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  • Kirk Douglas was born in the upstate New York town of Amsterdam as Issur Danielovitch, the son of an illiterate Russian-Jewish immigrant who supported his family of six daughters and one son as a rag picker and junkman
  • On religious observance: “I don’t think God wants compliments. God wants you to do something with your life and to help others.”
  • “You have to give back,” Douglas once explained. “I came from abject poverty. I didn’t dream of becoming a millionaire. So you have to pay back.”
  • “The Torah is the greatest screenplay ever written
  • “In the Jewish tradition, a birthday gives a person special powers and if he issues a blessing, his blessing will come true,” he said.








VIA:  Kirk Douglas‘ life is quite literally a rags to riches tale. The headstrong actor has sparred with Hollywood and survived a stroke – and is now turning 100.




The story of Kirk Douglas, which would become his stage name, is a rags to riches tale that epitomizes the American dream.

The young Kirk Douglas was extremely ambitious. His mother had told him that, as a Jew, he’d have to be twice as good as others to achieve his goals. Thanks to a scholarship, he was able to attend college, but dropped out of his law studies to pursue acting.

Over the next two years, he worked hard at the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts, and his efforts paid off: He snagged his first role on Broadway. But he wouldn’t spend much time on stage before moving to film – thanks to a coincidence.


Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory, 1957 (imago) “Paths of Glory” (1957) was one of Douglas’ more political films



In 1995, a stroke nearly cut Douglas’ life short. Only after years of therapy was he able to speak again. It would be a traumatic experience for every actor, but Kirk Douglas didn’t let it get him down. At least publicly, he took it with humor and appeared on talk shows to discuss his stroke experience.

Return to his Jewish faith

It was during this time that Douglas found his way back to his Jewish faith. He has donated a great deal of money to charitable projects in the US and Israel. He and his wife have built playgrounds in underprivileged neighborhoods and founded an interfaith pre-school and an Alzheimer’s clinic.

Douglas says he prays every day for his grandchildren, who still have their whole lives ahead of them. He’s also said that he doesn’t have a problem with his age because our world is a “catastrophe” and the older he gets, the closer he gets to God.

As the white-haired Hollywood star – the proud head of the Douglas clan – celebrates his 100th birthday on December 9, 2016, one question remains: Will he be blowing out 100 candles?




SOURCE:  Kirk Douglas‘ life is quite literally a rags to riches tale. The headstrong actor has sparred with Hollywood and survived a stroke – and is now turning 100.


Kirk Douglas as a boxer in Champion (Foto: Imago/Hollywood Photo Archive)

Distinctive features

Kirk Douglas always wanted to be an actor. But then he studied philosophy, chemistry and English literature. From a poor background, he financed his studies with the help of a boxing grant. He became known for being a fighter – like here in one of his early films, “Champion” (1949).

Kirk Douglas family picture (Foto: picture-alliance/universal studios)

Kirk Douglas Ace In The Hole (Imago /Entertainment Pictures)

‘Ace in The Hole’ (1951)

Here, Kirk Douglas plays an ambitious and self-centered reporter who does just about anything for a good story. Sacked several times for drunkenness, adultery and defamation, he gets wind of a sensational report when he comes across an accident, while obstructing rescue operations. The film was superbly directed by Billy Wilder.

Kirk Douglas as Ulysses (Foto: Imago/United Archives)

‘Ulysses’ (1955)

Kirk Douglas gave one of his strongest performances in the Hollywood film “Ulysses” (1955). He found submissive roles extremely challenging, and even when playing the underdog, he always remained a rebel at the same time. In this film, he also had difficulties depicting a subservient character: His nature as a fighter quickly won the upper hand. He often bullied the directors.

Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh (Foto: Hollyood Photo Archive)

‘Lust for Life’ (1956)

In 1956, Kirk Douglas was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (“Lust for Life”), but did not win the award. With incredible passion and drama, Douglas played the desperate and lunatic painter who cut off one of his ears towards the end of his life. It was a role that demanded everything that Douglas was able to give.

Kirk Douglas in 'Last Train from Gun Hill' (Foto: Imago/AD)

‘Last Train from Gun Hill’ (1959)

Hollywood loved him in the role of tough Western heroes and daredevils. However, such roles could not satisfy him, as they only reflected one part of his personality. After all, Kirk Douglas also had a more serious side. He was even religious, although he discovered his Jewish roots only late in life – following a stroke.

Kirk Douglas in Spartacus

‘Spartacus’ (1960)

This role was one of the most physically demanding ones in his entire film career. Even though he was very well trained, Douglas found it very exhausting to play the main character in the historical drama “Spartacus.” This Hollywood film featuring the biggest slave rebellion against the Roman Empire became a big success, and has remained a classic in film history.

Kirk Douglas and Gena Rowlands (Foto: picture-alliance/United Archives/IFTN)

‘Lonely Are The Brave’ (1961)

According to Douglas, this was his most important film. Although he tended to work in a team, he remained a lone warrior throughout his life. He discovered the law of the streets as a young child. The poverty of his Russian-Jewish family continued to serve as a protective shield against the luxurious and glamorous world of Hollywood that he always considered a false illusion.

Kirk and Michael Douglas (Getty images / AFP/ A. Sanchez-Gonzalez)

Passing on his talents

His son Michael Douglas followed his footsteps not only as an excellent actor, but, much to the joy of his father, also as a director and producer of outstanding films. All four sons of Kirk Douglas are working in film and the media. In 1975, Kirk performed on the stage in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” – directed by his son Michael.

Kirk Douglas with his wife Anne Buydens 2012 (Foto: Imago/stock&people/Unimedia Images)

A loving couple – until today

His wife Anne Buydens was born in Germany and emigrated to the US. Kirk Douglas has been married to his second wife since 1954, and they’ve been through all the ups and downs of life. Since his stroke in 1995, Anne is doing her best to help him recover. They have two sons together, Peter and Eric Anthony.

Kirk Douglas 2014 in Beverly Hills (Foto: picture alliance/AP Images/M. Sayles)

A strong personality

Kirk Douglas has always remained a strong personality. He certainly doesn’t like to be told what to do. As he wrote in one of his countless biographies, as the nameless son of a Jewish scavenger, he is “damn proud” of having become a highly paid Hollywood star and film producer. And he has always remained humble-minded in the face of so much “undeserved” luck.

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