- Kirk Douglas
name = Kirk Douglas
caption = Kirk Douglas in "
The Bad and the Beautiful" 1952
birthname = Issur Danielovitch
birthdate = birth date and age|1916|12|9
birthplace = Amsterdam,
othername = Izzy Demsky
Academy Honorary Award1996 Lifetime Achievement
Honorary César1980 Lifetime Achievement
goldenglobeawards = Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama 1956 "Lust for Life"
Cecil B. DeMille Award1968 Lifetime Achievement
AFI Life Achievement Award(1991)
Diana Dill(1943-1951) Anne Buydens (1954-)
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch;Douglas, Kirk. [http://books.google.com/books?id=J4c0AAAACAAJ&dq=Let%27s+Face+It&ei=3PXRR8iCDojUiwGqxsSrBQ "Let's Face It"] . John Wiley & Sons, 2007. ISBN 0470084693.]
December 9, 1916) is an Academy Award-nominated American actorand film producerknown for his cleft chin, his gravelly voice and his recurring roles as the kinds of characters Douglas himself once described as "sons of bitches". He is also father to Hollywoodactor and producer Michael Douglas. He was #17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time.
Douglas was born in Amsterdam,
New York, to Bryna (née Sanglel) and Herschel "Harry" Danielovitch, a businessman. [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/30/Kirk-Douglas.html Kirk Douglas Biography (1916-) ] ] Douglas's parents were illiterate Russian Jewish immigrants from Gomel, now in Belarus. [ [http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/030530/kirk.shtml Kirk Douglas returns to Judaism ] ] cite news |last=Tugend |first=Tom |title=Lucky number 90|publisher=The Jerusalem Post |date= 2006-12-12|url=http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164881875567&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull |accessdate=2006-12-12] His father's brother, who had emigrated earlier, used the surname of Demsky, which Douglas's family adopted. For a time, Douglas was known as Izzy Demsky, though his name was never legally changed to that.
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 claims to have worked at more than forty jobs before becoming an actor. [Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 12.] He found living in a family of six sisters to be stifling, "I was dying to get out. In a sense, it lit a fire under me."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 13] 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."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 11]
Though he couldn’t afford tuition, Douglas talked his way into
St. Lawrence Universityand received a loan, which he paid back working part-time as a gardener and a janitor. He was a standout on the wrestling team, and one summer he wrestled in a carnival to make some extra money.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 15.]
His talents were noticed at the
American Academy of Dramatic Artsin New York City, where he received a special scholarship. One of his classmates was Betty Joan Perske (soon to be better known as Lauren Bacall), who later would play an important role in launching his film career.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 18] Another classmate was aspiring Bermudian actress, Diana Dill, who later became his wife. While doing summer stock theater during a college term break, he began using the name Kirk Douglas, which he would legally adopt. He also earned his first money as an actor.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 16.] After graduating from drama school, Douglas made his Broadway debut as a singing telegraph boy in "Spring Again".
Douglas served in the
United States Navyfrom the U.S. entry into World War IIin 1941 and received a medical discharge for war injuries in 1944. On May 3, 1943, Diana Dill, his former classmate, appeared on the cover of "Life" magazine. Seeing her photograph, Douglas told his fellow sailors that he would marry her, which he did on November 2 1943. Their son, Michael Douglas, was born in 1944. They divorced nine years later.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 17.]
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. Wallisfilm " 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 the leading role, and made his film acting debut as a weak man dominated by a ruthless woman, unlike his later roles were he often played dominating roles.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 33.]
Douglas established his image as a tough guy in his eighth film, "Champion", playing a selfish boxer, and from then on, he made a career of playing "sons of bitches."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 19.] From that film on, he decided that to succeed as a star, he needed to ramp up his intensity, overcome his natural shyness, and chose stronger roles. He conceded later, "I don’t think I’d be much of an actor without vanity. And I’m not interested in being a 'modest actor'."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 28.] Early in his Hollywood career, he demonstrated his independent streak and broke his studio contracts to gain total control over his projects, forming his own movie company "Bryna Productions", named after his mother.
Douglas was a major box office star in the 1950s and 60s, playing opposite some of the leading female actors of that era including
Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Doris Day, Jeanne Crain, Rhonda Fleming, Virginia Mayo, Lizabeth Scott, Laraine Day, Jane Wyman, Eleanor Parker, Lana Turner, Kim Novak, Susan Hayward, Janet Leigh, and Jean Simmons.
Among his various roles, Douglas played a cowboy in his first western "
Along the Great Divide" (1951). Douglas quickly became comfortable with riding horses and playing gunslingers, and returned in many westerns. In " Lonely Are the Brave" (1962), one of his favorite roles, Douglas plays a cowboy trying to live by his own code, much as he did in real life.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 181.]
The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952), one of his three Oscar-nominated roles, Douglas plays Jonathan Shields, a hard-nosed film producer who manipulates and uses his actors, writers, and directors.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 93] In " Young Man with a Horn" (1950), Douglas portrays the rise and fall of a driven jazz musician, based on real-life horn player Bix Beiderbecke. Composer-pianist Hoagy Carmichael, playing the sidekick role, added realism to the film and gave Douglas insight into the role, being a friend of the real Beiderbecke.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 64.]
Douglas played many military men, with varying nuance, in "
Top Secret Affair" (1957), in " Paths of Glory" (1957) (his most famous role in that genre), " Town Without Pity" (1961), "The Hook" (1963), " Seven Days in May" (1964), " In Harm’s Way" (1965), " Cast a Giant Shadow" (1966), and " Is Paris Burning" (1966) and "The Final Countdown" (1980).
His role as Vincent Van Gogh in "Lust for Life" (1956), filmed mostly on location in France, was noted not only for the veracity of his appearance but also for how he conveyed the painter’s internal turmoil. Director
Vincente Minellistated, "Kirk Douglas achieved a moving and memorable portrait of the artist—a man of massive creative power, triggered by severe emotional stress, the fear and horror of madness. In my opinion, Kirk should have won the Academy Award."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 7.]
Douglas played the lead with an all-star cast in "Spartacus" (1960). He was the executive producer as well, raising the $12 million production cost.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 168.] He also played an important role in breaking the
Hollywood blacklistby making sure that Dalton Trumbo's name was mentioned in the opening and ending credits of the film for the outstanding screenplay he did for the film. The movie was directed by Stanley Kubrickwho three years earlier had collaborated closely with Douglas in " Paths of Glory", where Douglas played one of his most notable roles as Colonel Dax, the commander of a French regiment during World War I.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 149.]
In addition to serious, driven characters, Douglas was adept at roles requiring a comic touch, as in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954), an adaption of the
Jules Vernenovel, wherein he plays a happy-go-lucky sailor who is the opposite in every way of the brooding Captain Nemo ( James Mason). This was Walt Disney's first full-length live action movie and a box office hit. He manages a similar comic turn in the western " Man Without a Star" (1955) and in " For Love or Money" (1963).
Douglas made several films over the decades with
Burt Lancaster, including " I Walk Alone" (1948), "Gunfight at the OK Corral" (1957), "The Devil's Disciple" (1959), " Seven Days in May" (1964), and " Tough Guys" (1986). Douglas was always second-billed under Lancaster in these films but, with the exception of "I Walk Alone", in which Douglas played a villain, their roles were more or less the same size. Both actors arrived in Hollywood at the same time, and first appeared together in the fourth film for each. They both became actor-producers who sought out independent Hollywood careers.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 44.]
Douglas stated that the keys to acting success are determination and application, "You must know how to function and how to maintain yourself, and you must have a love of what you do. But an actor also needs great good luck. I have had that luck."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 11.] Douglas had great vitality, "It takes a lot out of you to work in this business. Many people fall by the wayside because they don’t have the energy to sustain their talent."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 21] His intensity spilled over into all elements of his film-making. As an actor, he dove into every role, dissecting not only his own lines but all the parts in the script to measure the rightness of the role, and he was willing to fight with the director if he felt justified.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 21.] According to his wife, he often brought home that intensity, "When he was doing "Lust for Life", he came home in that red beard of Van Gogh’s, wearing those big boots, stomping around the house — it was frightening." [Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 44.] His distinctive acting style and delivery made him, like
James Stewart, a favorite with impersonators, especially Frank Gorshin.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 24.]
Unlike some actors like
Robert Mitchum, Douglas had a high opinion of actors, movies, and moviemaking, "To me it is the most important art form—it "is" an art, and it includes all the elements of the modern age." But he also stressed the entertainment value of films, "You can make a statement, you can say something, but it must be entertaining."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 28.] His first film as a director was "Scalawag" (1973). In his autobiography "The Ragman’s Son", he said "Since I was accused so often of trying to direct the films I was in, I thought I ought to really try my hand at directing."Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 256.] It was a difficult debut with many production problems, requiring his wife to act as producer. Douglas plays a charming scoundrel with one leg, a considerable challenge to his athleticism, and though he got credit for his role, the film received unimpressive reviews.Thomas, Tony. "The Films of Kirk Douglas". Citadel Press, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 258.] Later in 1973, Douglas appeared in a made-for-TV musical version of " Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". [ [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/14555/Dr-Jekyll-and-Mr-Hyde/overview "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973)."] " New York Times" Review. Retrieved October 1, 2008.] [cite book|last= Clute|first= John |others=John Grant |title= The Encyclopedia of Fantasy |origyear= 1999 |pages= p518|publisher= Macmillan|isbn= 9780312198695] [cite book |last= Weldon |first= Michael J.|title= The Psychotronic Video Guide |pages= p167 |publisher= St. Martin's Press|origyear= 1996 |isbn=0-312-13149-6 |chapter=Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1973)]
Douglas received three Academy Award nominations for his work in "Champion", "
The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Lust for Life". He was especially disappointed for not winning for the later film, "I really thought I had a chance." Douglas did not win any competitive Oscars, but received a special Oscar in 1996 for "50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community".
For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Kirk Douglas has a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fameat 6263 Hollywood Blvd. Douglas is one of the few personalities (along with Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, and Gene Autry) whose star has been stolen and later replaced. [cite web|url=http://www.hollywoodusa.co.uk/walkoffamestarlocations.htm|title=Hollywood Walk of Fame|work=Guide to and locations of the stars on Hollywood Boulevard.|accessdate=2008-06-13] In 1984, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fameat the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museumin Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.
In October 2004, the avenue "Kirk Douglas Way" in
Palm Springs, Californiawas named in his honor by the Palm Springs International Film Society and Film Festival. Popular at home and around the world, Kirk Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedomin 1981, the French Legion of Honor in 1985, and the National Medal of the Arts in 2001.
Douglas married twice, first to
Diana Dill, on November 2, 1943. The couple had two sons, actor Michael Douglasand producer Joel Douglas. They divorced in 1951. He then married Anne Buydens on May 29, 1954. They have two sons, producer Peter Douglasand actor Eric Douglas. Eric Douglas died July 6, 2004 of an accidental drug overdose.
In 1996, he suffered a
stroke, partially impairing his ability to speak. On December 8, 2006, Douglas appeared on " Entertainment Tonight", where the entire staff wished him a happy 90th birthday the night before. His son Michael, along with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, were among the many celebrities who attended his birthday celebration. On the show, he discussed the books he has written, and the death of his son, Eric in 2004.
A portrait of Douglas, titled "The Great and the Beautiful," which encapsulated his film career, art collection, philanthropy and rehabilitation from a deadly helicopter crash and the aftermath of a severe stroke, appeared in "Palm Springs Life" magazine in 1999. The article said "For years, this energetic performer could be seen jogging several miles to get his morning paper, playing tennis with locals or posing for snapshots and signing autographs for star-struck out-of-towners. He has been a veritable one-man tourist promotion over the past four decades, extolling the virtue of the city he loves to virtually anyone who'll listen".
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946)
Out of the Past" (1947)
Mourning Becomes Electra" (1947)
I Walk Alone" (1948)
* "The Walls of Jericho" (1948)
My Dear Secretary" (1949)
A Letter to Three Wives" (1949)
* "Champion" (1949)
* "Young Man with a Horn" (1950)
* "The Glass Menagerie" (1950)
Along the Great Divide" (1951)
* "Ace in the Hole" (1951)
Detective Story" (1951)
The Big Trees" (1952)
* "The Big Sky" (1952)
The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952)
The Story of Three Loves" (1953)
* "The Juggler" (1953)
Act of Love" (1953)
* "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954)
The Racers" (1955)
Ulisse" (U.S. title: "Ulysses") (1955)
Man Without a Star" (1955)
The Indian Fighter" (1955)
* "Lust for Life" (1956)
Top Secret Affair" (1957)
* "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957)
Paths of Glory" (1957)
* "The Vikings" (1958)
Last Train from Gun Hill" (1959)
* "The Devil's Disciple" (1959)
* "Strangers When We Meet" (1960)
* "Spartacus" (1960)
Town Without Pity" (1961)
* "The Last Sunset" (1961)
Lonely Are the Brave" (1962)
Two Weeks in Another Town" (1962)
The Hook" (1963)
The List of Adrian Messenger" (1963)
* "For Love or Money" (1963)
Seven Days in May" (1964)
In Harm's Way" (1965)
The Heroes of Telemark" (1965)
Cast a Giant Shadow" (1966)
Is Paris Burning?" (1966)
* "The Way West" (1967)
The War Wagon" (1967)
Once Upon a Wheel" (1968) (documentary)
A Lovely Way to Die" (1968)
* "The Brotherhood" (1968)
* "The Arrangement" (1969)
There Was a Crooked Man..." (1970)
To Catch a Spy" (1971)
The Light at the Edge of the World" (1971)
A Gunfight" (1971)
A Man to Respect" (1972)
The Master Touch" (1972)
* "Scalawag" (1973)
* "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973) (TV)" (1973)
* "Posse" (1975)
Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough" (1975)
Holocaust 2000" (1977)
* "The Fury" (1978)
* "The Villain" (1979)
Saturn 3" (1980)
* "Home Movies" (1980)
* "The Final Countdown" (1980)
* "The Man from Snowy River" (1982)
Eddie Macon's Run" (1983)
Tough Guys" (1986)
* "Oscar" (1991)
* "The Secret" (1992) (television)
A Century of Cinema" (1994) (documentary)
* "Greedy" (1994)
* "Diamonds" (1999)
* "It Runs in the Family" (2003)
* "Illusion" (2004)
* "Wisdom of the Elders". 1986.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=xJzBwxbscRwC&pgis=1 "The Ragman's Son"] . Simon & Shuster, 1988. ISBN 0671637177.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=AtwHAgAACAAJ "Dance With the Devil"] . Random House, 1990. ISBN 0394582373.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=P3TxIQAACAAJ" The Gift"] . Warner Books, 1992. ISBN 0446516945.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=V6e7GAAACAAJ "Last Tango in Brooklyn"] . Century, 1994. ISBN 0712648526.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=5G8DAAAACAAJ "The Broken Mirror: A Novella"] . Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1997. ISBN 0689814933.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=ZuIBAAAACAAJ "Young Heroes of the Bible"] . Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0689814917.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=auKQ2xVBVSQC "Climbing The Mountain: My Search For Meaning"] . Simon and Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0743214382.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=nYcVjVYeyu8C "My Stroke of Luck"] . HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN 0060014040.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=J4c0AAAACAAJ "Let's Face It"] . John Wiley & Sons, 2007. ISBN 0470084693.
* Kress, Michael. [http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Rabbis/Michael-Kress/e/9780789308047 "Rabbis: Observations of 100 Leading and Influential Rabbis of the 21st Century"] . (foreword by Kirk Douglas.) Universe, 2002. ISBN 9780789308047.
*McBride, Joseph. [http://books.google.com/books?id=cDBQAAAACAAJ "Kirk Douglas"] . Pyramid Publications, 1976. ISBN 0515040843.
*Munn, Michael. [http://books.google.com/books?id=2DWgHgAACAAJ "Kirk Douglas"] . St. Martin's Press, 1985. ISBN 0312456816.
* Press, Skip. [http://books.google.com/books?id=Iq3aAAAACAAJ "Michael and Kirk Douglas"] . Silver Burdett Press, 1995. ISBN 0382249410.
*tcmdb name|id=52463|name=Kirk Douglas
* [http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article/?cid=161312 Profile] @
Turner Classic Movies
* [http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/Climbing_the_Mountain_-_An_Interview_with_Kirk_Douglas.asp An Interview with Kirk Douglas]
* [http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/ead-idx?c=shs&id=uw-whs-us0102an Approximately 180,000 documents covering Kirk Douglas's life at the Wisconsin Historical Society]
* [http://newcritics.com/blog1/2007/04/27/meeting-kirk-douglas/ Newcritics.com: Meeting Kirk Douglas]
* [Fr] [http://kirk.douglas.free.fr Kirk Douglas, le champion de Hollywood]
title = NYFCC Award for Best Actor
years = 1956 for" Lust for Life"
Ernest Borgninefor " Marty"
Alec Guinnessfor " The Bridge on the River Kwai"succession box
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
years = 1956 for "Lust for Life"
Ernest Borgninefor " Marty"
Alec Guinnessfor " The Bridge on the River Kwai"
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Issur Danielovitch Demsky
actorand film producer
DATE OF BIRTH=
December 9 1916
PLACE OF BIRTH=Amsterdam, New York
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=
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