Who Is Michael Douglas?
Actor Michael Douglas gained fame after starring in the cop show Streets of San Francisco (1972–1977). 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 earned 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).
Michael Kirk Douglas was born on September 25, 1944, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Diana Dill. Douglas grew up with three brothers: Joel, Peter and Eric. As the son of a famed actor, 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'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 (1972-1977). 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 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.
'Romancing the Stone'
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.
'Fatal Attraction,' 'Wall Street' and 'Basic Instinct'
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.
'The American President'
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 commander-in-chief in Rob Reiner's The American President (1995), co-starring Annette Bening.
'The Game,' 'A Perfect Murder' and 'Wonder Boys'
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 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."
'Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps' and 'Behind the Candelabra'
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 LaBeouf 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 1960s entertainer Wladziu Liberace. Damon played his love interest in the critically acclaimed 2013 television movie. Douglas won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the famed entertainer.
'Last Vegas,' 'Ant-Man'
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 and reprised his role in the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018).
Douglas' 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.
Marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones
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 the 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.
Sexual Harassment Allegations
In January 2018, The Hollywood Reporter published an article in which writer Susan Braudy alleged she had been sexually harassed while working for Douglas’ production company in the late 1980s. Braudy said Douglas fondled himself in front of her, made inappropriate comments about her body and later pressured her to sign a nondisclosure agreement before firing her.
Attempting to get in front of the story before its publication, Douglas told Deadline, "How am I, in a 50 year career in this industry, dealing with an employee 33 years ago who perhaps is disgruntled that I let her go, even though I have never heard from her in 32 years."
Douglas later issued a statement about his accuser that read, “This individual is an industry veteran, a senior executive, a published novelist and an established member of the women’s movement — someone with a strong voice now, as well as when she worked at my company more than three decades ago. At no time then did she express or display even the slightest feeling of discomfort working in our environment, or with me personally. That is because at no time, and under no circumstance, did I behave inappropriately toward her."
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