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Birth name Melvyn Edouard HesselbergNationality USABirth 5 april 1901
at Macon (USA
)Death 4 august 1981
(at 80 years) at New York City (USA
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg (April 5, 1901 – August 4, 1981), better known as Melvyn Douglas, was an American actor.
Douglas came to prominence in the 1930s as a suave leading man, perhaps best typified by his performance in the 1939 romantic comedy Ninotchka with Greta Garbo. Douglas later took mature and fatherly roles as in his Academy Award-winning performances in Hud (1963) and Being There (1979) and his Academy Award-nominated performance in I Never Sang for My Father (1970).
Douglas was married briefly to artist Rosalind Hightower, and they had one child, (Melvyn) Gregory Hesselberg, in 1926. Hesselberg, an artist, is the father of actress Illeana Douglas.
In 1931, Douglas married actress-turned-politician Helen Gahagan. They traveled to Europe that same year, and "were horrified by French and German anti-Semitism". As a result, they became outspoken anti-Fascists, supporting the Democratic Party and Roosevelt's re-election. As a three-term Congresswoman, she was later Richard Nixon's opponent for the United States Senate seat from California in 1950.
Nixon accused Gahagan of being soft on Communism because of her opposition to the House Un-American Activities Committee. Nixon went so far as to call her "pink right down to her underwear". It was Gahagan who popularized Nixon's epithet "Tricky Dick".
Douglas and Gahagan had two children: Peter Gahagan Douglas (1933) and Mary Helen Douglas (1938). The couple remained married until Helen Gahagan Douglas' death in 1980 from cancer. Melvyn Douglas died a year later, in 1981, aged 80, from pneumonia and cardiac complications in New York City.