporters that he was "very optimistic" about his prognosis.
Douglas married Diandra Luker in 1977. They had one son, Cameron, but were separated in 1995 and later divorced. On November 18, 2000, Douglas married Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, his Traffic co-star. The couple welcomed a son, Dylan Michael Douglas, in August 2000, followed by daughter Carys Zeta Douglas in April 2003. In August 2013, it was revealed that Douglas and Zeta-Jones had separated after more than 12 years of marriage. A spokesperson for couple told the Huffington Post website that "Catherine and Michael are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage." After a brief period apart, they reconciled in 2014.
Outside of his busy acting career, Douglas is active in promoting human rights. His work in this area includes serving as a United Nations messenger of peace.
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