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Kirk Douglas celebrates 100th birthday with family and friends

Veteran Hollywood star Kirk Douglas has celebrated his 100th birthday at an intimate gathering of friends and family.

With boxing gloves in every centrepiece and the theme from Rocky blaring over the speakers, Douglas, one of the last remaining stars of Tinsel Town's golden age, walked confidently into the Sunset Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Flanked by Anne Douglas, his wife of over 62 years, son Michael Douglas, daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones and his grandchildren, Douglas looked out over the crowd of about 150 people, including Don Rickles, Jeffrey Katzenberg, his rabbi and many of his closest friends and smiled.

Not only was he surrounded by friendly faces, he knew, as promised by his doctor years ago, that if he lived to 100, he would get to have a glass of vodka.

Before the vodka was presented in a comically large martini glass, Douglas sat and listened to tributes from his loved ones as images from his many classic films such as Spartacus, Lust for Life and Paths Of Glory played on a screen behind him.

Michael Douglas kicked off the proceedings, saying: "One of the things that I find most incredible about dad is the third act of his life.

"After all he accomplished in his professional career and what he's given for his country, at the point in his life where he's faced adversity, losing a son, having a helicopter crash, having a stroke, and what he's accomplished in this third act in his life, I find quite extraordinary."

Douglas Snr kept his remarks brief: "I wonder who he was talking about? He said some nice things about someone I don't know," and joked that his son was chosen to organise proceedings because "he has the most money".

The birthday boy thanked everyone for coming and marvelled at seeing most of his family in the crowd.

Zeta-Jones then lit the 12 candles on the cake.

"I'm so glad there's not 100!" she exclaimed, before leading the room to sing Happy Birthday with a string quartet accompaniment.

Comedian Rickles lightened the reverent and respectful mood, quipping to the crowd from his seat that he wanted to go home.

He poked fun at Douglas's good looks and physique, saying that he had to hear the "I'm Spartacus crap" every day, and how Burt Lancaster used to advise him that Douglas "doesn't know what he's talking about".

On a serious note, he added: "You are an outstanding man because you've been blessed with warmth and love and class, and ... ah, forget it, you're all of that and more. May god give you strength and may you be with us for 100 more. If that's his wish, so be it, if not, I know in heaven you'll be in charge."

Film producer Katzenberg reflected on the generosity of the Douglas family who are famous for their charitable giving.

"You have remained and will always remain my hero," Katzenberg said. "I will remind you of your words that you gave to me and I try to give to other people all the time which is, 'you haven't learned how to live until you learn how to give'."

Steven Spielberg - who arrived late and on crutches, having recently broken his foot on set - came with a very specific message.

"I wanted to come here and say I've been shooting movies and television shows for now 47 years, and I've worked with the best of them, and you're the only movie star I ever met," Spielberg said.

"There is something that you have that no one else ever had. When you watch Kirk's performance in anything, in anything he's ever done, you cannot take your eyes off of him. It's not possible to look away from him."

AP

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