GRANITE AND STEEL (Kirk Douglas, R.I.P.)

Turns out he wasn’t quite immortal after all, except, of course on the screen. I mean, gee, what’s left now?

Out of the Past, Ace in the Hole, Paths of Glory, Lust for Life, Seven Days in May, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Spartacus, The War Wagon, Last Train From Gun Hill, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Young Man Without a Horn…and that’s just a few of the ones I’ve seen.

He was that rare leading man who was equally at ease with the hero, the villain, the sidekick or the prestige acting job, the popcorn movie or High Art. Come to think of it he might have been the only one. Much as I love his competition–Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, Richard Widmark–I can’t imagine any of them, or even Burt Lancaster, making a credible Vincent Van Gogh or Bix Biderbecke.

He outlived them all, too. Come to think of it, he outlived everyone except Olivia De Havilland. Proof, I guess, that dexterity and eclecticism are signs of an active mind. Not to mention a healthy soul.

Don’t worry brother. You stayed big. It was the world that got small.

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