Legendary actor Kirk Douglas celebrates 100th birthday
Too often we start threads about death of legends but here is one we should celebrate.
Known for his iconic movie roles and charismatic persona, legendary actor Kirk Douglas has been in the spotlight since the 1940s. As the actor celebrates his milestone 100th birthday today (9 December).
Douglas was born as Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., on Dec. 9, 1916. His parents Bryna and Herschel Danielovitch were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mahilyow Voblast (now in Belarus). An exceptional student and a keen athlete, he developed an interest in acting after taking part in school plays. His skills were later honed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Just before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1941, Danielovitch legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas. Three years later, he was medically discharged due to war injuries.
After returning from World War II, Douglas started working in radio, theatre and commercials. He finally got his big break in Hal Wallis’ film “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946), opposite Barbara Stanwyck. His portrayal of a young, alcoholic man married to a domineering, older woman was widely lauded.
Following the rave reviews, Douglas' career took off and he worked in a number of films such as “Out of the Past” (1947, pictured), “Mourning Becomes Electra” (1947), “The Walls of Jericho” (194, “My Dear Secretary” (194 and “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949).
The actor earned his first Academy Award nomination for the film “Champion” (1949), in which he played a selfish boxer.
Douglas’ stature as a major box-office star was firmly established during the 1950s and 1960s. “Young Man with a Horn” (1950), “Along the Great Divide” (1951) and “Ace in the Hole” (1951, pictured), which won the Best Foreign Film Award at the Venice Film Festival and “Detective Story” (1951) were some of his memorable films from the early 1950s.
The actor received his second Best Actor Oscar nomination for “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952), which co-starred Lana Turner.
In 1955, Douglas formed his own film company, Bryna Productions. Named after his mother, it produced films such as “Paths of Glory” (1957), “The Vikings” (195 (pictured), “Spartacus” (1960), “Lonely are the Brave” (1962) and “Seven Days in May” (1964) — he starred in all of them.
The actor’s portrayal of Vincent van Gogh in Vincente Minnelli’s “Lust for Life” (1956) was well appreciated by critics. Douglas received his third Best Actor nomination at the Academy Awards.
The actor created history in 1960 when he worked with — and gave full credit to — screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the film “Spartacus” and thereby, bringing an end to the Hollywood blacklist — a practice which denied employment to screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians in the mid-20th century accused of supporting or having communist ties.
Apart from his numerous film roles during the 1960s, Douglas also starred in a Broadway production of Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1963. It was later made into a feature film, produced by Douglas’ son Michael Douglas. The movie, starring Jack Nicholson, won five Oscars in 1976.
The cleft-chinned actor was known for playing military men in many of his films such as “Town Without Pity” (1961, pictured), “The Hook” (1963), “Heroes of Telemark” (1965) and “Is Paris Burning?” (1966).
Do not let success go to your head and do not let failure get to your heart.