Anne Douglas, the widow of the late legendary Hollywood actor Kirk Douglas and producer known for her philanthropy work, has died. Douglas passed away "peacefully" at her home in Beverly Hills Thursday afternoon at the age of 102, family spokesperson Marcia Newberger confirmed to CNN. Her death comes just over a year after the death of her husband, whom she was married to for 66 years and with whom she shared two sons, Peter and Eric.
In a statement to Deadline paying tribute to his stepmother, Oscar winner Michael Douglas said his "father could never keep a secret" and Douglas "was just the opposite. 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.'" Michael sad his stepmother "brought out the best in all of us, especially our father," who "would never have had the career he did without Anne's support and partnership." Michael added that Douglas was "adored" by him, his wife, and children and "will always be in our hearts."
Born in Hannover, Germany, Douglas was a film publicist who worked for director John Huston as a location scout and assistant on Moulin Rouge (1952). In 1953, she began a three-year stint as head of protocol at the Cannes Film Festival. She met Kirk that same year when he offered her a job as his publicist while in Paris to film Act of Love. Reflecting on the moment they met in their co-authored book, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, Kirk wrote, "she finally agreed to work with me on a trial basis, making it clear our relationship would be strictly business."
"We talked for hours, and I had a strange feeling in my heart that I could fall in love with this man," Douglas added of their earl interactions. "I didn't want to, because I had seen too many young women enter into intense affairs with visiting movie stars — Dean Martin, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant among them. Then the film wrapped and the men returned to their wives and families."
The couple married in Las Vegas in May 1954, welcoming their sons, Eric and Peter, in 1955 and 1958, respectively. The couple held a second ceremony on their 50th anniversary in 2004. Along with her work as a film publicist, Douglas was also a philanthropist and served on the boards of The Mark Taper Forum and the Center Theater Group. Along with being one of the original founders of the Cedars-Sinai Research for Women's Cancers, Douglas also founded The Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission. She is survived by her son Peter, stepsons Michael and Joel, daughters-in-law Catherine and Lisa, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a sister. Her son Eric died in 2004.