Actress passes at 92: Diana Douglas Death

Published: July 6, 2015

Actress passes at 92: Diana Douglas Death, The Bermuda native memorably worked with her ex-husband, two sons and grandson in the 2003 film ‘It Runs in the Family.’
Actress Diana Douglas, the first wife of Kirk Douglas and the mother of Michael Douglas, has died. She was 92.

Douglas, who was married to the legendary actor from 1943 until their divorce in 1951, then starred in two films with her ex-husband, died Friday from cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, said Donald Webster, her husband of 15 years.

In the 2003 film It Runs in the Family, about a dysfunctional New York clan, Diana played devoted matriarch Evelyn Gromberg opposite Kirk as her husband, Michael (who also produced the movie) as her son and Cameron Douglas (Michael’s son with Diandra Douglas) as her grandson. Joel Douglas, her other child with Kirk, served as an associate producer. It was her final film.

Kirk, now 98, married Anne Buydens in 1954, and they recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. In 1956, Diana wed Bill Darrid, a Broadway producer and novelist who helped raise her two young boys; their marriage ended with his death in 1992.

“I’ve always enjoyed Kirk’s sense of humor, even when I was angriest at him,” Diana said in a 2011 interview. “He could always make me laugh, somehow, which annoyed the hell out of me. But then I think we both decided too, when the time of divorce came, that we had to maintain a certain amount of civility because of the children.

“I know Michael has said since being an adult that he was always very grateful that we never did badmouth each other. Sometimes we probably wanted to. And also, I think that after [Kirk] got married to Anne, [she] made it very much easier, because she and I cooperated very much in terms of bedtimes and what they could watch on television and that kind of thing.”

Reflecting on her marriage to the mercurial Douglas proved “useful” during the making of It Runs in the Family, she noted, “particularly the scene where we were dancing together. I think there were all sorts of things that we could call on. Actors are always looking for intense memories to call on.”

Years earlier, Douglas called on her to appear opposite him in The Indian Fighter (1955), the first film made by his production company, Bryna.


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