He received his Bachelor of Arts in Drama from the University of California, Santa Barbara.His early acting roles included film, stage, and television productions.
In 2004, Douglas presented Malden with the Monte Cristo Award of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1975, Douglas received from his father, Kirk Douglas, the rights to the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Douglas first achieved prominence for his performance in the ABC police procedural television series The Streets of San Francisco, for which he received three consecutive Emmy Award nominations.
In 1975 Douglas produced One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, having acquired the rights to the Ken Kesey novel from his father.
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.
It also reintroduced Douglas as a capable leading man and gave director Robert Zemeckis his first box-office success.Kirk relented, and the lead role went instead to Jack Nicholson, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor.Douglas won the Award for Best Picture for producing the film.Michael Douglas started his film career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, appearing in little known films such as Hail, Hero! Douglas later said that Malden became a "mentor" and someone he "admired and loved deeply".After Douglas left the show, he had a long association with his mentor until Malden's death on July 1, 2009.In 1992, Douglas had another successful starring role when he appeared alongside Sharon Stone in the film Basic Instinct.