Shattered by the devastating stroke that rendered him unable to walk or speak, a depressed KIRK DOUGLAS shoved a gun in his mouth determined to blast his head to smithereens!
Thinking his life was over and not wanting to waste away like his friend and “Gunfght at the O.K. Corral” co-star Burt Lancaster, who’d also had a stroke, the once-macho “Spartacus” stud was a split-second away from pulling the trigger and blowing his brains out.
But the long barrel of the pistol “bumped up against my teeth – ‘Ow!’” Douglas recalls.
“It sent shivers through my teeth and I pulled the gun out. A toothache delayed my death. I laughed hysterically.”
Douglas felt like a broken man after he was felled by the stroke on Jan. 24, 1996.
While getting a manicure at home following back surgery, he suddenly felt “as if a pointed object had drawn a line from my temple, made a half-circle on my cheek and stopped,” he says. “I felt no pain, but I couldn’t talk. What came out was gibberish.”
In a flash, he went from being a spry 79-year-old to a helpless invalid. “It’s a tragedy for an actor if he can’t talk, and when you have a stroke and start to babble and can’t form words, depression sets in,” Douglas explains.
“You just want to go to bed, pull down the shades, cry and remove yourself.
“I contemplated suicide. I found the gun I used in “Gunfght at the O.K. Corral”, loaded it with two bullets and looked at it. In my mouth or at the temple? I stuck the long barrel of the pistol in my mouth.”
That’s when fate intervened with a shooting pain in his teeth and Douglas decided to go on living.
Today, at age 97, he’s glad he did.
“Each of these 18 post-stroke years has brought its own blessings and pleasures,” he reveals. “I am thankful I didn’t give up.”
Since his ordeal, the living legend has learned to talk and walk again — adding seven credits to his acting resume, penned four books and performed his own one-man stage show, “Before I Forget”.
“Kirk is grateful every day he didn’t commit suicide following his stroke,” confides a close friend.
“He’s 97 now and about to celebrate his 60th wedding anniversary with his wife Anne. He realizes he’d have missed out on so much. “Surviving the stroke and going on with his life has empowered him. It’s made him stronger than he ever thought possible. The fact he’s inspired so many other stroke victims all over the world is something he’s very proud of.
“Kirk’s always been tough. But battling back from the brink is his greatest accomplishment.”