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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: When Kirk Douglas’ foundation donated playground equipment to hundreds of L.A. schools

Kirk Douglas
Kirk and Anne Douglas at their Beverly Hills home in 2002.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Watching Kirk Douglas sliding down the playground equipment that he and his wife Anne donated to Los Angeles Unified School District campuses years ago was a delight. He smiled and connected to the kids in a magical way. (“Kirk Douglas dead at 103; ‘Spartacus’ star helped end Hollywood blacklist,” Feb. 5)

His foundation funded hundreds of playground and gym equipment donations that communities across the 26 cities of LAUSD cherish. When I was a Board of Education member, the foundation asked me to designate the site of the final donation; I selected Lillian Street Elementary, a school in unincorporated South Los Angeles rather than the city, where nobody cared except the dedicated staff there.

But Kirk and Anne Douglas cared, and along with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others in the community, they celebrated the school’s new playground in 2008.

David Tokofsky, Los Angeles

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The writer is a former member of the LAUSD Board of Education.

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To the editor: That magical movie era of Douglas and other great actors like William Holden, Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda and so many others has come and gone. Douglas was the last of the bigger-than-life actors; his long list of diverse and interesting characters established him as one of the most authentic kinds of actor who challenged himself with intensity and determination with each role he played.

Living in Los Angeles all my life, seeing actors isn’t really unusual, but you never forget the greats. Many years ago, while preparing for my wedding, I was walking in Beverly Hills with my mother and, big as life, Douglas was there walking down the street too. He was fit and strong and wearing a turtleneck sweater and had complete confidence in every step.

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We smiled at him and he smiled back. Seeing him was a thrill I will always remember — he really was bigger than life.

He was one of a kind, an accomplished actor and dedicated philanthropist who left us treasures for the ages.

Frances Terrell Lippman, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: I was 11 years old when I first saw Douglas in “Champion.” The performance was riveting, and I saw it multiple times, becoming a lifelong fan.

While in the Army in 1962, having been activated for the Berlin crisis, I was inspired and helped through those difficult days by Douglas’ portrayal of Jack Burns in “Lonely Are the Brave.” In 1963, I saw him on stage in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in New Haven, Conn.

Small wonder that as a consummate artist he played so many men of courage and conviction, for that’s who he was in real life.

Alan Kishbaugh, Los Angeles


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