December 10. Noon. In the prime heartland of residential real estate in Beverly Hills.
Michael Douglas flew in from New York and Joel Douglas arrived from Palm Springs to spend the day with Big Daddy Kirk Douglas. To dine with him and Anne Douglas and 50-plus friends in celebration of Kirk’s historic 101st birthday.
Son Peter Douglas was unavoidably detained in San Francisco.
It was Michael who suggested that he hold one finger up to indicate “one”, Kirk make an “o” with his thumb and forefinger, and Joel add another single finger to indicate a “one” for our intrepid photographer Jolene Schlatter’s iphone snapshot that is on this page.
George Schlatter joined the guests for the buffet in the Douglases art-filled residence. Who was there? The renowned investment adviser Anita Rosenstein with her developer husband Arnold Rosenstein, Kelly and Ron Meyer, Kirk’s cardiologist Dr. P. K. Shah with wife Kimberly, gallerist Paul Selwyn with Joan, and Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
All admiring the huge cake iced with an image of Kirk from his 1949 breakthrough film, Champion (a pair of boxing gloves nestled nearby).
Another cake was iced with sunflowers as a nod to Kirk’s role as Vincent Van Gough in Lust for Life (1956) famous for his museum painting of the yellow blooms.
He additionally starred as French impressionist artist Toulouse-Lautrec. In Moulin Rouge (1952).
Kirk’s three-Oscar career ranks with the major cinema idols of our time, credited as he is with 92 movies.
His bonanza of accolades through the years range from the AFI’s Life Achievement Award to the Kennedy Center Honors.
Kirk has authored numerous books, including his 1988 autobiography The Ragman’s Son.
He and Anne’s philanthropies are phenomenal.
On his 99th birthday, the Dougleses contributed $40 million to Harry’s Haven, an Alzheimer’s facility at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills. They added another $15 million to expand it.
They established the Anne Douglas Center for Homeless Women at the Los Angeles Mission, where hundreds of women have turned their lives around.
In Culver City, in 2004 they opened the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
They’ve supported the Anne Douglas Childhood Center at the Sinai Temple of Westwood.
They’ve given millions for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Also have contributed to the rebuilding of over 400 aged Los Angeles Unified School District playgrounds that were in need of restoration.
“At their own expense, they traveled to more than 40 countries to act as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S. Information Agency, speaking to audiences about why democracy works and what freedom means”, informs a government representative.
Speaking with George Schlatter the following day, George mused how lucky he and Jolene were to participate in Kirk’s 101st birthday. “That’ll live with us now and forever.”
George Schlatter is a Grande Seigneur in Hollywood. In his Missouri youth, George became the pride of his family, singing tenor with the St. Louis Municipal Civic Light Opera. Influenced musically by his mom Miriam, a classical violinist, and his aunt Eileen, a concert pianist.
When Hollywood came calling, he became the host/ maestro of Ciro’s nightclub on Sunset Boulevard where the Comedy Store is. Cinema kings and queens flocked to the hangout, where Lana Turner dances with Cesar Romero, and sighed, “I’d rather rumba than read.”
In time, George moved on to producing television successes such as, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in, where George delivered their comedic flair of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin.
“NBC needed a show to compete with Lucille Ball on CBS, and we were it.” Popular specials followed with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Shirley MacLaine.
He created the long running American Comedy Awards in 1987 for ABC TV.
Nominated for eighteen Emmy Awards, George’s production offices continue to buzz with a loyal staff developing projects.
“As wonderful and influential as my mom and aunt were, the most wonderful and influential person in my life is my wife Jolene, who – reluctantly! – admits to our great 50 years of togetherness.”