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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Michael Douglas: A film superstar at 60
After starring in more than 30 films, producing 20 more, winning a best actor Oscar, having had two wives, three children and one divorce, how will Michael Douglas celebrate his 60th birthday?

Michael Douglas at an awards ceremony in February 2004
Douglas has appeared in court twice in 2004

His face is sometimes more familiar to tabloid readers than cinemagoers.

The trial of a woman accused of stalking his Welsh actress wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, is just the latest in a string of juicy off-screen stories.

In July this year the death of his half-brother, Eric Douglas, after apparently mixing alcohol with prescription drugs gave him unwanted publicity.

Earlier in the year a row with Hello! magazine over wedding photographs brought Douglas and Zeta Jones to the High Court in London.

In the early 1990s he was labelled a "sex-addict" and sought treatment in a Los Angeles clinic.

And he raised a few eyebrows by divorcing his first wife, Diandra, in June 2000 four months before marrying Zeta Jones - exactly 25 years his junior.

Distinguished career

Yet as an actor and producer he has enjoyed a distinguished career as formidable as that of his father, Kirk.

Douglas pictured with first wife Diandra in 1994
Douglas was labelled a sex-addict by his first wife

After odd-jobbing on films and featuring in minor roles during the 1960s, Douglas junior began to make a name for himself in the early 1970s, first of all as a stage actor, then on the small screen.

His role alongside Karl Malden in the iconic cop show The Streets of San Francisco brought him to the notice of the prime-time viewing public.

He dropped out of the series when the chance came to produce Ken Kesey's classic novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for the big screen.

The project had been in the Douglas family for over a decade.

Kirk Douglas had played the lead role of Randle Patrick McMurphy in the stage version before buying the rights to the film in the 1960s.

After several unsuccessful attempts to make the film himself, Douglas senior was, by this time, too old for the main part and Jack Nicholson filled the space.

Out of his father's shadow

The 1975 film achieved triple success - critical acclaim, box office success, and five Academy Awards, including best actor, best actress, best picture and director.

As executive producer of the film, Douglas junior stepped out of his father's shadow.
The couple receive an award for the 2001 film Traffic, in which they both starred
Douglas starred alongside his wife in the 2001 film Traffic

In a 1986 interview with Playboy magazine he admitted it was hard being the son of an icon.

"I saw my father as a gladiator, nailed to a cross, as an artist who cut his ear off and he would be shown doing these superhuman things," he said.

"I'd think, 'How can I possibly be a man? How can I be the man this man was?'"

In contrast to his Kirk's all-American hero image, the younger Douglas began to produce controversial films, often with a political message.

The most notable of these was the China Syndrome where he starred with Jane Fonda in the story of an attempted cover-up at a nuclear power station.

The film was well-received and gained extra poignancy when, two weeks after it opened, there was a partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Sex and violence

During the 1980s Douglas managed to mix lightweight, crowd-pleasing box office hits - Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile - with hard-hitting social critique in Oliver Stone's Wall Street.

It was for his portayal of Gordon Gekko, the corporate raider with his "greed is good" mantra, in Wall Street that Douglas finally won the best actor Oscar.

In the early 1990s Douglas once again courted controversy.

This time he starred in a several films portraying sex and violence in a way many found unacceptable.

Erotic thriller Basic Instinct sparked outrage in 1992 for its stark sexual content.

A year later he was mired in controversy over Falling Down, the story of an unemployed man enduring a psychotic episode and taking it out on anyone who crossed him.

The film was criticised for encouraging violence and intolerence.

Since then Douglas has taken on a string of high-profile roles without hitting the heights of Wall Street, nor courting the controversy of the China Syndrome.

A Basic Instinct sequel is one of Hollywood's most talked-about potential projects. It remains to be seen whether Douglas will reprise one of his most violent, sexually-charged roles or, in his sixtieth year, choose to act his age.


SEE ALSO:
Douglas son 'died accidentally'
10 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
Zeta Jones wins 3m Hello! costs
23 Jan 04  |  Entertainment


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