It’s been an open secret for a long time that lots of publications keep pre-written obituaries of public figures in reserve so that they can be the first to run a tribute upon that person’s death. And if you’re already in the business of predicting celebrity death, a pre-written obit for Spartacus star Kirk Douglas, who turns 98 next week, just seems like covering your bases. I mean, really, the only way it could possibly go wrong is if you accidentally make the post public on your website with “DO NOT PUB” in the headline as apparently has happened to People Magazine.
In a further bit of unintentional perfection, the first movie listed in writer Stephen M. Silverman’s tribute to Douglas is Ace in the Hole, a scathing critique of a callous media that prioritizes publicity above human life. Great movie, incidentally.
In some 75 movies – including seven costarring his friend, Burt Lancaster, as well as 1951’s highly regarded Ace in the Hole (a stinging early portrait of the media from director Billy Wilder), the 1952 Hollywood exposé The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1956 Vincent Van Gogh biopic Lust for Life – Kirk Douglas was a superstar even before the term was coined. He also possessed the on-screen intensity and the off-screen ego to go with it.
I’m sure this mistake will be corrected soon, but if one good thing can come out of this, it’s that for once the dead guy is actually around to hear all the nice things people say about him. We should all be lucky enough to read our own glowing tributes.
And if there are two good things that can come out of this, the second one is definitely the schadenfreude of watching People react to the leak of their pre-written obituary that ends with them quoting their own article about Kirk Douglas’s chin dimple:
But there were many good times, too, including Kirk’s joy at welcoming Michael’s second wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones into the family, in a lavish 2000 wedding – and the birth of Michael and Catherine’s first child (they have two), son Dylan, born Aug. 8, 2000.
“You know, Dylan has a dimple bigger than mine,” the proud grandpa told PEOPLE. “[But] I think he looks more like Catherine. Catherine with a dimple. Not bad!”
Well there you have it. Kirk Douglas was a great actor, an intense personality, worked with Dalton Trumbo when no one else would, and through it all, had a hell of a chin dimple. And were he ever to die, well, we don’t want to be morbid or anything, but the man would surely be missed.
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-Thanks to sharp-eyed reader RL for the tip