Who Is Michael Douglas?

Actor Michael Douglas gained fame after starring in the cop show Streets of San Francisco (1972–1977). His film career took off shortly after, with starring roles in The China Syndrome (1979), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Wall Street (1987), for which he won an Academy Award. Later films include Fatal Attraction (1987), Basic Instinct (1992) and Wonder Boys (2000). He earned prominent parts later in his career, starring in films such as the Emmy Award-winning Behind the Candelabra (2013), Last Vegas (2013) and Ant-Man (2015).

Early Life

Michael Kirk Douglas was born on September 25, 1944, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Diana Dill. Douglas grew up with three brothers: Joel, Peter and Eric. As the son of a famed actor, Douglas grew up with a strained relationship with his father, which developed more as he progressed through life. He studied drama at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and in New York at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and the American Place Theatre.

Early Career

Douglas began his Hollywood career as an assistant director on some of father’s 1960s films. After roles in several television dramas, he gained notoriety by co-starring with Karl Malden in the 1970s TV series The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977). He also directed two episodes of the show. In 1975, Douglas served as executive producer for Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which went on to win five Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. He got involved in the film after his father, who owned the rights to Ken Kesey’s novel of the same name, couldn’t successfully develop it into a film. Despite the success of the film, it was difficult for Douglas to find work as an actor, having received so much recognition as a producer. In 1979, he starred with Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon in the film The China Syndrome, which he also co-produced.

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‘Romancing the Stone’

Douglas landed his first leading man role in Romancing the Stone (1984), portraying Jack Colton, an Indiana Jones-type adventurer. This successful teaming of Douglas with Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner led to a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile (1985). The three worked again in The War of the Roses (1989), a dark comedy about an ugly divorce.

‘Fatal Attraction,’ ‘Wall Street’ and ‘Basic Instinct’

In 1987, Douglas made two films that reflected a much darker side: Fatal Attraction, in which he played an adulterer stalked by an ex-lover — played by Glenn Close — and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, in which he played the corporate raider Gordon Gekko, whose trademark slogan is “Greed is good.” For this role, Douglas won an Academy Award for Best Actor. He continued exploring his dark side years later, co-starring with Sharon Stone in the thriller Basic Instinct in 1992.

‘The American President’

In 1988, Douglas formed a production company, Stonebridge Entertainment, Inc., which produced Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners (1990) and Richard Donner’s Radio Flyer (1992). In 1993, he produced Made in America, then starred as a sexually harassed man in Michael Crichton’s Disclosure (1994), and as the titular commander-in-chief in Rob Reiner’s The American President (1995), co-starring Annette Bening.

‘The Game,’ ‘A Perfect Murder’ and ‘Wonder Boys’

In 1994, he signed a development deal at Paramount that included The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), The Game (1997) and A Perfect Murder (1998). He executive produced The Rainmaker (1997), starring Matt Damon, as well as John Woo’s 1997 action film, Face/Off. Douglas earned critical acclaim for his starring role as a rumpled novelist and English professor in Wonder Boys (2000). In the fall of 2001, Douglas headlined the thriller Don’t Say a Word, co-starring with Brittany Murphy in the film. Two years later, he was featured in It Runs in the Family (2003), alongside his famous father, his mother and his son, Cameron. The film, which fared poorly at the box office, told the story of a multi-generational clan trying to get along.

Kirk Douglas: Douglas and his younger 'twin,' Michael, have a father-son moment during the It Runs in the Family premiere in Westwood, California, in 2003. (Photo: WireImage)

Kirk Douglas with his son Michael.
Photo: WireImage

Following in his father’s footsteps, in 2004, Douglas was honored as the recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for his “outstanding contribution to the entertainment field.”

‘Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps’ and ‘Behind the Candelabra’

In 2010, Douglas announced that he would be reprising his role as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. The film, also starring Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan, was released in the United States that September. Douglas went on to work on the biopic Behind the Candelabra, starring in the film as the famous 1950s and 1960s entertainer Wladziu Liberace. Damon played his love interest in the critically acclaimed 2013 television movie. Douglas won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the famed entertainer.

‘Last Vegas,’ ‘Ant-Man’

He also filmed the movie Last Vegas (2013) with several Hollywood legends, including Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. The following year, Douglas starred opposite Diane Keaton in And So It Goes and the thriller Beyond the Reach. In 2015, he starred as biochemist Hank Pym in the Marvel superhero action/comedy Ant-Man and reprised his role in the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018).

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Personal Life

Douglas’ life was forced to a halt in August 2010, when he discovered that he had developed a throat tumor. The 65-year-old actor was told by doctors that he would have to undergo eight weeks of chemotherapy. Doctors expected the Oscar winner to make a full recovery, and Douglas told reporters that he was “very optimistic” about his prognosis.

Marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones

Douglas married Diandra Luker in 1977. They had one son, Cameron, but were separated in 1995 and later divorced. On November 18, 2000, Douglas married Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, his Traffic co-star. The couple welcomed a son, Dylan Michael Douglas, in August 2000, followed by daughter Carys Zeta Douglas in April 2003. In August 2013, it was revealed that Douglas and Zeta-Jones had separated after more than 12 years of marriage. A spokesperson for the couple told the Huffington Post website that “Catherine and Michael are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage.” After a brief period apart, they reconciled in 2014.

Outside of his busy acting career, Douglas is active in promoting human rights. His work in this area includes serving as a United Nations messenger of peace.

Sexual Harassment Allegations

In January 2018, The Hollywood Reporter published an article in which writer Susan Braudy alleged she had been sexually harassed while working for Douglas’ production company in the late 1980s. Braudy said Douglas fondled himself in front of her, made inappropriate comments about her body and later pressured her to sign a nondisclosure agreement before firing her.

Attempting to get in front of the story before its publication, Douglas told Deadline, “How am I, in a 50 year career in this industry, dealing with an employee 33 years ago who perhaps is disgruntled that I let her go, even though I have never heard from her in 32 years.”

Douglas later issued a statement about his accuser that read, “This individual is an industry veteran, a senior executive, a published novelist and an established member of the women’s movement — someone with a strong voice now, as well as when she worked at my company more than three decades ago. At no time then did she express or display even the slightest feeling of discomfort working in our environment, or with me personally. That is because at no time, and under no circumstance, did I behave inappropriately toward her.”


  • Birth Year: 1944
  • Birth date: September 25, 1944
  • Birth State: New Jersey
  • Birth City: New Brunswick
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Michael Douglas is an American actor best known for his roles in films like ‘Wall Street,’ ‘Fatal Attraction,’ ‘Wonder Boys’ and ‘Behind the Candelabra.’
  • Industries
    • Film
    • Television
  • Astrological Sign: Libra
  • Schools
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
    • The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre
    • The American Place Theatre
  • Interesting Facts
    • The father of Michael Douglas is the famed actor Kirk Douglas, known for roles in films like Spartacus.
    • Michael Douglas got the rights to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest from his father, Kirk Douglas, who owned the movie rights to Ken Kesey’s original novel for years.

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  • Article Title: Michael Douglas Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/michael-douglas
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: April 9, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014
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  • For an actor, it’s great fun to play one of these hungry white sharks. Audiences love to hate them.
  • The one thing that men and women have in common—they both like the company of men.
  • All of a sudden the affection from my family, from my friends, and from my fans hit me at a much deeper level than I would have ever imagined before. And it gave me a really new appreciation of just how valuable, how precious good friends are and family.
  • I never expected to become a poster boy for head and neck cancer, but, if after what started out as trying to answer a couple of questions about the suspected sources of this disease results in opening up discussion and furthering public awareness, then I’ll stand by that.
  • What I’m most proud of is that you forget about Matt and me pretty quickly, because the story sucks you in so much that you forget it’s about two guys, and you’re just watching a relationship between two people who really love each other.
  • In the past, on purpose, I’ve never known what movie I’m going to do next. I never knew how I would feel when I finished a picture. Now it feels great to be back at work.
  • I was conscious of my father’s fame from the time I was six.
  • When we finally got [One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest] going, my father’s career had changed. He’d become a little older, and our director, Milos Forman, did not think he was right for the lead role. That was probably the most difficult moment in the history of my life with my father.
  • Every time I’m out, a drunken Wall Street guy comes up to me to say, ‘You’re the man.’?It’s depressing. Gordon Gekko was not a hero.
  • My father is 96, and he’s still a really competitive guy. I tease him and say, ‘Let the legacy go on!’ Fathers and sons: They may want to beat you, but they still love you. Who else can you say that about?