Eric Douglas was an American actor and comedian, best known for playing supporting roles in films, such as ‘Tomboy’ and ‘The Golden Child.’ After starting his career as an actor, Douglas focused on being a stand-up comedian during the latter part of his life. Unfortunately, his career was overshadowed by his personal life. He was arrested on several occasions throughout the 1990s for offenses, such as driving under the influence (DUI) and possession of illegal substances. In 1999, he slipped into a coma for eight days after overdosing on ‘Alprazolam’ (Xanax). He passed away on July 6, 2004, due to acute intoxication caused by the combined effects of painkillers, alcohol, and tranquilizers. His mortal remains were buried at ‘Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery’ in Los Angeles, California.
Childhood & Early Life
Eric Douglas was born Eric Anthony Douglas on June 21, 1958, in Los Angeles, California, USA, to Kirk Douglas and Anne Buydens. After studying at ‘Pitzer College’ in Claremont, California, Douglas moved to London to study at the ‘Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’ (RADA). However, he wasn’t a full-time student at ‘RADA’ as he only did a summer course at the prestigious academy.
He joined the ‘London Academy of Dramatic Art’ (LAMDA) where he studied from 1980 to 1981. One of his teachers at ‘LAMDA’ was the famed director Helena Kaut-Howson who directed him in two plays. According to her, Douglas was splendid in both the plays, especially the one in which he played the role of a father.
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Eric Douglas made his film debut at the age of 13 when he played Bud Tenneray alongside his father in the 1971 Lamont Johnson-directed American western film ‘A Gunfight.’ After studying at ‘LAMDA,’ he returned to the United States and played Young Joe Rabin in a television film titled ‘Remembrance of Love.’ His father Kirk Douglas played Joe Rabin in the film.
In 1984, he played Donny in Garry Marshall-directed American comedy film ‘The Flamingo Kid.’ Starring Matt Dillon and Janet Jones, the film went on to become a critical and commercial success. The following year, he was cast to play Ernie Leeds, Jr. in Herb Freed-directed comedy film ‘Tomboy.’
He then played the role of Yellow Dragon in Michael Ritchie-directed fantasy comedy film ‘The Golden Child.’ Despite receiving negative reviews from critics, the film became a box office success, earning more than $79 million in the United States alone.
In 1987, he was cast to play the important role of Johnny Warshetsky in Richard Horian-directed drama film ‘Student Confidential.’ In the same year, he played Rhett Clark in one of the episodes of ‘NBC’ network’s television drama series ‘Highway to Heaven.’ In 1988, he played Lamarr in Jeannot Szwarc-directed thriller film ‘Honor Bound.’
After appearing in a couple of projects, such as ‘Delta Force 3: The Killing Game’ and ‘Tales from the Crypt’ in the early-1990s, Douglas gave up acting to become a stand-up comedian. He turned up to his first show drunk and was booed off stage by the audience. In 1994, he showed up at the ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’ and claimed that he had been promised a slot. However, his claim turned out to be false.
Most of his performances were staged at comedy clubs in New York City. His self-deprecating jokes were about his status as the black sheep of his family. He also performed at ‘The Comedy Store’ in London where he once lost his temper after being provoked by the audience.
Apart from acting and performing stand-up comedy, Eric Douglas has also made guest appearances in television movies and series, such as ‘The American Academy of Dramatic Arts Annual Tribute: A Salute to Kirk Douglas,’ ‘Barry Gibb Love and Hope Festival IV,’ ‘Bas les masques,’ and ‘Vicki!’
Family & Personal Life
Eric Douglas’ father Kirk Douglas is a famous actor, filmmaker, and author. He has won many awards including an ‘Honorary Award’ at the 1996 ‘Academy Awards.’ Douglas’ mother Anne Buydens is a Belgian-American philanthropist and producer. Douglas had two half-brothers, Michael Douglas and Joel Douglas, who were born from his father’s first marriage with American actress Diana Douglas. He also had an older brother named Peter Douglas who went on to become a producer.
In 1991, Douglas was arrested for kicking a police officer. On October 30, 1994, he was once again arrested for possessing cocaine. In November that year, he was charged with driving under the influence when he crashed into a parked car while leaving ‘The Comedy Store’ in West Hollywood.
In May 1996, he was arrested for possessing a controlled substance. While raiding his Manhattan apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, police found 1,085 Xanax pills and eleven vials of crack cocaine. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to complete a program at a rehab center. In August 1996, he was arrested again for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
In 1999, he choked on a piece of sausage while having breakfast with his father. Because he had ingested Xanax pills, he was unable to dislodge the sausage from his throat. He was then taken to ‘Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’ where he slipped into coma for eight days. He also suffered anoxic brain injury which slurred his speech and altered his gait.
In May 2001, he sued Dr. William Leader, claiming that the doctor had prescribed him a combination of drugs including ‘Vicodin,’ ‘Klonopin,’ and ‘Xanax’ which could prove lethal when combined with alcohol. He said his doctor failed to consider his drinking problem while prescribing the drugs. In 2004, he was admitted in a rehab center where his parents often visited him.
Eric Douglas was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on July 6, 2004. It was later ascertained that his death was caused by acute intoxication and his death was ruled accidental. His mortal remains were buried at ‘Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery’ in Los Angeles, California.