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 The 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.[1] 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.[3] Douglas was brought up in the Church of England.[4]


In 1942, she began her career in a minor, uncredited role in Keeper of the Flame.[5] 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.[6]

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.[6]

In 1999, her autobiography, In the Wings: a Memoir, was published.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Dill was married to Kirk Douglas.[8] 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. He showed the cover to his shipmates and said that he would marry her.[9] The two were married on November 2, 1943. They had two sons, Michael and Joel, before divorcing in 1951.[10]

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.[11][12][13]


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.[14][5]

Family tree[edit]


  • 1942 Keeper of the Flame
  • 1947 The Late George Apley
  • 1948 Let's Live Again
  • 1948 The Sign of the Ram
  • 1949 House of Strangers
  • 1949 Photocrime (TV Series)
  • 1950 Masterpiece Playhouse – The Rivals
  • 1950 The Web – Key Witness (TV Episode)
  • 1951 The Whistle at Eaton Falls
  • aka Richer Than the Earth (UK)
  • 1952 Armstrong Circle Theatre – Mr. Bemiss Takes a Trip (TV Episode)
  • 1951 Storm Over Tibet (Elaine March Simms)
  • aka Mask of the Himalayas (USA: alternative title)
  • aka Sturm über Tibet (West Germany)
  • 1953 Monsoon
  • 1953 Studio One – Greed
  • aka Studio One Summer Theatre (summer title)
  • aka Studio One in Hollywood (new title)
  • aka Summer Theatre (summer title)
  • aka Westinghouse Studio One
  • aka Westinghouse Summer Theatre (summer title) (TV Episode)
  • 1953 Medallion Theatre – The Decision at Arrowsmith (TV Episode)
  • 1953 Three Steps to Heaven Mary Claire 'Pogo' Thurmond Morgan #2
  • 1953 Willys Theatre Presenting Ben Hecht's Tales of the City
  • – Episode 1.6 (TV Episode)
  • 1955 General Electric Theater – The Seeds of Hate
  • aka G.E. Theater (USA: informal short title) (TV Episode) Nora
  • 1955 The Indian Fighter Actor [Starring] Susan Rogers
  • 1956 Medic
  • - Reach of the Giant: Part 2 (TV Episode) Edith Martin
  • - Reach of the Giant: Part 1 (TV Episode) Edith Martin
  • 1956 Science Fiction Theatre
  • - Brain Unlimited (TV Episode) Elaine Conover
  • - End of Tomorrow (TV Episode)Jane Brandon
  • 1956 West Point
  • aka The West Point Story
  • - Officer's Wife (TV Episode)
  • 1953 Robert Montgomery Presents
  • - Element of Risk (TV Episode)
  • aka Lucky Strike Theater
  • aka Montgomery's Summer Stock
  • aka The Robert Montgomery Summer Theater
  • 1956 Robert Montgomery Presents
  • - Goodbye, Grey Flannel (TV Episode)
  • 1959 Naked City
  • - The Scorpion Sting (TV Episode) Meg
  • - Even Crows Sing Good (TV Episode) Hilda
  • 1964 Flipper
  • - The Second Time Around (TV Episode) Mrs. Granville
  • 1965 For the People
  • - The Influence of Fear (TV Episode)
  • 1965 Ben Casey
  • - War of Nerves (TV Episode) Martha English
  • 1967 N.Y.P.D.
  • - The Boy Witness (TV Episode) Mrs. Whitaker
  • 1970 Loving
  • 1967 Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (TV)
  • 1971 Hawkins (TV)
    • Episode A Life for a Life (Clara Guilfoyle)
    • Episode Die Die, Darling (Clara Guilfoyle)
  • 1973 Kung Fu (TV)
    • Episode The Tong (Sister Richardson)
  • 1974 The Streets of San Francisco [TV]
    • Episode Chapel of the Damned
  • 1974 The Cowboys (TV Series) (Mrs. Annie Andersen)
  • 1975 Dead Man on the Run [TV]
  • 1977 Un Autre Homme Une Autre Chance (aka Another Man, Another Chance; aka Another Man, Another Woman
  • 1977 Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid [TV]
  • 1978 A Fire in the Sky [TV]
  • 1979 Roots: The Next Generations
  • 1981 Jaws of Satan (aka King Cobra)
  • 1982 Sister, Sister [TV]
  • 1983 The Star Chamber
  • 1987 Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  • 1987 Beauty and the Beast [TV]
    • Episode 8: Song of Orpheus
  • 1992 A Town Torn Apart [TV] (aka Doc: The Dennis Littky Story)
  • 1992 Cold Heaven
  • 2003 It Runs in the Family


  1. ^ a b Conover, David Kipp, ed. "Ancestors of Michael Kirk Douglas". ConoverGenealogy.com. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ DILL genealogy site, rootsweb.com; accessed July 25, 2015.
  3. ^ In the wings: a memoir, 1999, by Diana Douglas Darrid, p. 17
  4. ^ Galloway, Stephen (2010-11-29). "Michael Douglas: One Hell of a Year". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b Diana Douglas at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Douglas, Diana (1999). In the Wings: A Memoir. Barricade Books. 
  8. ^ Bernews: Film Was Family Affair For Diana Douglas
  9. ^ The Royal Gazette: Bermudian actress Diana Douglas back in Life, Published May 13, 1993 (Updated Feb 9, 2011)
  10. ^ "Bermuda and Hollywood", thebermudian.com, March 1946 (archived).
  11. ^ "Michael Douglas' Mum Weds at 79", hellomagazine.com; accessed July 25, 2015.
  12. ^ "Rain fails to dampen Dill Douglas Darrid wedding celebration", royalgazette.com, December 30, 2002 (updated Feb 4, 2011); accessed July 25, 2015.
  13. ^ "Diana's wedding gift to Bermuda", December 27, 2002 (updated February 4, 2011), royalgazette.com; accessed July 25, 2015.
  14. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]