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"I came from abject poverty," Douglas told Esquire in 2007.

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"She said they had had an argument," Douglas recalled. But what I like about working with Burt—it ain't dull."In 1996, Douglas suffered a stroke that severely hampered his ability to speak.

Refusing to retire, he underwent years of speech therapy and made a big-screen comeback in 1999's "Diamonds," a comedy about a boxer recovering from the same affliction.

Then, like Anne, it was part of my life."The role of Vincent Van Gogh in 1956's "Lust for Life" had a disturbing effect on Douglas, who at times felt himself "going over the line, into the skin" of the Dutch artist whose mental illness drove him to suicide. "I could never play him again."Douglas (seen here with Frank Sinatra at the 1959 Boomtown gala, a charity event that raises money for children in need) wasn't one for staying up until the wee small hours of the morning. It's a crapshoot: You roll the dice, and you see what happens."Douglas bought the rights to Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and starred in an adaptation of the novel on Broadway.

He'd often duck out early, even when he was the host. You must go back and try to act like nothing happened.'"It had the earmarks of a winner—directed by Elia Kazan, co-starring Faye Dunaway not long after "Bonnie and Clyde"—but 1969's "The Arrangement" was a critical and financial flop. But by the time it became a movie—produced by his son Michael—Kirk was too old to play R. Mc Murphy, so the plum role went to Jack Nicholson.

Here he is with his son Michael, the future Oscar winner and star of hit movies like "Romancing the Stone," "Fatal Attraction" and "Wall Street." Family life wasn't as serene as this photo suggests.

Douglas would be the first to admit that he wasn't a faithful husband, and Diana, Michael's mom, filed for divorce in 1949.

"But she couldn't."Douglas was linked to Golden Age icons ranging from Marlene Dietrich and Gene Tierney to Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner, his co-star in 1952's "The Bad and the Beautiful." His oddest hookup was with Joan Crawford: "In the middle of our lovemaking, she murmured, 'You're so clean.

It's wonderful that you shaved your armpits when you made 'Champion.'" Never mind that it wasn't true.

At the time, he was falling in love with Anne Burdens, the festival's 34-year-old head of protocol, who would become his second wife.

A poised and elegant Belgian, Anne Burdens had turned Douglas down when he tried to hire her as a Paris-based publicist and general assistant in the early '50s.

But they ended up marrying in 1954, renewed their wedding vows in 2004 and celebrated their 60th anniversary 10 years later in Beverly Hills.

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