Kirk Douglas Biography

(Actor and Filmmaker)

Birthday: December 9, 1916 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Amsterdam, New York, United States

Kirk Douglas or Issur Danielovitch Demsky was an American actor, producer and director who rose from the ghettos to become a super star in American cinema. His parents were very poor Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, located in present day Belarus. Kirk was a very keen student and athlete. He was fond of acting and at a very young age realized that getting a scholarship for acting would be the road to salvation from his poor and wretched condition. He had enough talent to get enrolled at the ‘American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ which opened the door to fame and riches. He has acted in a large number of movies including serious works, thrillers, westerns and comedies. His gravelly voice, dimpled chin, steely and penetrating gaze helped him to play roles which were very compelling and brought him rave reviews. He acted in seven films with Burt Lancaster who is another American film legend. He portrayed in a variety of roles ranging from an opportunistic and untrustworthy character to a rebellious and unsavory character. He was been nominated for the Oscar many times.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Issur Danielovitch


Spouse/Ex-: Anne Buydens, Diana Dill

father: Herschel Danielovitch

mother: Bryna Sanglel

children: Eric Douglas, Joel Douglas, Michael Douglas, Peter Douglas

Born Country: United States

Actors T V & Movie Producers

Height: 5'9" (175 cm), 5'9" Males

Died on: February 5, 2020

place of death: Beverly Hills, California, United States

Notable Alumni: St. Lawrence University

Grouping of People: Centenarian

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: American Academy Of Dramatic Arts, St. Lawrence University

Childhood & Early Life
Kirk Douglas was born in Amsterdam, New York, USA, on December 9, 1916 to Herschel Danielovitch and Bryna Sanglel Danielovitch. Kirk grew up with six sisters.
During his early days he worked at different jobs to support himself and his family and wanted to become a professional actor.
After completing high school he was able to get a loan from the Dean of the St. Lawrence University to pay for his studies.
He got a scholarship for studying acting from New York’s ‘American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ which recognized his acting talent.
Continue Reading Below
Kirk Douglas started his acting career with a handful of minor roles in various Broadway productions.
He joined the US Navy in 1941 during the Second World War and returned to acting in the theater after the end of the war in 1945.
In 1946 Hal B. Wallis gave Kirk the lead role in ‘The Strange Love of Martha Ivers’ which brought rave reviews.
In 1948 he acted in the low-key drama ‘I Walk Alone’ alongside Burt Lancaster for the first time.
He received his first nomination for the Oscar in 1949 for his role in ‘Champion’.
He acted in the film ‘Ace in the Hole’ in 1951. The ‘Bad and the Beautiful’ brought him his second Oscar nomination in 1952.
He started his own production company ‘Bryna Productions’ in 1955.
His third Oscar nomination came with the film ‘Lust for Life’ in 1956.
The film ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ in 1957 was another of his films with Burt Lancaster.
Continue Reading Below
He acted in the anti-war epic ‘Paths of Glory’ in 1957 and the magnificent film ‘Spartacus’ in 1960 under the banner of Bryna Productions.
In 1962 he acted in the western ‘Lonely Are the Brave’ while in 1963 he appeared in the stage adaptation of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ which was made into a film in 1975 by his son Michael.
In 1964 he acted in the political thriller ‘Seven Days in May’. He acted alongside John Wayne in the Second World War film ‘in Harm’s Way’ in 1965.
In 1966 he acted in the film ‘Cast a Giant Shadow’ based on the Israeli freedom struggle.
His second film with John Wayne was ‘The War Wagon’ in 1967
He paired up with Burt Lancaster for the last time in a gangster comedy called ‘Tough Guys’ in 1968.
He directed ‘Scalawag’ in 1973 and ‘Posse’ in 1975 but did not have much success at the box-office.
He starred alongside a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Western comedy film ‘The Villain’ in 1979.
His sci-fi film ‘Saturn 3’ with Farah Fawcett came out in 1980.
Continue Reading Below
He travelled to Australia in 1982 to act in the film ‘The Man from Snowy River’.
He produced two great movies ‘Dance with the Devil’ and ‘The Gift’ in 1990 and 1992 respectively.
He starred in the comedy ‘Diamonds’ in 1999.
He was nominated for the Emmy Award for a guest appearance in ‘Touched by an Angel’ in 2000.
In 2003 he acted with his son Michael in the film ‘It Runs in the Family’.
In 2009 he staged a one-man show ‘Before I Forget’ and was greatly appreciated for his performance.
In 1988 he brought out his autography titled ‘The Ragman’s Son’, which was a best-seller.
He published the non-fiction, ‘Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning’ in 1997’ and in 2003 and ‘My Stroke of Luck’.
He published the biographical work ‘Let’s face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving, and Learning’ in 2007 and ‘I am Spartacus! The making of a Film, Breaking the Blacklist’ in 2012.
Awards & Achievements
Kirk Douglas received the American ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ in 1981 and the Jefferson Award in 1983 for his humanitarian activities.
He received the ‘American Cinema Award’ and the ‘German Golden Kamera Award’ in 1987, the ‘National Board of Reviews Career Achievement Award’ in 1989, an honorary ‘Academy Award in 1995, the ‘Recipient of the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 1999 and the ‘UCLA medal of Honor’ in 2002.
Personal Life & Legacy
Kirk Douglas married Diana Dill on November 2, 1943 and divorced her on February 23, 1951. He has two sons, Michael and Joel from this marriage.
He married Anne Budyens on May 29, 1954 and they had two sons, Peter and Eric from this marriage.
Kirk Douglas contributed millions of dollars in aid to hospitals and other institutions. He was the ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ of the US government since 1963.
Kirk Douglas died on 5 February 2020, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 103.

Kirk Douglas Movies

1. Paths of Glory (1957)

  (Drama, War)

2. Spartacus (1960)

  (Adventure, War, Biography, History, Drama)

3. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

  (Drama, Western)

4. Seven Days in May (1964)

  (Thriller, Drama, Romance)

5. Ace in the Hole (1951)

  (Film-Noir, Drama)

6. The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

  (Romance, Drama)

7. The Vikings (1958)

  (Action, Adventure)

8. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

  (Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Drama, Family)

9. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

  (Drama, Biography, Western)

10. The Man from Snowy River (1982)

  (Romance, Drama, Western, Adventure, Family)


Golden Globe Awards
1957 Best Actor - Drama Lust for Life (1956)

See the events in life of Kirk Douglas in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Kirk Douglas Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Michael Douglas Biography
Michael Douglas
Anne Buydens Biography
Anne Buydens
Eric Douglas Biography
Eric Douglas
Timothée Chalamet Biography
Timothée Chalamet
Carl Weathers Biography
Carl Weathers
Robert Downey Jr. Biography
Robert Downey Jr.
Alan Ritchson Biography
Alan Ritchson
Dwayne Johnson Biography
Dwayne Johnson