EXCLUSIVE: Michael Douglas has more on his mind that the impending worldwide launch of his latest foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania which opens February 17, and has its World Premiere in Westwood Monday night. Or even his upcoming Apple TV+ eight episode series Franklin based on the life of founding father Benjamin Franklin in which he plays the title role.
The actor is also currently dedicated to his work as Trustee with the Douglas Foundation, the charitable entity that had allocated more than $118 million in grants before Kirk Douglas’ death three years ago at age 103 and his wife Anne’s death a year later at 102 (they were married for 66 years). Michael says the Foundation has disbursed several million dollars since then.
Now the Douglas Foundation, which was created by Kirk and Anne in 1964 when Michael was just 20, has just launched for the first time a high resolution on-line library of documents, photos and memorabilia digitized from Anne’s private archives of more than seventy years. Some 10,000 items in all from the couple who, among other enterprises, used their celebrity to spread American good will as State Department ambassadors in self-financed travels to more than 40 countries. Aside from Kirk’s 80-plus films, and 12 books, he and Anne were known widely for their charitable and humanitarian works.
“After they passed,” Michael tells Deadline about this discovery of his father’s and stepmother’s life and works, “we faced the heartbreaking task of sifting through Anne’s many hiding places in Beverly Hills and Montecito as well as several commercial storage areas. She saved everything! There was a hint of the quantity and quality in their 2017 book called “Kirk And Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood”, but there was so much more.”
Michael had no idea this new venture he was pursuing on behalf of the Douglas Foundation would lead him into areas he has never experienced in his life or career.
“Not being a child of the digital age, I presumed it would take years to reproduce everything, would be prohibitively expensive, and have limited accessibility. And then a friend told me about a remarkable Israeli photographer named Ardon Bar-Hama who developed a technique and a camera that allowed him to capture stunning high-res images of the most fragile of artifacts,” he said. “One of his first commissions was digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Vatican trusted him with its most precious acquisition, a Christian Bible dating to 350 A.D. Ardon has photographed the documents in Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela’s archives, and 80,000 historic items from Carnegie Hall, amongst his many digitized projects. So I thought he could be trusted with Anne’s modest treasure trove! I couldn’t believe that he works alone and quickly, bringing only one suitcase with him. Inside is the camera he designed valued at $50,000 that produces the highest resolution–up to 1,200 megapixels.”
Michael says that anyone with an internet connection can access the website at https://douglasfoundation.org/archive/. It has just gone live. Having just perused some of it, it is indeed a remarkable collection made new all over again thanks to modern technology.