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Amsterdam, New York, United States
Claim to Fame
Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Producer
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Profile Bio Text
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)
Count - Awards
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, 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), Saturn 3 (1980) and Tough Guys (1986).
Film And Stage Actor, Film Producer And Author.
Posted by brian 12 months ago
what a hot band. love all their music
Posted by Joe 12 months ago
Would love to meet you before I die,
Posted by greg fischer 12 months ago
We are unable to find our family pictures. We would like to order our pictu...
Posted by Michael Wren 12 months ago
You can find the statue proposal on Kickstarter dot com