Along with his legacy of being an iconic actor and beloved family man, Kirk Douglas will be remembered for his philanthropic pursuits. However, the Spartacus star — who sadly died at age 103 on Wednesday, February 5 — seemed to credit his wife, Anne Buydens, for their extremely generous and charitable spirit.
“I have been lucky in the two most important areas of my life — my career and my wife,” Kirk once gushed to Closer Weekly in an exclusive interview. The Paths of Glory actor, who was married to Anne, 100, for over six decades since 1954, explained why giving back became such a big part of their life.
“When Anne and I were married, 61 years ago, I had my own production company, Bryna, so that I could make the pictures I wanted rather than being under a longterm contract to a studio or producer which was the norm in those days,” Kirk recalled at the time. “That way, when I starred with Burt Lancaster in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, he was still under contract to Hal Wallis for one more picture, and Wallis had to pay me 10 times Burt’s salary for the same production.”
The Lust for Life actor joked he thought he was “very clever and rich,” but “Anne soon discovered that my lawyer and best friend had told me what I wanted to hear, but he never paid the taxes and lived a grand lifestyle on my money,” he explained. “That’s when Anne took over as President of Bryna. One of the first things she did was to start a pension fund for us and our employees.”
Kirk said although he didn’t make “the astronomical sums that stars have become used to today,” he made more than enough to get by after being apart of nearly 90 films. The Academy Award winner — who leaves behind sons Michael Douglas, 75, Joel Douglas, 73, and Peter Douglas, 64 — noted he and Anne “always felt an obligation as well as a joy in sharing our good fortune for worthy causes.”
“One of the things that makes us happy is to identify specifics that will help the communities we love, particularly in the areas of women’s and children’s health, education, and the arts,” the late star continued. “It is our philosophy to be hands-on with all our philanthropy.”
Kirk even dished how his wife takes care of business. “Anne supervises everything, and we don’t hire outside staff, so our foundation costs are low,” he said. “I used to ask her, ‘How can I help?’ And she always answered, ‘Get a job. We need the money.'”
Prior to his heartbreaking passing, Kirk and Anne were “in the process” of making more generous donations. “When Anne told me that our ‘little’ pension fund was now worth $80 million, I was excited,” he gushed at the time. “More to give away!”
The proud husband added, “She is a woman of great faith, but she likes to say, ‘I ask God to help us achieve our goal, but God doesn’t have any money. That’s where Kirk comes in.'”
We will miss you, Kirk!
For more exclusive content, sign up for our Closer Weekly newsletter!