Hollywood is in mourning this week after Anne Douglas, the widow of Kirk Douglas and stepmother of Michael Douglas, passed away. She was 102 years-old.
Entertainment Tonight reported that Anne died at her home in Beverly Hills, California on Thursday, one year after her husband Kirk died at the age of 103.
“My father could never keep a secret. Anne was just the opposite,” Michael said in a statement. “That’s why I was so moved 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; and 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,” he added. “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.”
Anne was born Hannelore Marx in 1919 in Hannover, Germany, and she spent her youth trying to survive in Nazi-occupied France. She eventually began working in film publicity, and she met Kirk in 1953, when he offered her a job as his publicist while in Paris to film Act of Love.
What began as a working relationship soon turned to love as Anne and Kirk travelled all over Europe together. The two of them kept in touch while he was in the Caribbean filming 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and he then urged her to come to Beverly Hills after she finished her work with the Cannes Film Festival in 1954. Kirk proposed to her just six weeks after she arrived in Los Angeles.
Anne became stepmother to Michael and Joel Douglas, and gave birth to two children with Kirk, Peter and Eric, who sadly died in 2004.
In her later years, Anne became known for her philanthropy, as the Douglas Foundation has contributed more than $118 million to worthy causes. The foundation recently announced $50 million to five nonprofits, including the Kirk Douglas Theater, the Anne Douglas Center, the Motion Picture and Television Home’s Alzheimers and dementia unit, Sinai Temple’s Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center, and St. Lawrence University’s Kirk Douglas full scholarships for minority students.
Anne’s family has asked that any donations made in her memory should go to the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission.