One of the legendary Hollywood “Gold Era” actors was born today December 9, in 1916!
Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York. His mother Bryna “Bertha” (née Sanglel) and his father Herschel “Harry” Danielovitch, a businessman were Jewish immigrants from Gomel, Belarus.
His family was poor and as a boy Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to gain some money to buy milk and bread. Later, he delivered newspapers and worked at more than forty jobs before becoming an actor. 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.”
Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky (one of his father’s brother adopted this name when moved to the States before them) and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the Navy during World War II.
After the war, Douglas returned to New York City and found work in radio, theater, and commercials. Lauren Bacall helped him get his first screen role in the Hal B. Wallis film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers in 1946. Wallis was on his way to New York to look for new talent when Bacall suggested to go and see Douglas, who was rehearsing a play called The Wind Is Ninety. Douglas after 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 his immense Hollywood fate just started!
Douglas married twice. The first marriage was with Diana Dill, in 1943. The couple had two sons, the known actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. They divorced in 1951. Then he married German American producer Anne Buydens in 1954. They had two sons, producer Peter Douglas and actor Eric Douglas who died young.
In February 1991, Douglas survived a helicopter crash in which two people died. This led Kirk, after much study, to embrace the Judaism in which he was raised. He documented this long spiritual journey in his book Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning (2001).
An impressive career from an impressive man! Keep walking Mr. Kirk Douglas! And happy birthday…
Some paper ideas from the same date from the past!
KO for eCharta