BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — Their story is the stuff of Hollywood romance.
Legendary actor Kirk Douglas, 97, has been married to his wife, Anne, for 60 years, and in an interview with CBS2’s Pat Harvey, he shares the enchanting stories and secrets to keeping the romance burning.
The pair met in Paris while Kirk was playing the role of Vincent van Gogh in “Lust For Life,” and Anne Buydens was handling the PR for the movie.
Anne, 84, said she played hard-to-get. The two became friends, but she eventually fell for Kirk’s charms.
The couple married in Las Vegas the following year in 1954.
Kirk, who already had two sons — Oscar ® -winning actor Michael and Joel — with his first wife Dianna Dill, went on to have two more — Peter and Eric — with Anne.
Their union has endured the test of time, but not without the occasional argument.
“We argued a lot. But I will tell you about a big argument,” Kirk said.
The scene opens in March 1958, when the Douglases were living next door to Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Mike Todd in Palm Springs. Todd asked Douglas to join him on his private plane on a trip to New York.
“And he said ‘yes,’ and as soon as they left, I said to Kirk, ‘I don’t want you to go,’ ” Anne said.
“We had such a big argument and I finally said, ‘Oh, what the hell, I won’t go.’”
Taylor came down with a cold and didn’t end up going either.
Todd’s plane infamously crashed, and everyone aboard was killed.
“So, from then on, I never argued with her. She saved my life,” Kirk told Harvey.
“I have instincts, and I’ve been right too many times,” Anne said.
The couple has made it through their share of obstacles. In January 1996, Kirk suffered a stroke as he was getting a manicure at home.
He sustained lingering damage to his speech and struggled with depression. The actor credits Anne with pushing him to work with speech therapists.
Just a few months later, Kirk would accept an honorary Academy Award ® for lifetime achievement.
“I intended to just say thank you, but I saw 1,000 people. I felt I had to say something more, and I did,” he said.
The entertainment legend said he was proud to be a part of Hollywood for 50 years and dedicated the statue to Anne.
But what this actor, who’s appeared in more than 90 films, said he’s most proud of is the philanthropic work he and Anne have accomplished together. They hope it will be their legacy.
The Douglases have sold pieces from their art collection to rebuild 409 playgrounds in Los Angeles.
They’ve funded the Alzheimer wing at the Motion Picture Retirement Home and started the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission, which gives homeless women a second chance.
All in all, Anne and Kirk Douglas have given $50 million to five nonprofit groups over the years. One such recipient is the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
The couple’s generosity doesn’t end there, and it’s the bond that holds them together.
“Is there a formula [to staying together]?” Harvey asked them.
The actor responded with a smile: “Yes, there’s a formula. You have to fall in love.”