Jerusalem Post, Internet Edition, 16th July, 2000:
Kirk Douglas: An active legend comes to town
By Eli Muller
JERUSALEM (July 16) - American screen legend Kirk Douglas might have regaled the audience at Thursday night's opening of the 16th Jerusalem International Film Festival with the tale of his triumphant return to the screen, following a stroke that threatened to leave him wheelchair-bound and mute a few years before.
Instead, his words unmistakable despite his slightly slurred speech, the 83-year-old actor offered an extended greeting in Hebrew to the admiring throng as he described a lifetime of Zionist and Jewish commitment.
Douglas, one of whose most famous roles was the portrayal of War of Independence hero Mickey Marcus in Cast a Giant Shadow, is in Jerusalem to receive a life achievement award at the festival and to be honored by Mayor Ehud Olmert for his philanthropic work and love for the city. Douglas has sponsored playgrounds and community centers in both Jewish and Arab areas of the capital.
The festival will include a screening of Douglas's return to the screen in Diamonds, a comedy in which he plays a Jewish boxer recovering from a stroke.
"Diamonds was very important to me," Douglas said at a press conference Friday afternoon. "I thought that I would never be able to make another picture."
Douglas said that his stroke has given him a renewed commitment to Judaism and philanthropy. "They say that tragedy brings people together. The tragedy of my stroke brought my self together, and made me think about the need to do something on behalf of other people."
Offering a prayer for the success of Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the Camp David summit, Douglas bemoaned the division he sees in Israeli society.
"It is a tragedy that the secular Jews here do not see the beauty of the religious world, and that the religious do not see the beauty in the secular world," he said. "The depth of your piety is not measured by size of your skullcap or the length of your peot [earlocks].
"I feel very close to Israel," Douglas continued. "Maybe I will move to Israel someday."
Although he has been named one of 25 screen legends by the American Film Institute, Douglas insists that he will remain active and is currently at work on a memoir about his stroke and a book about his mother.
"I don't like the idea of being a legend; it makes you feel like you're already dead. Still, it's flattering that people think that you've done something right."