“All children are natural actors, and I’m still a kid. If you grow up completely, you can never be an actor”
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916) is an American actor, producer, director, and author.
He is one of the last living people of the industry’s Golden Age. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war movies. During a 64-year acting career, he has appeared in more than 90 movies and in 1960 helped end the Hollywood Blacklist.
Douglas became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in “Champion” (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Other early films include “Young Man with a Horn” (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day; “Ace in the Hole” opposite Jan Sterling (1951); and “Detective Story” (1951). He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and his third nomination for portraying Vincent van Gogh in “Lust for Life” (1956).
In 1955, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as “Paths of Glory” (1957) and “Spartacus” (1960). In those two films, he starred and collaborated with the then relatively unknown director, Stanley Kubrick. Douglas helped break the Hollywood blacklist by having Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus with an official on-screen credit. He produced and starred in “Lonely Are the Brave” (1962), considered a cult classic, and “Seven Days in May” (1964), opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films.
In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, a story he purchased, which he later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film.
As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas has received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he has focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He turned 100 on December 9, 2016.