Kirk Douglas

1916

Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born in Amsterdam, New York, in 1916. His parents, Bryna (Sanglel) and Herschel Danielovitch, were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mahilyow Voblast (now in Belarus). Although growing up in a poor ghetto, Douglas was a fine student and a keen athlete and wrestled competitively during his time at St. Lawrence University. However, he soon identified an acting scholarship as a way out of his meager existence, and was sufficiently talented to gain entry into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He only appeared in a handful of minor Broadway productions before joining the US Navy in 1941, and then after the end of hostilities in 1945, returned to the theater and some radio work. On the insistence of ex-classmate Lauren Bacall movie producer Hal

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