Peter Ustinov's daughter , Andrea , when , as a girl, asked at one point at school, what her father does for a living , replied - " Spartacus !" Such was the length of inumerable weeks and months , and well over a year ,in which it took to make the film !
But it was the film for which Sir Peter received his first of two Best Supporting actor , Oscars . And what a film , and , yes , from our man Ustinov, what a performance .
But the film was the baby of another man , and that man lives , and today , is 100 ! Any liberal minded ,humanitarian oriented ,creative person, is inspirational. To me , to many. Sir Peter Ustinov was . Kirk Douglas is. Today we salute the great and good ,actor and man , the legendary , Kirk Douglas ! Born of immigrant Jewish stock , his is a rags to riches tale , with a difference , it was literaly that . He was , as the title of his own autobiography described, " The Ragman' Son ."
A wealth of memorable , powerful ,special, film performances , do not do justice to the many of many parts , despite the many parts he played. For he is more than the sum of those parts. As are any of us in many ways. As a producer , it was on that very film , Spartacus , that Kirk Douglas , broke the blacklist , the witchunt, that prevented so called Communist sympathisers , often nothing of the sort, from working in the movies .Many were no more that left-leaning social democrats , liberals or activists for peace. It was a policy , insidious in it's effect, that ruined lives, blighted careers, plagued Hollywood , divided America, and tarnished creativity. Douglas not only gave his own exciting performance as Spartacus, the slave and gladiator,he produced the film. It was as it's producer , he employed Dalton Trumbo, the respected screenwriter ,who had been blacklisted , and allowed him to be credited on the screen. It was that , and in doing it , that was the breaking of the blacklist.Screenwriters had , on rare but sporadic occasions, worked surrepticiiously, for or because of friends , but only with a name that was an alias not there's. Actors could not hide their faces and fared worse , but writers could hide their name and did so. Only once in a very long while , and only in secret. Trumbo was credited . And Douglas must be too. For being a man of principle.In his profession as an actor , producer, in his politics as a liberal Democrat. He is that for sure.
He has been thus all his life and career. Flawed, driven, as a man and a professional. He is , however , a man who has given far more than many. He has backed so many good causes, he is in many ways a true humanitarian. With his stalwart and loyal wife, Anne, he is gradually giving away his fortune. To hospitals , charities , children, old people, those who need it. Of course he himself survived not just the whims of fashion and prejudice and taste in Hollywood. He survived a stroke. That which for a quarter of a century has impeded the speech of that great and unique voice, has not silenced it .
Centurion very nearly, centenarian he is . Happy 100th Birthday Kirk Douglas!