Kirk Douglas gave career tips to up-and-coming actors at Tuesday’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of his eponymous theater in Culver City.
When Douglas was starting out in his career he made his way to Broadway, but soon after Hollywood came calling (“They made an offer I couldn’t refuse”) and he headed west. “I gave up my dream of being a big star on Broadway, but in Hollywood I made a lot of money,” he told the rapt crowd. “I learned a lot of things and one of the things I learned was how to get your name on the theater” — dramatic pause — “buy the theater.”
Although he told Variety that he makes it to the Kirk Douglas Theatre “every chance I get,” Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group, said Douglas is “a constant presence in the lobby and backstage. To watch actors come out of the dressing room after a performance and see Kirk and (his wife) Anne is a treat.”
Ritchie and Douglas thanked Gordon Davidson, the founding artistic director of CTG, for his vision in creating the nonprofit theaters.
Ritchie said the CTG’s plans are to continue using the Kirk Douglas as a space for experimental theater. “More people hear about Culver City and the theater, there is a real sense of life going on here,” he said, adding that he’s planning “more programming for children and families. The three theaters (Ahmanson, Mark Taper and KDT) are unified in what we do and market them.”
The event was billed as the 10th birthday of KDT rather than an anniversary and Douglas invited the audience to return to its 20th with him. Perfs from past stagings including “13” and “Stoop Stories” followed and the control booth was named for Anne Douglas.
(Pictured: Gordon Davidson, Kirk Douglas, Anne Douglas and Michael Ritchie at the 10th birthday party for the Kirk Douglas Theatre)