An autopsy will be performed on the troubled 46-year-old, who was found in a New York apartment

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 07, 2004 08:00 AM

Eric Douglas, the youngest son of Kirk Douglas and half-brother to Michael Douglas, was found dead in his New York City apartment on Tuesday. An autopsy is planned to determine the cause of death.

The body of the 46-year-old sometime actor and, more recently, aspiring stand-up comic, who often had brushes with the law, was discovered by a housekeeper who had come to clean the Manhattan apartment where he was staying, police tell Reuters.

Authorities said there were no signs of foul play. The once-lithe Douglas, who sported Dad’s jutting chin but was said to have ballooned to 300 lbs., was found lying on the floor next to a sofa in the living room of the one-bedroom apartment on East 29th Street, police said.

The Douglas family was “very shocked and saddened” after learning of Eric’s death, said Allen Burry, a family spokesman. “We hope you will respect their privacy at this time.” Kirk Douglas, 87, is reportedly coming from California to New York for the funeral.

Though he struggled to have an acting career (which was often stymied by his use of drugs and alcohol), Eric Douglas – the youngest of Kirk’s four sons, with his second (and since 1954, current wife) Anne Buydens – received more attention for his run-ins with the law than for his work.

Last year, reports Reuters, he was ousted from a North Carolina hotel after managers there found him drunk in a room filled with trash. He told police he was working as a stand-up comedian and participating in a weight-reduction program.

In a 2000 interview, reports the Associated Press, he said he spent eight days in a coma after a pill overdose in 1999. The coma was said to have affected his speech. Two years before that he had pleaded guilty to cocaine possession after his arrest for accepting a shipment of more than 1,000 anti-depressant pills.

In 1996, he spent the night in jail after smashing his rental car into two vehicles in an alleged drunken-driving incident. That same year, he spent a month in jail after being arrested off a flight from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J., because he became “loud and verbally abusive” and threw blankets at flight attendants while allowing his dog to roam the aircraft, authorities said.