Despite a shaky start, the two allowed each other ample amount of space which in turn helped their love bloom and last an eternity.
Amidst several broken marriages in Hollywood emerges the strong and unconventional couple Kirk Douglas and Anne Buydens whose love has stood the test of time. The brilliant understanding that the two shared during their 65 years of being married is something that cannot be easily overlooked. The duo embarked upon a sweet journey of togetherness after tying the knot on May 29, 1954. Similar to other couples, they too were faced with many difficult challenges, however, they managed to survive the odds due to the existence of honesty in their relationship reports PEOPLE.
Of course, the movie-like way they fell in love set a great reminder for the two to hold on to each other. According to the LA Times, the two first met in 1953. After Kirk laid eyes on the beautiful Buydens during the filming of Act of Love he was determined to sweep her off her feet. "I thought, I’ll take this young beauty to dinner at the most romantic (and expensive) restaurant," wrote Kirk in an article for the outlet. Confident about his charm he thought, "She’s sure to approve of my taste and ability to get a last-minute reservation." However, Buydens responded, "No, I think I’ll stay in and have some scrambled eggs."
After this Kirk realized that, "she was not interested in a frivolous affair." Continuing his understanding of Buydens he wrote in Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood: "This self-possessed beauty was very different from the women I had been involved with in Hollywood since [ex-wife] Diana left me...Anne was a sophisticated woman, unlike my virginal Pier Angeli, who took her mother on all our dates." With time, Anne finally opened up about her flight from Germany and how this past traumatized her immensely. Slowly, this led to the professional relationship turned into a romantic one. But he never let her forget that he was engaged to someone else. "I cannot believe how insensitive I was," wrote Kirk.
As per PEOPLE, Anne was married to "a Belgian friend [she'd married] during World War II for safety reasons," and Kirk, on the other hand, was "secretly engaged" to Pier Angeli. They "courted" each other in Italy and France and once Kirk returned to the U.S. he invited her over. Having spent a wonderful time together, Anne was all set to get back to Paris. That's when the legendary actor realized he could not live with her. "I'm not proud that it took me until then to realize how much I didn't want to lose her, and I'm not proud that I put so little thought into our wedding."
One Saturday afternoon, he picked Anne up on his way back from the set and traveled to Las Vegas along with his lawyer and publicist. Describing the hasty wedding he wrote: "Anne and I joined our lives before a hastily summoned justice of the peace. I was eager to get the vows over with so I could take everyone to my pal Frank Sinatra's show at the Desert Inn." The A-list actor has been quite open about his affairs in the past and surprisingly his wife accepted it by turning a blind eye to the reality reports PEOPLE. He confessed not knowing why his wife stuck with him all these years as he had "a lot of anger matched by a lot of arrogance." Answering his own question he said, "I think, simply because I had such a wonderful wife."
The 100-year-old was very understanding of the prevalent "European" culture and did not expect her husband to be faithful throughout their lives. In Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter and a Lifetime in Hollywood, Anne wrote, "Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me." Furthermore, she added, "As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in marriage." The "European" space that Anne provided her husband, allowed their romance to bloom further. Despite a rocky start, Kirk was able to understand the value his wife held later on in his life.
Praising his wife patience, Kirk wrote: Anne never tried to change me, but she never hesitated to speak her mind — usually gently and often with great humor and subtlety. But she did change me and very much for the better. The couple shared several letters in the course of their marriage and in one of them, Kirk expressed that he wanted to have a happy and successful marriage. After the birth of their first son together, Peter, Kirk wrote to his wife: Always remember darling, I need you...for you, I hope to do wonderful things in life. This is it—you and me and our family forever!
Back in 1958, he wrote to his better half, "If I live to be 100, there will still be so many things unsaid," as per New York Jewish Week. He followed up this note on December 9, 2016, when he turned 100. Kirk wrote: "I have now reached that milestone, I can attest that it is still true." Sharing her experience, Anne who turned 100 this April said, "After 60 years of marriage, you go through a lot of obstacles — and all of them are beautiful." To this Kirk, 102, quickly added, "I just told my wife, ‘If you ever leave me, I’m going with you!"