Actor Kirk Douglas dies, a great support for people with Alzheimer's
Fundació ACE join the condolences to the family of the well-known actor Kirk Douglas, who has died at the age of 103. From Fundació ACE we want to remark what is perhaps the least known part of his legacy: the personal and economic support he gave to people with Alzheimer's and their families.
Kirk Douglas was known for his iconic roles on the big screen, but behind the scenes he played an important role in supporting one of Hollywood's oldest charities: the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
Douglas and his wife Anne were among the biggest individual contributors to MPTF in its history, giving more than $40 million to the nonprofit organization charged with providing healthcare and other services to entertainment industry workers. In 2015, the couple gave $15 million to build the Kirk and Anne Douglas Care Pavilion, a 50-bed memory-care unit that will open in the near future. They previously donated $20 million for general purposes and $2 million for Harry’s Haven, a residential home for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia that was created in 1992.
According to MPTF President Bob Beitcher, Douglas’ connection to Alzheimer’s disease dates back to the time he and Anne were living in New York City. One of their neighbours was Abe Ribicoff, former governor of Connecticut and a former U.S. senator. Ribicoff was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his wife refused to put him in an institution.
Douglas decided he wanted to create an Alzheimer’s unit that was a “wonderful, caring, compassionate place where the person afflicted could live, but also where a family member would feel comfortable leaving their family member to live”, Beitcher said. Until he became too weakened a few years ago, Douglas used to visit MPTF and Harry’s Haven once or twice a year.