01/18/2002 AT 12:10 PM EST
Hollywood film legend Kirk Douglas, 85, took his book publicity tour to the nation's capital this week to promote his latest, "My Stroke of Luck," which describes his 1996 stroke and, following thoughts of suicide, his eventual physical and emotional recovery, reports PEOPLE. The "Lust for Life" star says fellow actors Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve, to whom he dedicates his book, made a crucial difference to his situation when they inspired him to refocus his energies on helping others instead of feeling sorry for himself. (Fox suffers from Parkinson's disease, while Reeve is paralyzed after breaking his neck in a 1995 horse-riding accident.) "I just admire that they have used their handicaps to try to help other people. Because handicapped people usually hide," said Douglas, whose speech is still impaired since the stroke. "I want to try to use (my handicap) to help other people, to encourage people that even with a stroke you can function. You can even make a movie!" The star, who has been in nearly 75 films, says he is starting a new one next month that will also star both his son, Michael, 57, and his grandson, Cameron, 23. It is a comedy called "Smack in the Puss," about three generations of a dysfunctional family. "Three generations," Douglas emphasized. "That's something." He also proudly mentioned the newest member of the Douglas clan, Dylan Michael, the 17-month-old son of Michael and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, 32. "You know, Dylan has a dimple bigger than mine," said the eldest Douglas. "(But) I think he looks more like Catherine. Catherine with a dimple. Not bad!"