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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Paige Holland

Remarkable way Kirk Douglas quit smoking with just one cigarette - and dad did the same

As the world remembers the legend that was Kirk Douglas, who died yesterday aged 103, many fans have been retelling incredible stories about him.

One of the tales people have been sharing is about the cigarette the actor and director carried in his shirt pocket every single day - even though he had quit smoking.

Talking to The New York Times Kirk spoke of his father - Herschel Danielovitch - and his impressive tactic to effectively give up smoking.

Herschel was told by his doctor that he would develop cancer if he didn't stop, so one day he did just that.

Kirk said: "He always carried one cigarette in the breast pocket of his shirt. When he felt the urge to smoke, he'd take the cigarette out and look at it fiercely.

Kirk told The New York Times: "Hollywood started me smoking, literally putting a cigarette in my hand" (Allstar/PARAMOUNT PICTURES)

"With a growl, he would say, in his Russian accent, ''Who's stronger? You -- me?'

"He would glare at the cigarette: ''I stronger.'' And he'd put the cigarette back in his pocket."

Herschel died of cancer aged 72.

Despite being in the Navy during WW2 and being a budding actor in Hollywood, Kirk never smoked.

He was signed to his very first movie in 1946, 'The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers" and understandably he was "intimidated, but very excited" to start reading lines.

But when the director asked him to smoke a cigarette in his first scene, he told him he didn't smoke - and actually didn't know how.

Kirk with his daughter-in-law Catharine (UGC)

The director Lewis Milestone showed him the ropes and the rest was history.

Soon enough Kirk was smoking two to three packs a day.

He said it was just the norm that actors smoked, it "was the favourite movie prop" because many actors had trouble with their hands.

"Should they put them in their pockets? Should they put them behind their back? Do they have them at their sides? The cigarette answered the question."

After the fame hit, tobacco companies were supplying him cigarettes every month.

Kirk said cigarettes were actors favourite props because they usually had trouble with their hands (Mirrorpix)

But one day as he sat, cigarette in hand, he noticed a photo of his dad on his desk staring back at him.

And in this moment, in his dads words he said: "'Who's stronger? You -- me?

''I stronger.

"I put the cigarette in my shirt pocket and never smoked again."

His son Michael Douglas took post a tribute to Instagram saying: "It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103.

Kirk with his son Michael and grandson Cameron (REUTERS)

"To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to."

"Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad - I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son", he added.

His daughter-in-law and actress, Catherine Zeta Jones also posted her own heartfelt tribute: "To my darling Kirk, I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already. Sleep tight..."

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