Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916 – February 5, 2020) whose Hollywood career spanned seven decades, has died aged 103. He was an American actor, producer, director, philanthropist and writer. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mogilev Region, in the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus), and the family spoke Yiddish at home. Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the United States Navy during World War II. The stage and screen actor was well-known for a range of roles, including the 1960 classic Spartacus, in which he played the titular character.
Douglas was prolific as a film actor, with more than 90 credits to his name – ranging from the 1940s to the 2000s. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he made 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, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war films. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 films. Douglas was known for his explosive acting style, which he displayed as a criminal defense attorney in Town Without Pity (1961).
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. His 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), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Drama. 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), which landed him a second Golden Globe nomination.
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 collaborated with the then-relatively-unknown director Stanley Kubrick, taking lead roles in both films. Douglas has been praised for helping to 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 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 that he purchased and later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film. He lived with his second wife (of 65 years), Anne Buydens, a producer, until his death. With his first wife he had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas, before divorcing in 1951.
My meories of Kirk Douglas is in his movies The Villain (with Arnold Schwarzenegger & Ann-Margret), Saturn 3 and the Tales From The Crypt episode “Yellow” – which I though was phenomenal acting.