On this day in 1944, Michael Douglas, who will become one of Hollywood’s A-list stars in the 1980s with such blockbuster films as Wall Street and Fatal Attraction, is born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Douglas is the son of the Academy Award-winning actor Kirk Douglas, whose best-known films include Spartacus and The Bad and the Beautiful. Michael Douglas shares a birthday with his wife, the Welsh-born actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was born 25 years earlier, in 1969.
Douglas made his feature film debut in 1969’s Hail Hero! and rose to fame playing a police inspector on the television series The Streets of San Francisco from 1972 to 1976. He scored his first major movie success behind the cameras, as the producer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), which starred Jack Nicholson as an inmate at a mental institution. The film was the first to triumph in all five major Academy Award categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Screenplay (Adapted) and Best Director (Milos Forman). Among Douglas’ other movie credits in the 1970s was The China Syndrome, which he produced and co-starred in with Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon. In the 1980s, Douglas had a string of blockbusters, including Romancing the Stone (1984), which co-starred Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito (Douglas’ college roommate at the University of California at Santa Barbara) and its 1985 sequel Jewel of the Nile. In 1987, Douglas appeared opposite Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, a thriller about a married man who becomes involved with a woman who becomes obsessed with him and stalks his family after he ends their affair. Also that year, Douglas starred in director Oliver Stone’s Wall Street as the ruthless corporate raider Gordon Gekko, whose motto is “Greed is good.” Douglas won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance.
In the 1990s, Douglas starred in such films as Basic Instinct (1992), with Sharon Stone; Disclosure (1994), with Demi Moore; and The American President (1995), with Annette Bening. In 2000, he earned acclaim for his performances in Steven Soderbergh’s drug-war drama Traffic and Curtis Hanson’s Wonder Boys. That same year, on November 18, Douglas married Zeta-Jones, his second wife and co-star (though they had no scenes together) in Traffic, in a star-studded ceremony at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Zeta-Jones later won a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar for her performance in Chicago (2002). Her movie credits also include The Mask of Zorro (1998), The Terminal (2004) and No Reservations (2007).
In August 2010, it was announced that Douglas was beginning treatment for an advanced case of throat cancer. The actor confirmed the news on an episode of “Late Show with David Letterman” on August 31.