Diana Douglas Webster was the first wife of acting legend Kirk Douglas, who died on February 5, 2020, at the age of 103.
Kirk Douglas was one of the last living stars of what’s known as the Golden Age in entertainment. Sadly, Douglas has now passed away, leaving behind a huge family, filled with children and grandkids, as well as his wife, Anne Buydens. But, before he married Buydens in 1954, he was married to a woman named Diana Douglas (born Diana Love Dill). Kirk and Diana were married from 1943 and divorced in 1951. They shared two children together and also shared a love of films together.
Diana died on July 3, 2015, at the age of 92. Get to know more about the life she led with ex-husband Kirk, her family and her death below.
1. Diana Douglas Claimed to Have Cheated on Kirk During Their Marriage
Telegraph reported that in 1999, Diana published a candid memoir called “In the Wings”. In the memoir, she reportedly accused Kirk of being a drug-addicted, “sexually voracious bird of prey”. Because of this, Kirk reportedly threatened to boycott the wedding of his son Michael to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones if ex-wife Diana attended. According to Telegraph, also in Diana’s infamous memoir, she claimed to have had an affair with actor Errol Flynn during her marriage to Kirk.
With ex-husband, Kirk, Diana Douglas had two children – sons Michael and Joel. Michael, who was born in 1944, went on to become one of the biggest A-list actors in Hollywood. Joel, who was born three years later, became a film producer. Joel went on to marry four times and all of his marriages ended in divorce, with the exception of his latest marriage, which left him a widower. Actor Michael Douglas, Diana’s eldest son, is married to actress Catherine Zeta-Douglas and he went on to star in countless films, including Fatal Attraction, Disclosure, Wall Street, Basic Instinct, The American President, The Ghost and the Darkness, and A Perfect Murder. In 2010, Michael overcame stage four cancer, which was first believed to be throat cancer, but was later confirmed by Michael as tongue cancer. According to The Guardian, Michael said that his cancer was caused by the HPV virus, which is transmitted via cunnilingus.
In 2013, Michael and wife Catherine briefly split, and Michael opened up about the rift in their relationship to The Guardian. Michael admitted that, “The problem in this business is that everything is so public. I love Catherine as much, more than I ever have. And hopefully the feeling’s mutual. We worked things out – if both people want to work something out and make it better, you can do it. You can’t do it if it’s just one person.” Michael and Catherine married in the year 2000, which is the same year that Michael’s divorce from ex-wife Diandra Luker was finalized. Diandra is a film producer and she was married to Michael from 1977 to 2000.
2. She Died of Cancer
Diana Douglas was born on January 22, 1923 and she died at the age of 92 years. The cause of death was cancer, though the type of cancer was not reported. Previously, she survived breast cancer. When Diana died, she passed away at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.
When Michael Douglas announced his mother died, he delivered the news via Facebook, according to People, writing, “She died peacefully of cancer after having been a patient in palliative care since early June. I will love and miss her forever.” In an interview with People, at the time, Douglas said that he was raised by his mother in Bermuda and that he was taking her ashes there.
About a week after losing his mother to cancer, Michael told Us Weekly that, “She was a lost generation in terms of — she was a class act. A real lady. A wicked sense of humor. Very bright. Just all around she was a wonderful lady … She taught me more about giving it your best shot. Maintaining decorum.”
3. Diana Douglas Was Married 3 Times
Kirk Douglas was Diana’s first husband. Telegraph reported that the two met when they were both students at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. But, it was when Kirk saw Diana on the cover of Life Magazine that she really caught his attention.
After divorcing Kirk Douglas, Diana married Broadway producer and writer Bill Darrid, who died in 1992, as reported by the New York Times. Bill first started out in the industry as an actor.
Diana married her third husband in 2002 and his name was Donald Webster. He was a US Treasury chief of staff under President Nixon and the two met at a part in Washington in 1999. Diana remained married to Webster up until her death. According to Telegraph, Donald and Diana were married in Bermuda.
4. Divorce & Co-Parenting With Kirk Douglas’ Second Wife Was Civil
According to Diana, The Hollywood Reporter stated that in 2011, Diana said her children with Kirk were a big reason that she and his second wife got along well. Diana said, “I know Michael has said since being an adult that he was always very grateful that we never did badmouth each other. Sometimes we probably wanted to. And also, I think that after [Kirk] got married to Anne, [she] made it very much easier, because she and I cooperated very much in terms of bedtimes and what they could watch on television and that kind of thing.”
Diana also said that Kirk’s humor often helped situations, explaining that, “I’ve always enjoyed Kirk’s sense of humor, even when I was angriest at him. He could always make me laugh, somehow, which annoyed the hell out of me. But then I think we both decided too, when the time of divorce came, that we had to maintain a certain amount of civility because of the children.” Kirk and Diana even worked together during his second marriage.
In Kirk’s book, “Let’s Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving, and Learning”, he wrote that, “After Joel was born [in 1947], she and I realized that we were not right for each other, and we divorced amicably. The book was published in 2007.
5. She Appeared In Over 50 Films as an Actress
Before retiring from her career in 2008, Diana starred in over 50 films over the years and also carried on a career modeling. The Hollywood Reporter said that her film debut was in George Cukor’s Keeper of the Flame in 1942, which starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.
Diana also worked with ex-husband Kirk, appearing in The Indian Fighter in 1955, which was the first film made by Kirk Douglas’s own production company. Her final film was also with Kirk. In 2003, she was in It Runs in the Family with Kirk, her son Michael and her grandson, Cameron. Her very last acting performance was in 2008, as the character Bertha Mendenhall on the formerly long-running medical drama, ER, according to IMDb.
Diana Douglas came from a prominent family in Bermuda. Her father was actually the Attorney General there, as well as Commanding Officer of the Bermuda Militia Artillery. Her brother was a prominent lawyer and her sister married John Seward Johnson I, the heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, according to Daily Mail.
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