They met in 1953 in the city of love, Paris, and married a year later. Their strong bond has seen them through some of the toughest times.
Actor Kirk Douglas was known for his steely blue eyes, the heroic characters he donned, his philanthropy, but most importantly as the one who stayed with the woman he married for more than six decades. Their long-lasting relationship was full of ups and downs, and while he lived a full life, the Spartacus actor made sure that his wife never felt neglected.
As one of the top actors in the 1950s and 60s, he'd always been showered with adulation from fans, especially women, so when he first met Anne Buydens, to whom he was married until the day he died, he was surprised. Buydens didn't give him the attention he was used to and when she rejected his advances he was quite taken aback. The setting had been right after all. Buydens, a film publicist, met him in Paris in 1953 on the set of film Act of Love, according to the Town & Country.
She wrote about their first encounter in their book, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood. "He said, 'Come on, let me take you to the lion’s den," she said. He had been referring to his trailer.
The veteran actor had also revealed his side of the interaction. "I thought, I'll take this young beauty to dinner at the most romantic—and expensive—restaurant in Paris, La Tour d'Argent," Douglas told the Los Angeles Times. "She's sure to approve of my taste and my ability to get a last-minute reservation."
However, she refused his advances. "No, thank you, I think I’ll go home and make myself some scrambled eggs," Buydens told The Vikings star. "She was the most difficult woman I ever met," Douglas told USA Today. "I mean, I was a big movie star! And I invited her to dinner and she said, 'Oh thank you very much, but I’m so tired.'"
Buydens went on to work with him as a publicist, but the relationship didn't turn romantic until "I stopped talking about myself and began to listen to her," the actor wrote in Kirk and Anne. After they started dating, he wanted her to know that he was not just the hero she saw on the screen.
She eventually came around and they wed in 1954 and went on to have two sons together. The Bad and the Beautiful actor later attributed his long life to the woman, who stood by his side as a partner at home and at work. "I was lucky enough to find my soulmate 63 years ago, and I believe our wonderful marriage and our nightly 'golden hour' chats have helped me survive all things," he writes in celebrity magazine Closer Weekly.
In one of the letters, Kirk had written to Anne, he said, "Darling, How is it that when I am away from you, such love for you overwhelms me at 2:30 in the morning—as it is now—I awake to write to you. How incomplete I seem without my family. How can a man live alone? To live just for yourself is to be dead. And yes I welcome this parting from you to rekindle my awareness of how much you mean to me. The early hour brings out the poetic side of me."
The foundation of their relationship was not just the love they felt for each other but also the work they wanted to do together. In 1955, she took over the bookkeeping of the production company he formed that year and ensured that their future was protected.
"My wife is very smart," he told thehollywoodreporter. "Fifty years ago she set up a trust, and it's been growing ever since. So recently [in 2012] I said, 'How much money do we have in that?' And she said, '$80 million.' I said, 'What?!'" Anne said Kirk had to catch his breath after finding out. "He said, 'I want to give it away.' And that's exactly what's happening," she said.
The couple pledged $50 million to his alma mater, St. Lawrence University, Westwood's Sinai Temple, Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the construction of 408 playgrounds in the L.A. school district and the Anne Douglas Center for Women, a homeless shelter.
Together, they nurtured a large family of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who were there for each other through thick and thin.
The legendary Champion actor passed away at the age of 103 on February 5, 2020, of natural causes, bringing an end to his love story with Buydens, 100. Together, they were 203 years old!
"Romance begins at 80 And I ought to know.
I live with a girl Who will tell you so." — Kirk Douglas