Before he passed away in 2020, Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne Buydens had been together for approximately 66 years.
However, the couple penned a book about their lengthy marriage titled “Kirk and Anne: Love Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood,” which was published in 2017.
On the ‘Act of Love’ set in Paris, Douglas and Buydens first connected. Douglas was a well-known actor, and Buydens was a film publicist.
The moment the actor first spoke to the publicist was ‘terrible’ because Buydens declined his invitation to dinner, stating instead that she was “tired,” according to Douglas:
She was the most challenging person I’ve ever met. After all, I was a famous movie star! She declined my invitation to dinner because she was too exhausted, saying, ‘Oh, thank you very much.’
Buydens, though, remembered their initial conversation differently. She claimed that Douglas called her into his office and asked her to find a bilingual PR. Because she was fluent in French, German, and English, Buydens was the ideal choice.
Douglas asked Anne out to dinner when Buydens arrived at the office, which had been renamed ‘the lion’s den,’ but she declined and said she would eat scrambled eggs at home.
The movie star was surprised by the refusal, but the film publicist was fully capable of handling the situation.
Eventually, Douglas gave up wooing her and hired Buydens as his publicist. Their interaction remained entirely business-related.
Douglas’ choice to refrain from trying to impress his new publicist also motivated him to put an end to his self-promotion and pay attention to what Buydens had to say.
Buydens and Douglas became more at ease with one another after this insight. They started going to events together, and a big one was a circus-themed charity gala.
Buydens remembered Douglas diving into the melee and scooping an elephant dunk while dressed in a suit. The publicist found it impressed when the movie star did something unexpected and humorous like that.
In an interview with the Today show, the actor claimed that Buydens’ stern demeanor taught him that ‘Anne didn’t take a crap,’ adding,’ And she still doesn’t.’.
In 1954, the movie publicist finally consented to date Douglas. The actor’s business management was questioned by Buydens, who also discovered that Douglas was poor.
When Buydens remarked, ‘I’m going out with a poor man,’ he recognized that Hollywood’s allowances, not his pay, were what allowed him to live such opulently.
However, the actor used the business acumen his father had taught him and contacted a few reliable business contacts to help him make better financial decisions.
He was secretly engaged to actress Pier Angeli at the time when Buydens and Douglas began dating. When ‘things would become heated’ between them, the novelist and film publicist recounted, Douglas would remind her he was still engaged.
However, Buydens did not want for her relationship with Douglas to end up in secrecy. Even though it took him some time to call off his engagement, the movie star acknowledged that his relationship with Buydens went beyond simple love.
After Buydens threatened to leave him, Douglas eventually called it quits with Angeli. At that point, the actor understood he would be ‘lost without her.’
In May 1954, Douglas and Buydens exchanged vows. Peter and Eric, two sons, were welcomed to the family, joining Joel and the two kids from Michael Douglas’ first marriage to Diana Dill, who also had two sons.
A LOOK BEHIND THE COUPLE’S UNCONVENTIONAL WEDDING
Douglas and Buydens each have their own unique strategies for maintaining their union. The actor was frank about his extramarital affairs while he was married, and his publicist wife was well aware of everything.
Buydens talked about how she was okay with her spouse leaving their marriage in the book they co-authored; she said:
Kirk never made an effort to conceal his liaisons from me. I realized it was unreasonable to anticipate complete fidelity in a marriage because I’m European.
Buydens also discussed a situation with a previous lover in one of her writings. While she awaited the approval of her American citizenship, she made the decision to pay him a visit at his hotel suite in Paris.
Buydens claimed that when she discovered the man drunk, he begged her not to go back to her husband, Douglas.
Things became tense when the man made angry outbursts and burned Buydens with a cigarette to ‘make sure Douglas does not want her anymore,’ according to the man.
The film’s publicist, however, claimed that she sought medical assistance to sedate her ex-boyfriend and fix the scar on her face.
Buydens recalled Douglas holding her in his arms and promising to keep her safe ‘as long as we are both alive’ when she related the tale to her husband. Douglas fulfilled his commitment to his wife 66 years later.
The couple spent a lot of time apart because to Buydens’ hectic existence as a movie star and the fact that he had taken time off work to be with the kids.
Douglas should take a commercial trip, the publicist advised, emphasizing that he would not be boarding Todd’s aircraft.
Douglas and Buydens would therefore communicate through writing letters to one another about their days and feelings while they were separated.
Originally, ‘Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood’ was going to be a different book that collected all the letters Douglas had gotten from renowned figures like Frank Sinatra, Barack Obama, and others.
But when Buydens pulled out a box containing all of their letters, the novel turned into a love story between them.
ANNE’S IMPACT ON KIRK’S LIFE
Douglas and director Mike Todd were good friends. Douglas talked about the day he missed the opportunity to present Todd with an honorary award in New York in the book “Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood.”
The director advised Todd and Mike to board a private flight to New York and make a stop in Missouri so they could visit Hary Turman when they were engaged in ‘their customary tennis match.’
Douglas thought the whole thing sounded like fun, but when he enthusiastically told his wife about the vacation, she instantly banned him from going.
Buydens stated that she required her husband’s presence while she was six months pregnant with their second kid.
Douglas should take a commercial trip, the publicist advised, emphasizing that he would not be boarding Todd’s aircraft. Purchased said:
‘I don’t know what happened to me, but I felt uncomfortable.’ Unquestionably not, Kirk.’ On that plane, I don’t want you. You can take an inexpensive flight and meet him there.
The discussion degenerated into a heated argument. Douglas was furious despite giving in and not choosing Todd.
The couple recalled loading the car the next day and driving to Los Angeles. Buydens chose to turn up the radio as the altercation grew more tense, and Todd’s passing was reported. No one survived the crash of Todd’s jet in New Mexico. Completely stunned, Douglas remembered:
‘I instantly parked on the road’s shoulder. I stepped out of the car awkwardly. Anne came with me. We were sobbing as we stood with one another in a tight embrace.
My life was saved, darling, I finally said. From now on, I shall always have faith in your judgment.’ The altercation between Douglas and Buydens swiftly turned into a time of admiration.