The couple have accepted each other, worts and all. Despite the challenges and storms in their marriage, they weathered it all.
One of the sweetest things that would make you fall in love with the unconventional couple, Kirk Douglas and Anne Buydens, is how religiously they have corresponded with each other through their 65-year-long marriage. Their letters about love, Hollywood and their family life show a colorful and warmhearted couple, who have stood the test of time. The couple tied the knot on May 29, 1954 and have one of the longest marriages in the history of Hollywood. They have had their share of challenges but what keeps them together is their honesty.
They had a rocky start and took years for Kirk to realize that he should have been better. When they first met in 1953, he was already an A-list star and yet she said no when he asked her for dinner. “I thought, I’ll take this young beauty to dinner at the most romantic (and expensive) restaurant,” he wrote in an article he penned for the LATimes. “She’s sure to approve of my taste and ability to get a last-minute reservation.” He assumed she would be enchanted with the amount of influence he has, but what happened was quite the opposite. She responded, “No, I think I’ll stay in and have some scrambled eggs.” She also refused an offer of doing public relations for the film he was working on at the time.
"She was not interested in a frivolous affair," Kirk Douglas, 100, wrote in the couple's book, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood. "This self-possessed beauty was very different from the women I had been involved with in Hollywood since [ex-wife] Diana left me...Anne was a sophisticated woman, unlike my virginal Pier Angeli, who took her mother on all our dates."
Gradually, she opened up about escaping Germany to him and the trauma it left on her and he encouraged her to seek therapy. The professional association led to a romantic one but did not let her forget that he was engaged. "I cannot believe how insensitive I was," he wrote.
Anne was married to "a Belgian friend [she'd married] during World War II for safety reasons," according to People while Kirk was "secretly engaged" to actress Pier Angeli. He was notorious for being divorced and seeing multiple people as well, something that did not change even after they married. However, Anne, being a European, was accepting of this. Their commitment to each other was a lot more than physical fidelity. "As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage," she said.
He later invited her to New York. After spending some wonderful time with him, when she told him she would be returning to Paris is when it hit him that he did not want to lose her. "I'm not proud that it took me until then to realize how much I didn't want to lose her, and I'm not proud that I put so little thought into our wedding," he wrote in LATimes.
However, he never disappointed her in his commitment to her. The space they gave each other was a foundation for the rock-solid marriage. "Always remember darling, I need you...for you, I hope to do wonderful things in life. This is it—you and me and our family forever!" he told her once, according to Country Living.
The couple shared many letters throughout their life and some of them have been shared with the public. What we see is a union of two mature souls, who understand and accept each other the way they are. “Anne never tried to change me, but she never hesitated to speak her mind,” Kirk said.
In 1958, Kirk was away shooting a movie when he wrote to his wife, “If I live to be 100, there will still be so many things unsaid", according to the New York Jewish Week. When he celebrated his 100th birthday on December 9, 2016, he sent a follow-up note, “As I have now reached that milestone, I can attest that it is still true.”
Anne, who turned 100 in April, said, “After 60 years of marriage, you go through a lot of obstacles — and all of them are beautiful.” She had her Kirk,102, right by her side. And he added, "I just told my wife, ‘If you ever leave me, I’m going with you!’”