Letter: Fond memories of Kirk Douglas
To the editor:
The recent death of Kirk Douglas takes me back to a time more than 60 years ago when I was an intern at the Albany Hospital (before it became Medical Center) and I had the responsibility of caring for his mother during her terminal illness. You might be aware that Kirk Douglas's production company is called Bryna Productions and it is named after his mother, Bryna Demsky (she had also changed her last name from Danilovich.)
During that illness, he sat at her bedside for hours each day for a period of about two weeks. He was deeply appreciative of everyone involved in his mother's care and smiled at the student nurses and others who passed by just to get a peek at him. Memorably, in a time before cellphones, he used a payphone near the room that had no door and spoke daily with Charles Laughton, whose booming voice could be easily heard encouraging Kirk to stay at the bedside while saying that, "the movie can wait."
When she finally did die, we made certain to respect her beliefs as an Orthodox Jew with the appropriate rituals, for which he was very grateful. Over the years I have followed his career with fond memories of those days and he has now joined her. He was truly a gentleman when I interacted with him.
Henry Tulgan, M.D.,
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.