|Kirk Douglas on the set of "Cactus Jack" (1979).|
Kirk is the son of Russian Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mogilev Region, in the Russian Empire (now Belarus). He was born in Amsterdam, New York to a poor family which included six sisters. He grew up speaking Yiddish. His family changed its last name to Demsky when he was a child, and he again changed it legally to Kirk Douglas (his stage name) shortly before entering the Navy during World War II.
After attending St. Lawrence University, Kirk received a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. There, he met Lauren Bacall. Before he could do much acting, though, he enlisted in the US Navy right after Pearl Harbor. He served honorably and was discharged in 1944 on account of war injuries.
|Kirk Douglas with Walt Disney during the filming of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954).|
Kirk spent most of the 1950s playing tough guys. He quickly learned the Hollywood game and formed his own production company, Bryna Productions. His string of high profile roles, which began with "Champion" in 1949, turned Douglas into one of the top stars of the 1950s.
|Kirk Douglas in "Ace in the Hole" (1951).|
- Lust for Life (1956)
- Paths of Glory (1957)
- Spartacus (1960)
- Lonely are the Brave (1962)
|Kirk accepting his honorary Oscar in 1996.|
|Kirk Douglas in "Young Man with a Horn" (1950) with Lauren Bacall.|
With Douglas' initial donation of $15 million, the Motion Picture & Television Fund in Woodland Hills announced plans to build a two-story $35 million Alzheimer’s facility which will be named the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion. It will be able to take care of upwards of 80 industry members with that disease. The new unit is expected to break ground in late 2016. It will be built above an earlier unit, Harry's Haven, previously built by Douglas and named after his father.
|Kirk with son and daughter-in-law on his 99th birthday in 2015.|