In many ways, Kirk Douglas is one of the most iconic of all American Hollywood screen actors. During the course of his illustrious film career, he received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement and the Medal of Freedom.
What is rather less well-known about Douglas is that, in 1991, he only just survived a helicopter crash.
This close call with death led him to revive an interest in religion and spirituality—and, in particular, with his core philosophical family tradition of Judaism.
Douglas celebrated a second Bar-Mitzvah ceremony in 1999 at the age of eighty-three!
In addition to his stage and screen work, Douglas is also highly regraded as a writer with twelve, critically-acclaimed books to his name.
Recently, and at the age of 98, he released his thirteenth publication, titled Reflections on Love, Loss, and What Really Matters Life Could Be Verse. In it, he ponders on his past acting career, the many famous people that he met and worked with over the years and has included anecdotal stories from a bygone, golden era of film-making.
Reflections on Love, Loss, and What Really Matters Life Could Be Verse is a little different from most auto-biographical accounts though in that Douglas intersperses his reminiscences with many of his poems. Many of these date right back to his earliest years as a young man and reveal that he has, throughout his life, displayed a strongly philosophical outlook on life.
Throughout the book, Douglas also pays great homage to his wife, Anne Buydens, whom he met on a film-set in 1951. In 2014, the two of them celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary—feat probably unparalleled in the whole history of Hollywood where celebrity marriages rarely last for any length of time.
Several of the poems are dedicated to Anne but, towards the end, they begin to reveal Douglas’ pragmatic approach to his own inevitable demise. At the age of 98 and with a life as rich and varied as his has been, who could fail but to forgive him for the odd moment or two of reflection regarding his life.
In the final poem included in this book, Douglas finally writes:
“Take me God, I’m ready to go,
I’ve lived almost 100 years,
I want a new adventure.”
Whatever that adventure is one can be sure that it will be as rich, varied and worthwhile as the one that he is finally watching draw to a conclusion.
At 98 years of age, anyone would be immensely proud of the achievements set out in this short biographical account of Kirk Douglas’ life.
Unlike so many other similar appraisals of a fame and fortune, this one glosses over the glitz and glamor of the American Film Industry and focuses instead on pure anecdotal reflections of people, films and places.
Nether does the book dwell on Douglas’ firm Judaic beliefs or upon the immense amount of philanthropical work that he and his wife have done over the years raising an estimated $50M for good causes.
Instead, it is a humble, heart-warming, fascinating and engaging book that highlights the actor’s great love for life, humanity as well as his immense personal dedication to his wife.
As a book in its own right, this is a beautifully-produced publication. It includes many photos from Douglas’ private collection, hand-drawn cartoons as well as the author’s short poems in such a delightful way—one that is consistent with that of a personal scrapbook of memoirs.
There is only one criticism that I can really make of a book as rich and interesting as this one is that it is perhaps a little too short. I would have enjoyed reading more poems and following some of the reminiscences of the author in greater depth but I suspect that this has probably been covered in earlier publications.
Life Could Be Verse is a fitting tribute to the life, loves, creative mind and personal philosophy of one of the all-time greats in cinematic history. If it could be carved in stone, it would act as one heck of memorial headstone!