Anne Douglas Dies: Kirk Douglas’ Widow & Longtime Philanthropist Was 102

Anne Douglas, a longtime philanthropist and former publicist who was married to Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas for 65 years until his death in 2020, died today at her Beverly Hills home. She was 102.

Her stepson, Oscar winner Michael Douglas, said in a statement released by the family:

“My father could never keep a secret. Anne 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.’ She brought out the best in all of us, especially our father. Dad would never have had the career he did without Anne’s support and partnership. Catherine and I and the children adored her. She will always be in our hearts.”

The elder Douglases co-authored the 2017 book Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood. It chronicled the couple’s courtship and marriage; stories of their famous contemporaries like Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Lauren Bacall and others; anecdotes from numerous film sets and dinner parties; the couple’s travel to more than 40 countries as goodwill ambassadors; personal stories of their relationships with several U.S. presidents and first ladies starting with JFK and Jackie; and surviving the down times including his near-fatal helicopter crash, a debilitating stroke and the 2004 death of their youngest son, Eric.

Anne Douglas was an avid philanthropist, co-founding the Cedars-Sinai Research for Women’s Cancers. She and her husband also led a massive campaign to refurbish playgrounds at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, renovating more than 400 and always personally attending dedication ceremonies when they opened.

She also funded the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission downtown, and the Douglas Foundation has contributed more than $118 million to a variety of causes, including the Motion Picture and Television Home’s Alzheimer’s and dementia unit, Sinai Temple’s Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center and St. Lawrence University’s Kirk Douglas scholarships for minority students.

Anne Douglas also was a key player in the fundraising drive that bankrolled construction of the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles, and the family foundation funded construction of the Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, just east of the Sony Pictures Studios lot.

Born Anne Buydens on April 23, 1919, in Hanover, German, Douglas also had a sporadic career as a producer on the features Scalawag (1973) and Deep River (2009) and as a co-EP on the 2009 documentary Kirk Douglas: Before I Forget.

Survivors by a son Peter; stepsons Michael and Joel; daughters-in-law Catherine and Lisa; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, Lua Izzy and Ryder; and a sister, Merle Werbke. Her son Eric died in 2004.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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