Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch, 09.12.1916) Kirk Douglas is an award winning American actor.
Childhood: Kirk Douglas was born in Amsterdam, New York. His parents were Jewish immigrants Bryna 'Bertha' and Herschel 'Harry' Danielovitch, a horse trader. He grew up in a poor family that spoke Yiddish. As a child he sold food to mill workers to earn money before becoming a paperboy among many other jobs. He attended St. Lawrence University after receiving a loan which he paid back through gardening and janitor jobs. There he was an avid wrestler and also used the sport to make money. He was later given a scholarship for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and subsequently made his Broadway debut in 'Spring Again'. He joined the Navy in 1941 during World War II and changed his name to Kirk Douglas. He was later discharged for injuries.
Career: Kirk Douglas began his acting career in radio, theatre and commercials, making a breakthrough in the production 'Kiss and Tell'. His first film role came with 1946's 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers' with Barbara Stanwyck. He was often seen in 'tough guy' roles in his film career; his eighth film saw him play a boxer in 'Champion' opposite Marilyn Maxwell. He formed a movie production company called 'Bryna Productions' which he named after his mother. In 1949, he appeared in Anton Chekhov's Broadway play 'Three Sisters'. He has starred in several westerns including 'Along the Great Divide' in 1951 and 'Lonely Are the Brave' in 1962. He was nominated for an Oscar for his 1952 film 'The Bad and the Beautiful' alongside Lana Turner. He has had a military role in various movies including Stanley Kubrick's 'Paths of Glory' in 1957, 1964's 'Seven Days in May' opposite Ava Gardner, 'Heroes of Telemark' in 1965 with Richard Harris, 'In Harm's Way' alongside John Wayne and Henry Fonda and 1966's 'Cast a Giant Shadow' with Yul Brynner, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra. He won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in 'Lust for Life' in 1956 which also starred Anthony Quinn. He is possibly best known for his appearance in 1960's Academy Award nominated 'Spartacus' in which he played the title role opposite Peter Ustinov, Laurence Olivier and Tony Curtis. He has played in several comedies including Disney's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' in 1954 opposite James Mason, 'The western Man Without a Star' in 1955 and 'For Love or Money' in 1963. He appeared in several films with Burt Lancaster including 'I Walk Alone' in 1948, 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral' in 1957 and 'The List of Adrian Messenger' in 1963. He directed his first film 'Scalawag' in 1973 though it wasn't well-received. In 1986, he co-hosted the New York Philharmonic's tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty with Angela Lansbury. Although he has never won a competitive Oscar despite being nominated three times, he received an Honorary Academy Award in 1996 for his acting achievements. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame though it has been replaced since its initial unveiling due to a theft. His other honours include having a Palm Springs avenue, Kirk Douglas Way, named after him; his 1981 receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the French Legion of Honor in 1985 and the National Medal of the Arts in 2001. He famously presented the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the Academy Awards in 2011 and shamelessly flirted with Anne Hathaway.
Personal Life: Kirk Douglas married Diana Dill in 1943 and had two sons, Michael Douglas and Joel Douglas. They divorced in 1951. He married Anne Buydens in 1954 and had another two sons, Peter Douglas and Eric Douglas. Eric passed away in 2004 from a drug overdose. In 1991, he was in a helicopter crash where two people died. He subsequently learned to embrace his Jewish heritage which he had struggled to come to terms with for so long. In 1996, he had a bad stroke which had an impact on his voice. He had a second Bar-Mitzvah ceremony in 1999 when he turned 83. He has written several books including the autobiography 'The Ragman's Son'.
Biography by Contactmusic.com