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In 1979, he both produced and starred in The China Syndrome, a dramatic film co-starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon about a nuclear power plant accident (the Three Mile Island accident took place 12 days after the film's release).The film was considered "one of the most intelligent Hollywood films of the 1970s." Douglas's acting career was propelled to fame when he produced and starred in the 1984 romantic adventure comedy Romancing the Stone.The year 1987 saw Douglas star in the thriller Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close.That same year he played tycoon Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's Wall Street for which he received an Academy Award as Best Actor.Kirk Douglas hoped to portray Mc Murphy himself, having starred in an earlier stage version, but was deemed too old for the part by his son Michael.Kirk relented, and the lead role went instead to Jack Nicholson, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor.Douglas attended The Allen-Stevenson School in New York City, Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and The Choate Preparatory School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut. He studied acting with Wynn Handman at The American Place Theatre in New York City. His first significant role came in the TV series The Streets of San Francisco from 1972 to 1976, in which he starred alongside Karl Malden.
He reprised the role in the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010).
Other popular films he starred in during the decade were Falling Down, The American President, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Game (directed by David Fincher), and a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic – Dial M for Murder – titled A Perfect Murder.
In 1998 Douglas received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
It also reintroduced Douglas as a capable leading man and gave director Robert Zemeckis his first box-office success.
The film also starred Danny De Vito, a friend of Douglas since they had shared an apartment in the 1960s.