A look back at Kirk Douglas' biggest roles

Kirk Douglas, the legendary actor and film pioneer, has died at the age of 103.

Douglas’ son, fellow actor Michael Douglas, shared a tribute to his father on Instagram on Wednesday. In it, he noted that Kirk "was a legend" and he's leaving "a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come."

Douglas garnered his first Oscar nomination in 1949 for his role in Mark Robson’s boxing drama “Champion” and followed that up with two more Oscar bids for his part in “The Bad and the Beautiful” in 1952. His performance in the flick also earned Douglas a Golden Globe award.

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Though Douglas never won an Academy Award in his career, he was presented with an Honorary Oscar in 1996. Douglas was also awarded the AFI Lifetime Achievement prize in 1991, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1994 and the SAG lifetime achievement award in 1999.

Here’s a look at Douglas’ most famous roles.

1. Paths of Glory (1957)

Kirk Douglas in 'Paths of Glory' (1957). 

Kirk Douglas in 'Paths of Glory' (1957).  (United Artists)

Based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb and directed by Stanley Kubrick, “Paths of Glory” saw Douglas as a heroic Colonel in the French Army in WWI who put his foot down in refusing to follow through with a suicide mission much to the chagrin of his generals. Filmed in Germany, the antiwar flick tackled the psychological struggle and brutality of war.

2. Spartacus (1960)

While “Paths of Glory” marked Douglas’ first-ever foray into working with Kubrick, “Spartacus,” also based on a novel by Howard Fast, features Douglas in his most recognized role as a rebellious slave who leads an uprising against the Roman Republic. Though Douglas starred in and co-produced the film, he made sure to credit blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Peter Ustinov would win the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in the film.

3. Champion (1949)

Kirk Douglas and Arthur Kennedy in 'Champion' (1949).

Kirk Douglas and Arthur Kennedy in 'Champion' (1949). (United Artists)

Mark Robson’s “Champion” was the film that landed Douglas his first-ever Oscar nomination. The intense boxing drama sees Douglas as Midge Kelly – a poverty-stricken kid with a penchant for punching who fights and claws his way to the top. Fans can credit “Champion” for ushering in a completely unique and refreshing style of filmmaking that helped in steering films such as “Rocky” and “Raging Bull.”

4. Seven Days in May (1964)

Helmed by John Frankenheimer and shaped by Douglas’ own production arm, Joel Productions, “Seven Days in May” is a stout political thriller. Acting opposite Burt Lancaster, Douglas’ character, Colonel “Jiggs” Casey is tasked with stymying a coup by Lancaster’s character, General James Scott, to overthrow the President of the United States.

5. Lust for Life (1956)

Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn in 'Lust for Life' (1956).

Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn in 'Lust for Life' (1956). (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Channeling his inner Vincent Van Gogh for the part, Douglas proved himself to be more than a well-rounded performer in the film based on the biography from Irving Stone about the tragic life of the talented artist. Douglas worked with a familiar collaborator in Vincente Minnelli, who also directed “The Bold and the Beautiful” some four years prior, and brilliantly showcased his ability to encompass the troubled painter. For his role, Douglas would take home a coveted Golden Globe, however, he would lose out on the Oscar to Yul Brynner for “The King and I.”

6. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre in '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1954).

Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre in '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1954). (Walt Disney Productions)

The Disney-backed live-action adaptation of Jules Verne’s science-fiction novel served as an opportunity for Douglas to experiment with a different type of role and step away from his comfort zone as a hardened performer and introduces a cheekier Douglas. The morality-laden film sees the legend as Ned Land, a sailor thrust into service aboard a vessel searching for an elusive sea creature. When the “monster” makes a surprise appearance, the crew are thrown overboard and said monster is discovered to be a revolutionary and ultramodern submarine helmed by the mysterious Captain Nemo, played by James Mason.

7. The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner in 'The Bad and The Beautiful' (1952). 

Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner in 'The Bad and The Beautiful' (1952).  (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Famous for stirring up controversy at the time for its portrayal of a merciless Hollywood movie producer, the Vincente Minnelli-directed melodrama is revered as one of the best films ever made. Lana Turner stars as actress Georgia Lorrison in the flick and Douglas adapts the string-pulling and aspiring Jonathan Shields, Hollywood producer. “The Bad and the Beautiful” stung the egos of many industry bigshots during its time and it currently reigns as the film with the most Oscar wins without a nomination for best picture – holding a respectable 5 wins.

8. Ace in the Hole (1951)

Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling in 'Ace in The Hole' (1951). 

Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling in 'Ace in The Hole' (1951).  (Paramount Pictures)

Another film that likely struck a chord with media members at the time of its debut, “Ace in the Hole,” saw Douglas in one of his most vulnerable roles as the callous, binge-drinking reporter Chuck Tatum who had been all but dismissed from every large publication in the industry before landing at a small-town newspaper in Albuquerque, N.M. When a man finds himself trapped in a mine, Tatum relishes at the opportunity in front of him to land his next big story and Tatum soon finds out at what cost. The Billy Wilder media flick would mark the first time Wilder wrote, directed and produced his own project from the ground up. The film would also receive an Oscar nomination for its writing.

Check out these other impressive films starring the revered Kirk Douglas, many of which the late icon had a hand in producing:

“The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” 1946

“Mourning Becomes Electra,” 1947

“Out of the Past,” 1947

“I Walk Alone,” 1948

“The Walls of Jerico,” 1948

“My Dear Secretary,” 1948

“A Letter to Three Wives,” 1949

“Young Man With a Horn,” 1950

“The Glass Menagerie,” 1950

“Along the Great Divide,” 1951

“The Big Carnival” (or “Ace in the Hole,”) 1951

“Detective Story,” 1951

“The Big Trees,” 1952

“The Big Sky,” 1952

“The Story of Three Loves,” 1953

“The Juggler,” 1953

“Act of Love,” 1954

“The Racers,” 1955

“Man Without a Star,” 1955

“The Indian Fighter,” 1955

“Top Secret Affair,” 1957

“Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall,” 1957

“The Vikings,” 1958

“Last Train From Gun Hill,” 1959

“The Devil's Disciple,” 1959

“Strangers When We Meet,” 1960

“The Last Sunset,” 1961

“Town Without Pity,” 1961

“Lonely Are the Brave,” 1962

“Two Weeks in Another Town,” 1962

“The Hook,” 1963

“The List of Adrian Messenger,” 1963

“For Love or Money,” 1963

“In Harm's Way,” 1965

“The Heroes of Telemark,” 1965

“Cast a Giant Shadow,” 1966

“Is Paris Burning?” 1966

“The Way West,” 1967

“The War Wagon,” 1967

“A Lovely Way to Die,” 1968

“The Brotherhood,” 1968

“The Arrangement,” 1969

“There Was A Crooked Man,” 1970

“Summertree,” 1971 (producer only)

“The Light at the Edge of the World,” 1971

“A Gunfight,” 1971

“Catch Me a Spy,” 1971

“Hearts and Minds,” 1972

“Scalawag,” 1973

“Once Is Not Enough,” 1975

“Posse,” 1975

“Holocaust 2000,” 1977

“Victory at Entebbe,” 1977 (TV movie)

“The Fury,” 1978

“The Villain,” 1978

“Saturn 3,” 1979

“The Final Countdown,” 1980

“The Man From Snowy River,” 1982

“Remembrance of Love,” 1982 (TV movie)

“Eddie Macon's Run,” 1983

“Amos,” 1985 (TV movie)

“Tough Guys,” 1986

“Queenie,” 1987 (TV movie)

“Inherit the Wind,” 1988 (TV movie)

“Oscar,” 1991

“Welcome to Veraz,” 1992

“The Secret,” 1992 (TV movie)

“Greedy,” 1994

“Take Me Home Again,” 1994 (TV movie)

“Diamonds,” 1999 “It Runs in the Family,” 2003

The Associated Press contributed to this report.