Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy 93rd Birthday Kirk Douglas!

Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. The son of Bryna Sanglel and Herschel "Harry" Danielovitch, a businessman.

Coming from a poor family, as a boy, Kirk Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread. Later, he delivered newspapers and claims to have 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."

Kirk 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.

Kirk Douglas's 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 (better known as Lauren Bacall), who would play an important role in launching his film career.

Graduating from drama school, Douglas made his Broadway debut as a singing telegraph boy in Spring Again. He would later appear in Broadway productions of The Three Sisters, Alice in Arms, Kiss and Tell, and Woman Bites Dog.

Kirk 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.

After the war, Douglas returned to New York City and found work in radio theatre and commercials. Kirk Douglas had planned to remain a stage actor but Lauren Bacall helped him get his first screen role in the film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), starring Barbara Stanwyck.

Kirk Douglas most notable film roles include Out of the Past (1947), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), Champion (1949), Young Man with a Horn (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Strangers When We Meet (1960), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), A Gunfight (1971), Posse (1975), and The Man from Snowy River (1982).

Kirk Douglas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for Lust of Life (1956), Champion (1949) and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).

In 1996 he received an Honorary Oscar for Life Time Achievement. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures, which was stolen and later replaced.

Kirk Douglas received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1991.

A frequent co-star of Burt Lancaster, they appeared in six movies: Tough Guys (1986), Seven Days in May (1964), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), I Walk Alone (1948), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Devil's Disciple (1959).

Kirk Douglas married twice, first to Diana Dill, on November 2, 1943. The couple had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. They divorced in 1951. He then married Anne Buydens on May 29, 1954. They had two sons, producer Peter Douglas and actor Eric Douglas. Kirk and Anne have been married 55 years.

In 1991, he survived a helicopter crash in which two people died. This sparked a search for meaning, which led him, after much study, to embrace the Judaism in which he was raised. He documented this spiritual journey in his book Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning (2001).

Now retired, Kirk Douglas blogs regularly on his MySpace account. At 93, he is the oldest celebrity blogger.

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