by Evan Bartlett, Greg Evans
The legendary Hollywood actor Kirk Douglas died on February 5, aged 103.
Born Issur Danielovitch to Russian immigrants in New York state in 1916, the actor, best known for his role in the films like Spartacus, Ace in the Hole and Paths of Glory went on to become one of Hollywood’s most recognisable faces in the 20th century.
In September 2016, he wrote an article for the Huffington Post just as the US election campaign, which saw Donald Trump soar to victory, was really heating up.
Reflecting on his life, his upbringing and what he witnessed in his near-century of living in America, Douglas sent out a warning to his fellow citizens about what lay ahead.
“They say there is nothing new under the sun. Since I was born, our planet has travelled around it one hundred times.
With each orbit, I’ve watched our country and our world evolve in ways that would have been unimaginable to my parents – and continue to amaze me with each passing year.”
Without mentioning his name, Douglas went on to compare the rise of Adolf Hitler with the populist rhetoric of Donald Trump in those early stages of the election cycle.
“[I’ve] lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.
I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933. For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at ― not taken seriously.
He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric. The “experts” dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong”.
Drawing on Trump’s quotes about keeping out certain groups of immigrants – which he said was reminiscent of how minorities were treated a century ago – Douglas urged his fellow Americans to always strive for freedom and protect the democracy they fought so hard for.
“Until now, I believed I had finally seen everything under the sun. But this was the kind of fear-mongering I have never before witnessed from a major U.S. presidential candidate in my lifetime.
I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country. But your children and mine will be. And their children. And their children’s children.
All of us still yearn to remain free. It is what we stand for as a country. I have always been deeply proud to be an American. In the time I have left, I pray that will never change. In our democracy, the decision to remain free is ours to make.”
Although his words didn’t fully resonate with the American public they remain more pertinent than ever, especially as his death came just hours after Trump was acquitted of two articles of impeachment.