According to the March 31, 1941, issue of Time magazine, Douglas and Edward G. Robinson, who were both Democratic activists, bid $3,200 for the fedora hat that 'Franklin Delano Roosevelt' had worn during his three successful campaigns for the presidency. They acquired the hat at a special Hollywood auction to benefit the Motion Picture Relief Fund. Douglas was active in liberal and progressive political causes in the 1930s and 1940s, which led to charges being leveled against him of being a Communist and/or a "fellow traveler" by far-right-wing Republicans during the McCarthy "Red Scare" era of the 1950s. Douglas' wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, would later be elected to the US House of Representatives as a Democrat from California, but was defeated in her 1950 bid for the U.S. Senate by Republican Congressman Richard Nixon, who derisively called her "The Pink Lady" for what he termed her "leftist" leanings. President John F. Kennedy would appoint her Treasurer of the United States in 1961. When Ronald Reagan was elected US President in 1980, Douglas said that his former friend (who changed from a liberal Democrat to an
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 240-242. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Brother of George Douglas.
Grandfather of Illeana Douglas.
He had six grandchildren when he died.
He had two children with second wife, Helen Gahagan: a son named Peter (b. 1933) and daughter Mary Helen (b. 1938). He had one son with his first wife, Rosalind, named Melvyn Gregory Hesselberg (b. January 28, 1926).
In 1967, he became the fifth performer to win the triple crown of acting. Oscar: Best Supporting Actor, Hud (1963) & Best Supporting Actor, Being There (1979), Tony: Best Actor-Play, The Best Man (1960), and Emmy: Best Actor-Drama, "CBS Playhouse: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (#1.2)" (1967) .
Two grandsons from son Gregory, named Stefan and Erik.
Won Broadway's 1960 Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "The Best Man."