Michael Douglas Bio: From Romancing The Stone To Wall Street

Michael Kirk Douglas was born September 25th, 1944 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was the eldest son of actress Diana Dill and film legend Kirk Douglas, but the pair divorced in his youth. Douglas was then raised by his mother. Reluctance and stage fright almost derailed Douglas' acting career before he began, but he eventually earned a B.A. in drama from the University of California. He also spent time with his father on movie sets, which helped him learn the valuable skills required to become successful in Hollywood. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the life and career of actor and producer Michael Douglas.
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Michael Douglas Bio: From Romancing The Stone To Wall Street

He won an Oscar for telling us that “Greed is good.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be taking a look at the career of Michael Douglas.

Michael Kirk Douglas was born September 25th, 1944 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was the eldest son of actress Diana Dill and film legend Kirk Douglas, but the pair divorced in his youth.

Douglas was then raised by his mother, and spent little time with his father because of their turbulent relationship. Reluctance and stage fright almost derailed Douglas’ acting career before he began, but he eventually earned a B.A. in drama from the University of California and spent time with his father on movie sets to learn valuable talents.

Douglas then continued his acting studies in New York. Upon graduating, he secured minor parts in several small films at the end of the ’60s and into the 1970s.

In 1972, Douglas landed his first significant role: he spent the next four years beside Karl Malden on the television police drama “The Streets of San Francisco,” playing the part of Inspector Steve Keller. Aside from earning him three Emmy Awards, that show allowed him to step behind the camera as well, and this set him up for his next great success.

In 1975, Kirk Douglas gave his son the film rights to Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Though the younger Douglas decided against playing the film’s main role, he did co-produce the adaptation that year with Jack Nicholson as its star. The movie swept all five major categories at the Academy Awards, and this included Douglas’ Best Picture Oscar.

Douglas then stepped back in front of the camera for a few more films. However, it was his producing and acting efforts alongside Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon in 1979’s “The China Syndrome” that earned him further acclaim. That smart and highly-praised thriller told the tale of a nuclear power plant disaster, and was ironically released just 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in New York State.

The next year, Douglas was seriously injured in a skiing accident and was unable to work for three years. He made his comeback in the 1984 adventure comedy “Romancing the Stone,” and secured his reputation both as a leading man and as a solid producer. He and his co-stars Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito returned for the sequel “Jewel of the Nile” the next year.

Douglas then rocked the box office in the horror thriller “Fatal Attraction,” before he took on his meatiest acting role to that point. In 1987, Douglas played stock market mogul Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” and this career-defining performance earned him an Oscar for Best Actor.

Douglas continued his winning ways into the ‘90s, both as a producer and as an actor. However, around this time he was treated for alcohol abuse.

Despite this, his career soon rose to even higher heights when he starred opposite Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct” and Demi Moore in “Disclosure.” Throughout the 1990s, he chose diverse projects, including acting roles in “Falling Down,” “The American President,” “The Ghost and the Darkness” and “The Game,” and numerous production credits.

In 1997, his 23-year marriage came to an abrupt end. He soon became involved with his “Traffic” co-star, Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was 25-years younger, and the pair married in 2000. Meanwhile, Douglas was praised for his role as a professor in “Wonder Boys,” and appeared alongside his family in “It Runs in the Family.”

Douglas remained busy, but his biggest victory in recent years came when he returned to the role of Gordon Gekko in the sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” However, shortly before that film’s big screen release, the actor revealed he was battling throat cancer and had shifted his energy to focus on family, health and humanitarian causes.

Though he was originally labeled “the next Kirk Douglas,” this actor and producer defied critics by avoiding the macho and all-American hero performances his father was famous for. Instead, Michael Douglas spent his career playing sensitive, quiet and morally compromised roles, and this earned him his own legacy and identity in Hollywood.
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