Anne Buydens And Kirk Douglas: A Marriage That Braved The Storms Of Infidelity, Illness And Heartbreak For Over 65 Years

Apr 30, 2021 by apost team

In his heyday, Kirk Douglas was one of Hollywood's biggest heartthrobs, and he was no stranger to chasing women. But it was his wife of 65 years, Anne Douglas, née Buydens, that he chose to spend the majority of his life with. After passing away at the age of 103 on Feb. 5, 2020, Kirk left Anne a widow. Over one year following his death, Anne passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on April 29 at the age of 102.

Theirs was a love for the ages — amid the storms of infidelity, cancer, and even the loss of their child, Kirk and Anne stuck together through it all in 65 years of marriage. 

Upon first meeting in 1953 on the Paris set of "Act of Love," the two were involved with different people at the time. Anne was married to Albert Buydens while Kirk was already divorced from actress Diana Dill and secretly engaged to Italian actress Pier Angeli. 

Anne was a film publicist at the time and had been working as a location scout and assistant for director John Huston in 1952. In 1953, she had a three-year period where she worked as head of protocol for the Cannes Film Festival where she scheduled parties and made sure that they were filled with celebrities and media. Kirk offered her a job to be his assistant but she vehemently turned him down, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That was the beginning of their professional relationship, but their romantic one was yet to come. Let's take a look at how they did eventually get together and their great love story over the decades. 

Kirk Douglas, Anne Buydens (1988), (Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)

Kirk Douglas wrote about the beginning of their professional relationship in the book that the couple co-authored in 2017, "Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood." According to The Hollywood Reporter, he wrote:

"She finally agreed to work with me on a trial basis, making it clear our relationship would be strictly business."

Meanwhile, Anne Douglas also had something to say about it:

"We talked for hours, and I had a strange feeling in my heart that I could fall in love with this man. I didn't want to, because I had seen too many young women enter into intense affairs with visiting movie stars — Dean Martin, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant among them. Then the film wrapped and the men returned to their wives and families."

However, what was meant to be would be. Very shortly after at the end of 1953, Kirk ended his engagement to Pier Angeli and by the spring of 1954, in a spontaneous moment, he and Anne decided to get married in Las Vegas after a year of working together and pursuing a complicated relationship. Their son Peter Douglas was born a year later followed by Eric Douglas who was born in 1958. Their marriage would last for more than six decades, which is extremely rare in the Hollywood industry. Speaking about Anne, Michael Douglas said in a statement to People:

"Anne was more than a stepmother, and never 'wicked.' She brought out the best in all of us, especially our father. Dad would never have had the career he did without Anne's support and partnership. Catherine and I and the children adored her; she will always be in our hearts."

Kirk Douglas, Anne Buydens (1962), (Nat Dallinger/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Kirk has even shared the same sentiments with his son Michael, stating:

"I often wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn't married Anne. I might not have survived without her business acumen and her finely-honed instincts. She saved me from financial ruin when she persisted in her distrust of my long-time lawyer and surrogate father, who indeed stole the fortune he told me I had."

He continued:

"She saved my life when she refused to let me fly to New York on Mike Todd's plane which crashed, killing everyone aboard. She gave me tough love when I had my stroke and thought I would never speak or work again. Anne is selfless, compassionate and loyal to a fault. She also has a wicked sense of humor and can make me laugh in English, French and German."

But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the devoted couple. In addition to Anne’s battle with breast cancer and Kirk’s struggle with depression after suffering a stroke, the couple suffered a tragic loss when their youngest son Eric, an actor and stand-up comedian, died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 46 in 2004.

Still, the couple stood strong beside each other. For their 50th wedding anniversary, Kirk lived up to his promise of going big on their celebrations together, surprising Anne with a huge and lavish wedding party that they never had. And in return, Anne surprised him by converting to Judaism, Kirk’s religion, right before the wedding ceremony.

Their love was incredibly strong, and Kirk summed it up the best in one of his letters to Anne:

"Always remember darling, I need you … for you, I hope to do wonderful things in life. This is it — you and me and our family forever!" 

Kirk Douglas, Anne Buydens (1957), (Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images)

After making it to 100 together, now Anne and Kirk Douglas are reunited once more. Did you know about their six-decade-long marriage? Be sure to pass on this article to honor their incredible love story. 

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