As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas has received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Currently, he is No. 17 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, and the highest-ranked living person on the list. Douglas’s acting talents were noticed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, which gave him a special scholarship. He became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Douglas acting, in 1951
“You must know how to function and how to maintain yourself, and you must have a love of what you do. But an actor also needs great good luck. I have had that luck,” speaking about himself Douglas confessed. He cited The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Champion, Ace in the Hole, The Bad and the Beautiful, Act of Love, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Indian Fighter, Lust for Life, Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Lonely Are the Brave and Seven Days in May as the films he was most proud on his acting career. For most of his career, Douglas enjoyed good health and what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of energy but in 1996 he suffered a severe stroke. He than recovered. He celebrated his 100th birthday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, joined by several of his friends and family, including Don Rickles, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, his wife Anne, his son Michael and his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones. Douglas has donated to various schools, medical facilities and other non-profit organizations in southern California.