Michael Douglas refused to call Kirk Douglas “dad” and was more attached to his stepdad

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For decades, the late Kirk Douglas enjoyed a fruitful career. His conviction towards the art fetched him several prestigious awards and eventually made him a household name. When his son, Michael Douglas, entered the industry it seemed like his father had passed on his acting to him as the 77-year-old has an Oscar to his name.

Now, Michael was born to the Paths of Glory actor and his first wife, Diana, who of whom were well-known Hollywood stars. The former couple met at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and soon began dating. After tying the knot in 1943, they enjoyed a few blissful years of marriage but after 8 years agreed that their relationship had become too turbulent to continue.

They two divorced in 1951 and Kirk went on to marry Anne Buydens and their relationship spanned decades. However, in doing so, he apparently became distant from his son Michael. Despite having a successful career of his own, the Antman star says that he has both pleasant and unpleasant memories of his childhood, noting that his parents’ divorce was the turning point.

“My own parents divorced when I was six. I was raised with my brother Joel by our mother on the east coast, visiting my father in Los Angeles during holidays. When your parents are divorced, you don’t know anything else, do you? Kirk’s career was constant, overwhelming – the guy didn’t stop. Back then they were doing five movies a year. My father did 90-plus films. He was Spartacus! I always admired his tenacity and stamina but he was intimidating to me as a child. Like a lot of actors, he was consumed with ambition and his career,” he shared according to The Guardian.

This ambition and workload prevented him from visiting his children too often. Per Mirror, the actor said he believed his late father only visited them “out of guilt” and thus the rift between the two increased. While Kirk was absent, it was Michael’s stepfather who stepped up and raised him as his own. Michael also recalled a phase when he refused to call Kirk “dad” and chose to reserve the title for his stepfather.

“I was really blessed that my mother remarried a great, great guy [William Darrid]. Step-parents never get enough credit. You know, it’s always the wicked stepmother or stepfather but the truth is, there are so many more step-parents who have assumed the responsibility of raising kids that are not theirs and I was really lucky.”

Although Darrid passed away in 1992, Douglas could never forget what he had done for him. “He was my surrogate father from when I was 12 up until adulthood. Kirk would be the first one to acknowledge that. He was a great listener, which is a tough thing to find, and I got to watch a lovely marriage – so it reaffirmed and reassured me that marriages can work,” he added. That being said years later they reconnected as the actor understood why his father was so busy building his career.

“In those key years, when Kirk was doing five movies a year… Kirk was all-consumed, was overworked. Probably like myself at a certain time in my life,” he noted. That’s why a year after he passed away, the Spartacus actor passed away, Michael shared a heartwarming tribute on Instagram. “Can’t believe it’s been a year since you left us, At 103, you picked a good time to check out. I love you with all my heart! #KirkDouglas. Love you Pappy???.”

Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Michael Buckner