- Also Known As:
- Izzy Demsky
- Date of Birth:
- December 9, 1916
- 5' 9"
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, NY) is an American actor, producer, director and author. Kirk grew up in an impoverished home with Russian Jewish immigrant parents and six sisters. He enlisted in the US Navy in 1941 after the US entered WW2, but was medically discharged for injuries in 1944. He returned to NYC and found work in radio, theater and commercials, doing a number of soap operas. His first film was in 1946 with Barbara Stanwyck called The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers. Kirk developed a character type of a tough guy, established in his eighth film Champion (1949) when he played a selfish boxer. For the role, he received his first Oscar nom and the film received 6 nominations over all. He broke out of the studio contract system and formed his own movie company, Bryna Productions. Throughout the 50s and 60s, Kirk blew up as a major box-office star. He starred in his first western in 1951, Along the Great Divide, but his personal favorite performance was in Lonely Are The Brave (1962). Kirk went on to be nominated for his roles in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Lust For Life (1956). Between 1970 and 2008, Kirk made nearly 40 movies, including The Final Countdown, Tough Guys and The Secret. Since suffering a stroke in 1996, Kirk has taken up blogging and reduced his appearances.
Best Known For:
Kirk Douglas is best known for his leading role as a boxing hero in Champion. He is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Kirk was married to Diana Dill on Nov. 2, 1943; they divorced in 1951. The couple had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. He then met Belgium producer Anne Buydens and the two married in 1954. They had two sons: producer Peter Douglas and actor Eric Douglas, who died in 2004 from a drug overdose. In 1991, Kirk was injured in a plane crash. Two people were killed. The crash prompted Kirk to search for meaning, which lead him to embrace his conservative Judaism. He documented his search in his book Climbing The Mountain: My Search for Meaning (2001). He has since become an integral part in Jewish and Zionist philanthropy. Kirk received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Jimmy Carter in 1981 after flying to Cairo to talk peace with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. After suffering a severe stroke in 1996, which impaired his ability to speak, Kirk wrote another book, My Stroke Of Luck. Just two months after his stroke, Kirk was abled to verbally thank the audience and accept an honorary Academy Award.