'Black sheep' of the Douglas clan found dead in New York

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The Independent US

Kirk Douglas's son Eric, who had battled drug and alcohol problems for years, was found dead yesterday inside a New York apartment building.

Kirk Douglas's son Eric, who had battled drug and alcohol problems for years, was found dead yesterday inside a New York apartment building.

Eric, a stand-up comedian and younger brother of Fatal Attraction star Michael, was discovered after someone flagged down a passing police car. There were no signs of foul play, police said, and an autopsy was planned. He had just passed his 46th birthday.

Eric Douglas was an aspiring actor and comedian but he never found the success of his Oscar-winning father and half brother. He had a short-lived acting career in the 1980s and early '90s, playing supporting roles in movies such as Delta Force 3: The Killing Game and The Golden Child. He also appeared in an episode of an HBO cable television programme, Tales From the Crypt, opposite his father, who earned an Emmy nomination for his role.

After his privileged upbringing and winning a coveted place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London in 1980, Eric's life became troubled. For many years, he struggled with drug and alcohol addictions while repeatedly clashing with the law, spending time behind bars and in rehabilitation clinics.

In 1997, he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession after his arrest for accepting a shipment of more than 1,000 anti-depressant pills.

A year earlier, he spent the night in jail after smashing his rental car into two vehicles in an alleged drunk-driving incident.

In 1996, he spent a month in jail after a flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, in which he allowed his dog to roam the airplane while he became "loud and verbally abusive" toward the crew, authorities said.

In an interview in 2000, he said that he had spent eight days in a coma after taking an overdose of pills a year earlier. He said: "People think I have it easy because I'm Kirk Douglas's son or Michael Douglas's brother. But the truth is that sometimes it's harder.."

He was the second son of Kirk's second marriage, to publicity agent and producer Anne Buydens (Michael was born to Kirk's first wife, Diana Dill).

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