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Michael Douglas makes rare public appearance for emotional reason – and there's $1 million involved

HELLO! was on hand while the actor and husband to Catherine Zeta-Jones appeared at an NYC theater gala

Michael Douglas attends the 22nd Monte Cristo award gala at Capitale on November 06, 2023 in New York City.
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad SanwariSenior WriterNew York
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Michael Douglas made a rare public appearance on Monday, November 6 in New York City at the Capitale in support of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 22nd Monte Cristo Award Gala, which HELLO! attended.

The evening honored playwright Lynn Nottage, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the only woman to do so, and featured readings of some of her most acclaimed works to celebrate her legacy.

Michael, 79, is one of the board members for the celebrated theater, which is based in Connecticut and is known for housing and producing now-celebrated playwrights, like Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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The Oscar-winning actor has been honored at the annual gala in the past, and this year, was celebrated for his monumental $1 million donation from last year.

During the gala, executive director Tiffani Gavin noted Michael's generous donation and recalled their pledge to meet his amount over the next four years, celebrating the fact that they'd been able to earn over $750,000 in the span of just 18 months.

Michael was primed and polished for his appearance at the Gala, dressed in a full gray suit with a black button down and matching tie, posing for photos on the carpet.

Michael Douglas attends the 22nd Monte Cristo award gala at Capitale on November 06, 2023 in New York City.© Getty Images
Michael attended the 22nd Monte Cristo Award Gala at Capitale on November 6 in New York City

Last year in April, at the 21st Monte Cristo Award Gala, the Wall Street star noted that he found solace with the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center as a young actor thanks to his step-father, Bill Darrid, who was married to his mother Diana after she divorced Michael's father, veteran actor Kirk Douglas.

SEE: Catherine Zeta-Jones' latest photo of Michael Douglas will leave you doing a double take

"I was looking for a summer job and I reached out to my beloved step-father, William Darrid, who was one of O'Neill's original board members, who told me about this guy George White," he remembered at the ceremony.

Lynn Nottage and Michael Douglas attend the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center Hosts The 22nd Monte Cristo Award Honoring Lynn Nottage at Capitale on November 06, 2023 in New York City.© Getty Images
The evening honored celebrated playwright Lynn Nottage

"I pulled up on my motorcycle to this run-down, but picturesque site, and there's George," he continued, elaborating on how he was made a part of the community in 1968 after Bill put in a good word for him with George White.

RELATED: Michael Douglas talks family tragedy in moving rare appearance and its 'personal impact'

Michael, who has been a prominent benefactor to the center with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, added of his experience with the theater center: "I began to understand playwrights, their process and the collaborative effort to make the magic of the theater happen. These are things that I’ve carried with me through my entire career.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones attend the 2010 Monte Cristo Awards at Bridgewaters on April 5, 2010 in New York City.© Getty Images
Michael and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are prominent theater benefactors

"That's why I'm very pleased to announce I am committing $1 million to George and [his wife] Betsy, so they can go to work supporting this wonderful place."

MORE: Catherine Zeta-Jones shares new video of Michael Douglas inside impressive $4.7m mansion

The Monte Cristo Award, as per a press release, is bestowed "on a prominent artist whose work has had an extraordinary impact on American theater, in memory of its namesake. The annual gala event supports the O'Neill's mission to develop new work and new artists for the stage."

Michael Douglas attends the 21st Monte Cristo Award Gala on at Gotham Hall on April 11, 2022 in New York City.© Getty Images
He donated $1 million to the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center at last year's gala

Past recipients of the Award include actors John Logan, Judith Light, Meryl Streep, Nathan Lane, Christopher Plummer, James Earl Jones, Jason Robards, Jr., Zoe Caldwell, Brian Dennehy, & Karl Malden; playwrights August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, Edward Albee, & Neil Simon; directors Harold Prince & George C. Wolfe; and Arthur & Barbara Gelb and Lin-Manuel.

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