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Michael Douglas – The Instinctive Actor
 
Michael Douglas was born in New Jersey in the family of actor Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch), son of immigrants from Mogilev Region (Belarus, then Russian Empire) and Bermudian-born actress Diana Love Dill. He was their first child and his father's successful films career - including roles in such classic movies as  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Vikings (1958) and Spartacus (1960), with an Oscar for lifetime achievement - had a huge influence over the boy.
 
Having received a B.A. degree in drama from the University of California, the young man tried his acting skills on television, and soon a breakthrough followed... The 1969 CBS-TV "Playhouse" special, "The Experiment", brought him recognition and his first fame. A string of successful roles both on television and in movies cemented his reputation of an outstanding and charismatic actor, and made it easier for Michael to start a new line of his career: production.
 
In 1975 his father Kirk handed over to him the rights for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which Michael turned into a future classic and even a cult movie that won Oscars in two categories: Best Actor and Best Picture...
 
The legend says Kirk Douglas gave the rights to the story to his son hoping he would play the leading role, but Michael, in an act of stubbornness and some filial disloyalty, deemed his father "too old" for the role and picked instead Jack Nicholson, who received the Academy Award for his acting and the never-dying affection from his fans. It is not known whether the incident was followed by a fatherly reprimand involving Kirk's heavy belt and Michael's lower back...
 
Despite his success as a producer, Michael never stopped acting, playing notable roles in Coma (1978), Running and The China Syndrome (1979) – films that never got recognition as masterpieces but still were destined to become classics. The China Syndrome, for example, was called by some critics "one of the most intelligent Hollywood films of the 1970s", and Coma served as an inspiration to a host of more (or less) successful medical thrillers of modern-day cinema.
 
Some of Michael Douglas' characters, as it sometimes happens, were so authentic, that the audiences started to accept them as real people. One notable example is the character of Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone's Wall Street (1987): Gekko's famous  saying "greed is good" became the motto of many a professional or amateur trader, and after the market crashes of 2008-2009, ironically, brought public criticism on Michael's head! The fact that the role brought Douglas a golden statuette only exacerbated the displeasure of the masses - a worrying but true statement to the actor's talent.
 
When asked what he likes more: acting or producing, Michael answered: "I love the fact that on one side, with acting, you can be a child – acting is wonderful for its innocence and the fun. . . On the other side, producing is fun for all the adult kinds of things you do."
 
Michael has not been too public with his personal life. In his long life, he's only had three relationships, that brought him three children: son Cameron (an actor of minor fame) with Diandra Luker, and a son and a daughter with star actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (married in 2003). Ten years after the marriage with Zeta-Jones, the couple had a difficult period and there were even rumors of divorce, but Catherine and Michael overcame the difficulties and rejoined.
 
In 2010 it was revealed that Michael Douglas suffers from one of the most aggressive forms of cancer – tongue cancer in the 4th stage (most advanced stage), and during subsequent years the actor lead a 'personal war' against the disease. As a result, the tumor was defeated, and the prognosis is good now.
 
Sources:
"Michael Douglas, acting on instinct" – John Parker, 1997
"Lucky number 90" – Tom Tugend,  The Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2006.
 

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