On TV, I was a thoroughly happy kid watching Kirk Douglas in YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN, DETECTIVE STORY and, especially, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. Man, how I love that 1952 Vincente Minnelli Hollywood-on-Hollywood film with Douglas as a gifted yet manipulative movie producer.
My first and only guest for the premiere edition was Kirk Douglas. We'd taped it the previous week. The taping day was wonderful and nerve-wracking. Kirk Douglas showed up early. Two days early at our studios on West 57th Street across from CBS. He was schedule for noon on Thursday. He arrived for noon on Tuesday. We had just done a lighting and sound check on the set and were about to break for lunch, when I got a call from the receptionist in the lobby. She whispered into the phone "Can you hear me? Kirk Douglas is here. Alone. In the lobby." I said, "He's not booked until Thursday." She replied, "You want me to tell Spartacus to go home?"
Of course not. I dashed into the studio. Told our great crew that Spartacus was early and in the lobby. They all postponed lunch and prepared to tape my show with Kirk Douglas. My love and knowledge of his films and co-stars carried me through as we also discussed his book, THE RAGMAN'S SON. When I got to the lobby to greet him, I saw that he was indeed solo. No publicist. No entourage. He had his itinerary and showed it to me. I realized his mistake -- which I never told him was a mistake. He mistook a handwritten "Th" for a "Tu" and, thus, figured he was due Tuesday. He was gracious, charming and complimented that our young crew was aware of his old movies. He had Old Hollywood class and charisma. You could tell he was quite at ease with his Hollywood legend status.
Here's a clip of him on my VH1 show talking about his son, Michael Douglas.
Here's a short reel with another clip of Kirk Douglas from our VH1 interview. He's up after Norman Mailer.
I never forget how lucky I was to work on VH1. Three of the best years of my career. I was never, ever offered another national talk show host opportunity. And I really wanted another talk show host opportunity. I loved that VH1 job and the crew. I will always cherish my time with Kirk Douglas.
One more thing. Kirk Douglas starred in a 1979 comedy western called THE VILLAIN. Ann-Margret and Arnold Schwarzenegger co-starred. It's not one of Douglas' better efforts. He plays a bank robber and the movie basically is a stretched out version of a Warner Bros. Yosemite Sam cartoon. But, one hour into the story, the film is completely stolen by Paul Lynde on horseback as a Native American Indian Chief called Nervous Elk. I live to hear Nervous Elk, on horseback, say "White woman is crazy."