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Legendary Kirk Douglas to Return to Daniel Recital Hall on April 6

Published: April 2, 2010

On Tuesday, April 6, from 1-2 p.m., legendary actor, author, producer and philanthropist Kirk Douglas will return to the Daniel Recital Hall stage at CSULB, to speak to students in the Communicative Disorders programs. The event is open to faculty and staff as well.

Douglas’ appearance was again arranged by Betty McMicken, a CSULB assistant professor in Communicative Disorders and Douglas’ personal speech pathologist, who first brought him on campus in October 2008. Because of their relationship, he has offered to speak with her students again, during which time McMicken will interview Douglas, followed by a question-and-answer session.

“The format will be similar to last time,” said McMicken, who continues to work with Douglas as a speech pathologist once a week. “He will talk about how he has recovered from his stroke, but we will also discuss some of the things he has done in the past year and a half since he was last on campus, which has been substantial; and other elements of his life.”

Douglas, whose speech has been affected since suffering a stroke in 1996, turned 93 in December. In his 2003 book My Stroke of Luck, he tells of his recovery from the stroke while battling waves of depression. Let’s Face It, which came out in 2007, explores the mixed blessings of growing older and looks back at his childhood, his young adulthood, and his storied, glamorous and colorful life and career in Hollywood.

At the upcoming event, he will discuss a new book he is working on and other projects, including the successful run of his one-man play titled “Before I Forget,” that he performed last March. The play provided an intimate evening with one of the most affable, talented and mesmerizing icons of the screen.

“He and I are both looking forward to this event,” said McMicken. “He just keeps getting better. He’s been very active on a number of levels and one thing he’s been doing is raising funds for the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the home in the (San Fernando) valley which almost closed, so he has been very active in supporting it. He truly understands that he couldn’t have done what he did without the support of everybody else in the industry.”

Kirk Douglas and Betty McMicken
Photo by Victoria Sanchez
Legendary Kirk Douglas (l) on stage with Betty McMicken during his 2008 visit to campus.

Over his career, Douglas has performed in 87 films and 10 plays, and written nine books and three songs. In 1949 he earned an Academy Award nomination for “Champion,” received a second nomination in 1952 for “The Bad and the Beautiful,” and a third in 1956 for his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life,” for which he won the New York Film Critics’ Best Actor Award.

Douglas has also received the Medal of Freedom award, the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute and in 1996, a Special Oscar for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.

“He continues to be an inspiration to me, my students, and the many stroke patients who read his books,” said McMicken. “He is the highlight of my week and I consider it an enormous privilege to be of assistance to him.”

–Shayne Schroeder