Legendary actor, author and Amsterdam native Kirk Douglas is still very much alive, contrary to details in an obituary posted this weekend on the website of People magazine.
Screen captures of Douglas’ obituary on People.com began circulating on several social media platforms late Sunday night. And “Kirk Douglas” was a trending topic on Facebook for most of Monday.
But he’s still alive to dispute the central fact in the obit, which appears to have been posted in error — its headline was “DO NOT PUB Kirk Douglas Dies.”
It has since been removed from the website.
The screen captures say that the article was originally created Sept. 29, 2014, but it is unclear when it was first posted.
“Kirk Douglas, one of the few genuine box-office names to emerge just as TV was overtaking American culture in the years right after World War II, died TK TK TK,” the article said.
It is common for newspapers and magazines to write obituaries for public figures in advance. “TK” takes the place of copy that will be written when the person dies.
Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, is famous for his starring roles in “Spartacus” and “Lust for Life,” among other films. He has also penned a number of books including “The Ragman’s Son,” in which he touches on his early life in Amsterdam. His latest book is “Life Could Be Verse: Reflections on Love, Loss, and What Really Matters.”
In a statement issued in response to the obit, Douglas said: “The announcement of my death his premature. I am looking forward to turning 98 next week.”
City of Amsterdam Historian Robert von Hasseln said Douglas has mixed feelings about the city.
“He is very good to the people that know him well but he never displayed a real affinity for the city itself,” von Hasseln said. “In his books he doesn’t seem to have great memories of the time he spent in Amsterdam. He was Jewish and his father was a local ragman and he received a lot of abuse.”
Though Amsterdam was a diverse city during Douglas’ childhood in the 1920s, von Hasseln said, Jewish people were among the smallest minorities.
“People from Poland, the Ukraine, Italy, Ireland all lived in the city,” he said. “But there were never a lot of Jews in the city and this caused him to get into several small scraps in school.”
Douglas left the city to attend St. Lawrence University in 1939, according to von Hasseln, and never lived in Amsterdam again.
He said many people expected Douglas to do more for the city once he became “rich and famous.”
“Some people in the city resent him for not embracing the city and doing more for the community,” von Hasseln said. “When he moved away from Amsterdam many people felt he moved on from Amsterdam and this ticked some people off.”
He added that Douglas has a noticeable “Amsterdam twang” that comes through in some of his movies.
“When I watch some of his old movies I can definitely notice a twang that only old Amsterdamians have,” he said. “I am surprised no one has ever picked up on that.”