The Premonition That Saved Kirk Douglas' Life

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Listening to your gut can be a tricky thing. Is it telling you that imminent danger is ahead or that you simply ate some bad fish? Some people know when to trust their intuition, while others ignore it all together. Luckily for Kirk Douglas, when his wife Anne Buydens had a bad feeling about an upcoming trip, her instincts ended up saving his life.

Kirk Douglas, who died in 2020 at the age 103 (via People), was a prolific actor known for playing characters with an unnerving amount of conviction. During his illustrious career, Douglas added over 92 acting credits to his name and received multiple Academy Award nominations, along with an honorary Oscar for "50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community." Needless to say, the man was a Hollywood treasure. But in March of 1958, only 10 years into his 60-plus-year acting career, Douglas nearly made a decision that would've ended his life.

Anne Buydens had a bad feeling

According to Biography, on the morning of March 22, 1958, Kirk Douglas' close friend, producer Mike Todd, invited the actor over for their regular game of tennis. Douglas and Todd lived across from one another in Palm Springs, California and would often meet up to spend time together. Todd was coming off a spectacular year where he not only won an Academy Award for his film "Around The World in 80 Days," but he'd also married the love of his life, "Cleopatra" star, Elizabeth Taylor.

Todd was known for doing flashy, extravagant things for his 20-something wife, including buying her mounds of expensive jewelry, impromptu flights to Paris, and even naming his plane in her honor, "The Liz." Speaking of "The Liz," Todd was planning on taking his private plane to New York the evening of his tennis game with Douglas. Elizabeth Taylor wasn't feeling well due to a cold, so Todd decided to invite Kirk Douglas along for the ride.

"Mike asked me to go on his private plane with him, and we were going to stop and see Harry Truman and then go on to New York," Kirk Douglas, an avid fan of former President Truman, told People in 2015. "I was very excited." But Douglas' wife Anne, who was six months pregnant with their child Eric was not so enthused. A bad feeling came over her and she asked her husband not to get on that plane.

Kirk Douglas goes to bed angry

Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne, recount the harrowing tale in a book titled, "Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood." Anne writes, "I don't know what came over me, but I had a strange feeling. 'Absolutely not, Kirk. I don't want you on that plane. You can fly commercial and meet him there.'" 

According to Douglas, he was livid — feeling like his wife was worrying about nothing. What ensued was a long, and heated argument, in only the way a married couple can argue. Douglas, so frustrated with his wife, decided to skip the trip altogether, instead, focusing on going to bed angry. "[He] stomped off to bed without kissing me goodnight," Anne wrote.

The next morning, still sore about the argument, Kirk and Anne refused to talk to each other according to People, so they turned on the radio as a way to fill the angry silence. It's then that they heard the tragic news come over the airwaves, Mike Todd's plane "The Liz" had crashed shortly after takeoff. There were no survivors.

'Darling, you saved my life'

"Spartacus" star Kirk Douglas was driving with his wife Anne when he found out his close friend had died while in a plane that Douglas was supposed to be on. According to Biography, the news hit Douglas so hard, he was unable to drive.

In the book co-written with his wife, Douglas describes the exact moment they found out about the crash, "I pulled onto the shoulder of the road immediately. Shakily, I got out of the car. Anne joined me. We stood, wrapped together in a strong embrace, tears streaming down our faces. Finally, I said, 'Darling, you saved my life. I will always trust your intuition from now on.'"

If it weren't for Elizabeth Taylor's cold and Anne Douglas' intuition, Hollywood would've had a tragic rewrite that fateful day in March. However, the loss of Mike Todd and the three others who were on the plane with him sent shockwaves through the inner circles of the entertainment industry. As a producer, Todd belonged to the insular group of Hollywood filmmakers working behind the scenes — often overlooked, but nonetheless, crucial to the cultural fabric of Hollywood.