The love story of Kirk and Anne Douglas: The affair between colleagues, regardless of infidelity, changed into a life filled with romance

When Anne Buydens first met Kirk Douglas, she had strictly insisted that their relationship would never be more than professional. She was married to a Belgian friend and Kirk courted actress Pier Angeli. He was a famous American actor and she would be nothing more than his bilingual publicist. At least that’s what Anne thought all those years ago when the two paths crossed on the sets of ‘Act of Love’ in Paris around 1953.

Little did Anne know that this once “insensitive” man would become the greatest listener and confidante she had ever known, and that they would be together for 85 years. Together they embarked on a journey that braved the storms of infidelity, cancer, and the loss of a child. The strength of their relationship was so great that Anne died on April 29 at the age of 102, just a year after the death of her beloved husband in February 2020. After their death, let’s take a look at where the couple’s journey began.


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American actor Kirk Douglas watches a book with wife Anne Buydens in 1956 (Getty Images)

In their joint memoir, Kirk and Anne: Love Letters, Laughter and a Life in Hollywood, Anne addressed her Belgian husband, whom she reportedly married “for security reasons” during World War II. Kirk wanted to hire a bilingual publicist at the time, and his friend had suggested Anne, who couldn’t be more professional. But Kurk was delighted from the start. In her memoir, he notes, “This self-obsessed beauty (Anne) was very different from the women I’d worked with in Hollywood since Diana (his ex-wife) left me.”

They decided to be friends first. Anne finally opened up to him to her traumatic past in Germany and Kirk finally offered his ears and comforted her. Anne wrote in her memoir that by then she had realized that Kirk wanted more than a professional relationship. She, too, fell in love with the actor, but resisted because she knew too well how often women wasted their lives on business with big stars. So they spent romantic weekends together, performing in public to buy an engagement ring for Angeli. In retrospect, Kirk called himself “insensitive” because he never let his future wife forget that he intended not to marry anyone other than Angeli. Little did he know that this engagement would end in less than a year, and by May 1954 he would be married to Anne.

Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne Budyens are coming to London for the premiere of his new film ‘Spartacus’ (Getty Images).

The marriage was no accident. Anne packed her bags and threatened to leave Kirk before making a suggestion. His philandering didn’t stop after he tied the knot either, but Anne was always surprisingly calm and accepted this trait of his personality. In 1988, Kirk even boasted of wandering eyes, but Anne passed the mantra on in her memoirs on their long marriage. “Kirk never tried to hide his disagreements from me,” she said in the book, adding, “As a European, I understood that it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.”

But infidelity, no matter how significant a suffering was to the couple, wasn’t all their marriage consisted of. Kirk once wrote in a letter to Anne: “Always remember, darling, I need you … for you, I hope to do wonderful things in life. That’s it – you and me and our family forever!” However, her long eternity was soon marked by Anne’s terrible battle with breast cancer. Kirt also suffered a stroke shortly after Anne was diagnosed, but her suffering was not over.

Actor Kirk Douglas with his wife Anne Buydens and their son Peter Vincent Douglas (Getty Images)

Perhaps the greatest tragedy her life was involved in was the death of her youngest son, Eric Douglas. The couple lost Eric to a drug and alcohol overdose in 2004. Bitter sweet and turbulent, Kirk and Anne were still striving for a happy life. Kirk kept his promise to do wonderful things for them both and gave Anne the grand wedding they never had on their 50th wedding anniversary. Anne also surprised her husband when she converted to Judaism shortly before this grand ceremony.

At the time of Kirk’s death on February 5, 2020, his eldest son Michael Douglas (with ex-wife Diana) shared his homage to the late actor: “For me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply a father, for Catherine, a wonderful one Father-in-law, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, their loving grandfather, and his wife Anne, a wonderful husband. “Michael shared similar feelings for Anne. In a tribute to his late stepmother, the 76-year-old actor said: “She got the best out of all of us, especially our father. Without Anne’s support and partnership, Dad would never have had the career he made.”

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