When Catherine Zeta-Jones married Michael Douglas in November 2000, it was she who entered into a family with a storied Hollywood lineage. Zeta-Jones, born to a seamstress and a small factory owner, had a very different background compared to Michael, whose parents were the renowned Classic Hollywood figure Kirk Douglas and Diana Dill. Despite their disparate upbringings, Michael found himself fitting in well with his new in-laws. Zeta-Jones’ parents, David and Patricia Jones, were initially surprised by her choice of partner.
In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Michael, who is the same age as his in-laws, shared, “I wasn’t quite the son-in-law her parents had envisioned!” However, they quickly grew fond of him. He humorously mentioned, “I do like to wind up Catherine’s father and call him Pops.” During the upbringing of Michael and Zeta-Jones’ children, Dylan and Carys, the family would visit David and Patricia in Wales each summer. These visits offered the children a chance to experience life beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and allowed Michael and Zeta-Jones some quality time alone.
“The grandparents have a very nice house up there, but they do normal stuff in Mumbles and it gives us a chance to do something romantic,” Michael mentioned. His positive relationship with the in-laws was reciprocated. When Michael and Zeta-Jones took a break in 2013, his mother expressed her closeness to the couple, stating, “I knew they would work it out,” when they reconciled the following year. Kirk Douglas held similar sentiments.
Catherine Zeta-Jones had a special place in her heart for Kirk Douglas and affectionately referred to him by a pet name. In a December 2019 Instagram post, she celebrated Kirk’s 103rd birthday with a heartfelt message. Beyond their personal connection, Zeta-Jones admired Douglas for the positive changes he brought about in Hollywood. When presenting a Golden Globe award with Douglas in January 2018, Zeta-Jones highlighted his role in ending the Hollywood Blacklist in 1960, emphasizing his decision to credit blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for his work on ‘Spartacus’. Douglas reciprocated this respect, expressing, “I want to say a speech, but I don’t want to say it because I could never follow you.”
Following Kirk’s passing in February 2020, Zeta-Jones openly displayed her affection for him on social media. She shared a black-and-white photo of them together on Instagram with the caption, “To my darling Kirk, I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already. Sleep tight.” Even after his passing, she continued to express her appreciation, commemorating what would have been his 104th birthday in a December 2020 Instagram post.
Michael Douglas, a big admirer of Kirk Douglas, experienced both mutual admiration and some professional tensions due to their shared industry. In the 1970s, Michael sought his father’s permission to acquire the rights to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a project Kirk had previously turned into a play with himself in the lead role. Michael secured the rights, but ultimately, Jack Nicholson played the lead in the 1975 film, earning an Oscar for his performance.
In retrospect, Michael acknowledged his father’s initial disappointment, stating, “In his version, ‘Yeah, sure, Michael gets the project, takes a year, sets it all up and doesn’t cast me in the part!'” Despite this, Michael believed that director Miloš Forman thought the role called for a younger actor. Over time, Kirk forgave the situation and remained supportive of his son. Michael always knew he could rely on his father, especially during the early years when Kirk dealt with fame and the aftermath of his divorce from Diana Dill. Michael expressed, “We always knew he was there.”