After news of actor Kirk Douglas’ passing at the age of 103, it’s now the time to take a look back at his offscreen and philanthropic achievements.
Douglas’ peak was a time when Hollywood actors had to rely on the studio system. Not having the benefit of the large paychecks that current celebrities now enjoy, the ‘Spartacus’ actor decided to take a step ahead by starting his own production company. This decision allowed him to make films outside of the traditional studio system.
He then let his wife Anne take charge of the company’s money management over the decades that followed.
Thanks to successful investments, their earnings, which were put into a trust, grew into quite a large fortune over time.
Despite sitting on this kind of wealth, Douglas was reportedly not much of a philanthropist. That would eventually change, though.
The catalyst for his change of heart came in the early ‘90s. The actor experienced a close brush with death after getting injured in a helicopter accident.
After this, Douglas turned back to the Jewish faith, which he reportedly abandoned as a child.
He then set his eyes on donating to charitable institutions. According to an anecdote, he asked his wife and bookkeeper, Anne, how much money they had from producing.
She informed him that they had about $80 million. Douglas, incredulous, replied that he wanted to give it away.
The Douglas Foundation
Through The Douglas Foundation, the couple has donated over $50 million to various charities. Among the institutions to benefit from the late actor’s generosity is St. Lawrence University, his alma mater, the Sinai Temple, which houses the Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center, and the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
They also donated towards some of Anne’s favored philanthropic pursuits such as the building of more than 400 playgrounds in Los Angeles and a homeless shelter, the Anne Douglas Center for Women.
Still, the couple’s biggest donations were given to the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF). The organization reportedly helps members of the entertainment community in times of need.
In 2012 alone, Douglas gave away $20 million towards their cause. They’ve also raised money for causes like Alzheimer’s and dementia.