Diana Douglas

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Diana Douglas
Born Diana Love Dill
(1923-01-22)January 22, 1923
Devonshire, Bermuda
Died July 3, 2015(2015-07-03) (aged 92)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Nationality British-American
Occupation Actress
Years active 1942–2008
Spouse(s) Kirk Douglas (1943–51; divorced)
Bill Darrid (1956–92; his death)
Donald Webster (2002–15; her death)
Children Michael (b. 1944)
Joel (b. 1947)
Parent(s) Thomas Melville Dill (1876-1945)
Ruth Rapalje (neé Neilson) (1880-1973)

Diana Love Webster (née Dill; formerly Douglas and Darrid; January 22, 1923 – July 3, 2015) was a Bermudian-born American actress. She was known for her marriage to actor Kirk Douglas, from 1943 until their divorce in 1951. She was the mother of Michael and Joel Douglas.

In 1942, Douglas began her career as an actress and appeared in more than 50 films. Some of her well-known roles were as Susan Rogers in The Indian Fighter (co-starring Kirk Douglas) and as Peg in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. She was also known for her recurring role as Martha Evans in Days of Our Lives (1977–1979, 1982). In 2003, she appeared in It Runs in the Family with her ex-husband Kirk and son Michael. She retired from acting in 2008.

Early life[edit]

She was born in Devonshire, Bermuda on January 22, 1923.[1] Her father, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Melville Dill (also the name of her great-grandfather, a mariner),[2] was a former Member of the Colonial Parliament (MCP) (representing the Parish of Devonshire in the Parliament of Bermuda), Attorney General of Bermuda, and former Commanding Officer of the Bermuda Militia Artillery. Her mother Ruth Rapalje (née Neilson) had roots in New Jersey. Douglas' brother Bayard was a prominent lawyer and politician. Her sister Ruth was married to John Seward Johnson I, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune.[3] Douglas' father was from a prominent Bermudian family, present on the island since the early 17th century.

Her ancestry included English, Irish, Welsh, Dutch, Scottish, Belgian, and French.[4] Douglas was brought up in the Church of England.[5]


In 1942, she began her career in a minor, uncredited role in Keeper of the Flame.[6] She went on to appear in many films during the 1950s and 1960s, one of her most notable roles arguably being Susan Rogers in The Indian Fighter. During the 1960s and 1970s, she appeared in a variety of television programs (such as the General Electric Theater and Naked City), her best known television role being Lily Chernak Donnelly on Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.

She played Poco on Three Steps to Heaven and Martha Evans in Days of Our Lives. Following the cancellation of Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, she played Annie Andersen in The Cowboys. She appeared in Roots: The Next Generations and The Waltons. In It Runs in the Family, Douglas appeared with her former husband, Kirk Douglas, son Michael and grandson Cameron, and later appeared on an episode of CBS's Cold Case and in the Season 15 ER episode "Heal Thyself" (2008), the year that she retired from acting.

In 1999, her autobiography, In the Wings: A Memoir, was published.[7][8][9]

Personal life[edit]

Dill was married to Kirk Douglas.[10] During the war, Douglas was serving in the U.S. Navy when he saw the May 3, 1943, issue of Life magazine, which featured a photograph of Dill on the cover.[11] He showed the cover to his shipmates and said that he would marry her.[12] The two were married on November 2, 1943. They had two sons, Michael and Joel, before divorcing in 1951.[13]

She married actor Bill Darrid, and the couple lived with her sons on the East Coast of the United States until his death in 1992. In 2002 Douglas married Donald Webster in the old Devonshire Parish Church in Bermuda.[14][15][16]


On July 3, 2015, Douglas, a breast cancer survivor, died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles of an undisclosed form of cancer at the age of 92.[6][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

Family tree[edit]




  1. ^ Zumberge, Marianne (July 4, 2015). "Diana Douglas Webster, mother of Michael Douglas, ex-wife of Kirk Douglas, dies at 92". Boston Herald. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Actress Diana Dill from Bermuda". Bernews. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Conover, David Kipp, ed. "Ancestors of Michael Kirk Douglas". ConoverGenealogy.com. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  4. ^ Douglas 1999, p. 17.
  5. ^ Galloway, Stephen (2010-11-29). "Michael Douglas: One Hell of a Year". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  6. ^ a b Barnes, Mike (July 4, 2015). "Actress Diana Douglas, Mother of Michael and Ex-Wife of Kirk, Dies at 92". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 4, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "In the Wings: A Memoir". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: In the Wings". People. September 6, 1999. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Film Was Family Affair For Diana Douglas". Bernews. March 1, 2011. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Film Was Family Affair For Diana Douglas". Bernews. March 1, 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "Front Cover". Life (Time Inc): 1. 3 May 1943. ISSN 0024-3019. 
  12. ^ "Bermudian actress Diana Douglas back in Life". The Royal Gazette. May 13, 1993. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Diana Douglas Given Final Divorce Decree". Toledo Blade (Toledo, Ohio). February 24, 1951. p. 2. Retrieved 31 October 2015 – via Google News Archive. 
  14. ^ "Michael Douglas' Mum Weds at 79". Hello. December 30, 2002. Retrieved July 25, 2015. 
  15. ^ Breen, Stephen (December 30, 2002). "Rain fails to dampen Dill Douglas Darrid wedding celebration". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  16. ^ Breen, Stephen (December 27, 2002). "Diana's wedding gift to Bermuda". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  17. ^ Zumberge, Marianne (July 4, 2015). "Diana Douglas Webster, Mother of Michael Douglas, Ex-Wife of Kirk Douglas, Dies at 92". Variety. Archived from the original on July 4, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Diana Douglas, actress - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 5 July 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  19. ^ Kenneally, Tim (4 July 2015). "Diana Douglas, Mother of Michael and Ex-Wife of Kirk, Dead at 92". TheWrap. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  20. ^ Associated Press (5 July 2015). "Diana Douglas, Actress and First Wife of Kirk Douglas, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  21. ^ Colker, David (4 July 2015). "Diana Douglas dies at 92; actress, mother of Michael Douglas". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  22. ^ Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (5 July 2015). "Diana Douglas dead: Actress and mother of Michael Douglas dies age 92". The Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  23. ^ Lowe, Kinsey (4 July 2015). "Diana Douglas Dies: Actress, 92, Was Kirk Douglas’ First Wife And Mother of Michael And Joel Douglas". Deadline.com. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  24. ^ "US actress Diana Douglas dies aged 92". BBC. 5 July 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 

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