CANTON — St. Lawrence University alumnus and film icon Kirk Douglas announced Sunday that he and his wife, Anne, will give $5 million to the university scholarship he began in 1999.
Given through the Douglas Foundation, the donation will make the Kirk Douglas Scholarship fund the most endowed scholarship on the campus.
“We deeply appreciate their dedication and generosity to the university and the opportunity their scholarship is providing for so many students,” said St. Lawrence President William L. Fox.
Since the scholarship started in 1999, Mr. Douglas has contributed close to $7.5 million. Previously, the scholarship has been awarded to minority juniors and seniors who demonstrate excellence in academics and leadership and show a financial need. Through the gift, the university will extend the scholarship's availability to sophomores and freshmen.
“Anne and I are of one mind in our philosophical approach to philanthropy,” Mr. Douglas said in a released statement. “We believe caring is sharing.”
The $5 million is only a small portion of the money the Douglas Foundation has given away this week. Through the foundation, Mr. Douglas has pledged $50 million to five nonprofit organizations, including the Motion Picture and Television Fund's retirement home in Woodland Hills, Calif.; the Anne Douglas Center for Women in Los Angeles; the Center Theater Group's Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver, Calif.; and the Sinai Temple in Westwood, Calif.
The American Film Institute has named Mr. Douglas one of the 50 greatest screen legends. He has 85 movie credits. In his first role in the 1946 film, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” Mr. Douglas played Walter O'Neil. He went on to star in such screen hits as “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Spartacus” and “Lonely Are the Brave.”
A native of Amsterdam, N.Y., he graduated from SLU in 1939 as an English major. The university awarded him an honorary degree in 1958. Mr. and Mrs. Douglas started the Douglas Foundation in 1964 to promote health and educational programs.