Q: Has actor Kirk Douglas died? If so, when?
D.F., of Freeburg
A: Like actress Olivia de Havilland, Kirk Douglas is still perking along at 101 despite a near-fatal helicopter crash in 1991 and a nasty medical scare 20 years ago.
On Jan. 28, 1996, the actor with the instantly recognizable cleft chin suffered a severe stroke, limiting his ability to speak. Doctors feared that unless there was immediate improvement, he might lose the ability to talk.
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But after several months of daily therapy, his ability to converse — with limitations — returned. Already in March, Douglas was able to thank the audience for an honorary Oscar that celebrated his half-century in movies. By 2011, he was cracking jokes at the 83rd Oscars, complimenting Anne Hathaway’s beauty by asking, “Where were you when I was making pictures?” He even wrote a book about the experience, “My Stroke of Luck.” Actress Anne Buydens, his second wife of 63 years and soon to turn 99 herself, is still living as well.
His 1996 Oscar appearance can be seen on You Tube. You can find a list of living centenarians in the entertainment business on Wikipedia.
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Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: The first use of an ambulance in emergencies may have come under the reign of Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1487 when injured Spanish soldiers were taken to military hospitals known then as ambulancias.