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Amsterdam, New York, United States
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Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Producer
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Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch, Russian: Иссур Даниелович; December 9, 1916) is an American film and stage actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past (1947), Champion (1949), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Vikings (1958), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), The Heroes of Telemark (1965) and Tough Guys (1986).
He is No. 17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male screen legends in American film history, making him the highest-ranked living person on the list. In 1996, he received the Academy Honorary Award "for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community".
Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York, the son of Bryna "Bertha" (née Sanglel) and Herschel "Harry" Danielovitch, a businessman. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mahilyow Voblast, (now in Belarus but then part of the Russian Empire), and the family spoke Yiddish. His father's brother, who emigrated earlier, used the surname Demsky, which Douglas' family adopted in the United States. In addition to their surname, his parents also changed their given names to Harry and Bertha.
His 1988 biography paints a memorable picture of his family in the early years in America. After noting that his father was denied work in the carpet mills, the town's largest employers, because he was Jewish, Douglas writes:
So my father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got himself a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal, and junk for pennies, nickels, and dimes. Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. And I was the ragman's son.
Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the Navy during World War II.
Coming from a poor family, as a boy Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread. Later, he delivered newspapers and worked at more than forty jobs before becoming an actor. He found living in a family of six sisters to be stifling, stating, "I was dying to get out. In a sense, it lit a fire under me." During high school, he acted in school plays, and discovered "The one thing in my life that I always knew, that was always constant, was that I wanted to be an actor."
Unable to afford tuition, Douglas talked his way into St. Lawrence University and received a loan which he paid back by working part-time as a gardener and a janitor. He was a standout on the wrestling team, and wrestled one summer in a carnival to make money.
Douglas' acting talents were noticed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and he received a special scholarship. One of his classmates was Betty Joan Perske (later to become better known as Lauren Bacall), who would play an important role in launching his film career. Another classmate was aspiring Bermudian actress Diana Dill. While doing summer stock theater during a college term break, he began using the name Kirk Douglas, which he later legally adopted. He earned his first money as an actor that summer. Upon graduating from drama school, Douglas made his Broadway debut as a singing telegraph boy in Spring Again.
Douglas enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II. He was medically discharged for war injuries in 1944. On May 3, 1943, Diana Dill, his former classmate, appeared on the cover of Life magazine. Seeing the photograph, Douglas told his fellow sailors that he was going to marry her. He did on November 2, 1943. The couple had two sons (Michael in 1944 and Joel in 1947) before they divorced in 1951.
After the war, Douglas returned to New York City and found work in radio, theatre, and commercials. His stage break occurred in Kiss and Tell, which led to other roles. Douglas had planned to remain a stage actor but Lauren Bacall helped him get his first screen role in the Hal B. Wallis film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), starring Barbara Stanwyck. Wallis was on his way to New York to look for new talent when Bacall suggested he visit Douglas, who was rehearsing a play called The Wind Is Ninety. Douglas finished the play's run and, with no follow-up work in sight, headed to Hollywood. He was immediately cast in one of the leading roles in Wallis' film and made his film acting debut as a weak man dominated by a ruthless woman, unlike his later roles where he often played dominating characters.
Couple Profile Source
Wilbur H. Lynch High School, Amsterdam, New York, United States (1934)
B.A., Saint Lawrence University, Canton, New York, United States (1939), American Academy Of Dramatic Arts, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Full Name at Birth
Page Display = 2 (Legacy)
Herschel "Harry" Danielovitch (A Businessman.)
Bryna "Bertha" (née Sanglel.)
Pesha Danielovitch, Kaleh Danielovitch, Tamara Danielovitch, Haska Danielovitch, Siffra Danielovitch, Rachel Danielovitch
Burt Lancaster, Lauren Bacall, Anthony Quinn, Tony Curtis
Michael Douglas (Son), Joel Douglas (Son), Peter Douglas (Son), Eric Douglas (Son), Cameron Douglas (Grandson)
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916) is an American actor, producer, director, and author. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s, known for doing serious dramas, including westerns and war movies. During a sixty-year acting career, he has appeared in over 90 movies, and in 1960 was responsible for helping to end the Hollywood blacklist.
Film And Stage Actor, Film Producer And Author.
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Wiki Bio Text
Biography by Sandra Brennan [-]
Once quoted as saying "I've made a career of playing sons of bitches," Kirk Douglas is considered by many to be the epitome of the Hollywood hard man. In addition to acting in countless films over the course of his long career, Douglas has served as a director and producer, and will forever be associated with his role in helping to put an end to the infamous Hollywood black list.
Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch) was the son Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Amsterdam, NY, on December 9, 1916. He waited tables to finance his education at St. Lawrence University, where he was a top-notch wrestler. While there, he also did a little work in the theater, something that soon gave way to his desire to pursue acting as a career. After some work as a professional wrestler, Douglas held various odd jobs, including a stint as a bellhop, to put himself through the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1941, he debuted on Broadway, but had only two small roles before he enlisting in the Navy and serving in World War II. Following his discharge, Douglas returned to Broadway in 1945, where he began getting more substantial roles; he also did some work on radio.
After being spotted and invited to Hollywood by producer Hal Wallis, Douglas debuted onscreen in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), but he did not emerge as a full-fledged star until he portrayed an unscrupulously ambitious boxer in Champion (1949); with this role (for which he earned his first Oscar nomination), he defined one of his principle character types: a cocky, selfish, intense, and powerful man. Douglas fully established his screen persona during the '50s thanks to strong roles in such classics as Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951), William Wyler's Detective Story (1951), and John Sturges' Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). He earned Oscar nominations for his work in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Lust for Life (1956), both of which were directed by Vincente Minnelli. In 1955, the actor formed his own company, Bryna Productions, through which he produced both his own films and those of others, including Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960); both of these movies would prove to be two of the most popular and acclaimed of Douglas' career. In 1963, he appeared on Broadway in Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, but was never able to interest Hollywood in a film version of the work; he passed it along to his son Michael Douglas (a popular actor/filmmaker in his own right), who eventually brought it to the screen to great success.
During the '60s, Douglas continued to star in such films as John Huston's The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) and John Frankenheimer's Seven Days in May (1964), both of which he also produced. He began directing some of his films in the early '70s, scoring his greatest success as the director, star, and producer for Posse (1975), a Western in which he played a U.S. marshal eager for political gain.
Though he continued to appear in films, by the '80s Douglas began volunteering much of his time to civic duties. Since 1963, he had worked as a Goodwill Ambassador for the State Department and the USIA, and, in 1981, his many contributions earned him the highest civilian award given in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom. For his public service, Douglas was also given the Jefferson Award in 1983. Two years later, the French government dubbed him Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for his artistic contributions. Other awards included the American Cinema Award (1987), the German Golden Kamera Award (1988), and the National Board of Review's Career Achievement Award (1989). In 1995, the same year he suffered a debilitating stroke, Douglas was presented with an honorary Oscar by the Academy; four years later, he was the recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor that was accompanied by a screening of 16 of his films. In addition to his film work, Douglas has also written two novels: Dance with the Devil (1990) and The Secret (1992). He published his autobiography, The Ragman's Son, in 1988.
In March of 2009, Douglas starred Before I Forget, a one man show that took place at the Center Theater Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California. All four performances of the show were filmed and later made into a documentary that eventually screened in 2010. The following year, Douglas presented the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 83rd Academy Awhttp://www.allmovie.com/artist/kirk-douglas-p88133ards.