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Kirk Douglas has his way
Actor learned heíll receive lifetime achievement award from film festival



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  • By Bruce Fessier
    The Desert Sun
    October 18th, 2004

    Kirk Douglas and his family basked in a wash of proclamations and awards Sunday, and received word of another to come.

    "Entertainment Tonight" hostess Mary Hart, who will emcee the Jan. 8 Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala, announced Douglas will receive the lifetime achievement award at the black tie gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

    Festival Executive Director Darryl Macdonald said it would be one of eight major awards presented at the benefit show to supplement the city of Palm Springsí $350,000 sponsorship of the festival running Jan. 6-17.

    Producer Darryl Zanuck won the award last year. The career achievement award won by Kevin Costner last year is one of six still to be announced, although Macdonald said the recipients have been "tentatively confirmed."

    Some 350 invited guests, including Douglasí three surviving sons, Michael, Joel and Peter, and his wife of 50 years, Anne, attended a ceremony in the Palm Springs Desert Museumís Annenberg Theater to celebrate the naming of a street near the Palm Springs International Airport in Kirk Douglasí honor.

    Douglasí eldest son, Michael, said heíd just heard of his fatherís lifetime achievement award, so he wasnít sure if heíd be able to attend the film festival gala.

    His wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, didnít attend the private celebration because sheís shooting a sequel to "The Mask of Zorro" in Mexico, her husband said.

    The theater presentation and luncheon in the museum galleries felt like a major "welcome home" event for Kirk Douglas, who moved his second home from Palm Springs to Montecito, Calif., after his 1996 stroke.

    More than 100 people gathered near the red carpet entrance to the Annenberg Theater to see the Douglases and stars such as Robert Goulet, Fred Williamson and Trini Lopez.

    Fans, including natives of El Salvador, Finland and Canada, began lining up around 11:30 a.m. Some were still there as Michael Douglas left at 3:20 p.m.

    Inside, Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden, State Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta, and Congresswoman Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs, presented proclamations to Douglas and joked about whose was the biggest or the best. Oden proclaimed Sunday Kirk Douglas Day.

    The event was produced by Joel Douglas, who moved to Palm Springs two years ago and began working with Oden and city officials eight months ago to secure a street sign for his father.

    "Iíve been a lot of places and Iíve seen a lot of things," Joel Douglas said, "But, in my 57 years, this is the proudest and best moment Iíve had."

    Kirk Douglas, who turns 88 in less than eight weeks, introduced his two young grandsons as his "bodyguards" and reiterated that his wife, Anne, deserves her own street sign.

    But Palm Springs Desert Museum board president Lee Appel did present Anne Douglas with a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture for joining the museum board in 1978 and remaining as an honorary board member.

    The ceremony included a power point presentation chronicling Kirk Douglasí contributions to film and Palm Springs.

    Douglas said the Palm Springs International Film Festival "should be the most important film festival in the world" because he was introduced to so many stars at the Palm Springs Racquet Club on his first visit in 1946.

    Family friend Jack Valenti, the recently resigned chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said there wouldnít be a film festival without Kirk Douglas, who pioneered independent filmmaking in the 1950s.

    Bruce Fessier is the people/entertainment editor for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at (760) 778-4622 or via .

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