Actor Kirk Douglas, known for his work in films like “Spartacus” and “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” turns 100 on Friday.
Born Issur Danielovitch to Russian-Jewish parents in New York, Douglas went on to become one of the 20th century’s most famous movie actors. Douglas first felt the rush of audience appraisal while reciting The Red Robin of Spring in kindergarten.
“Something happened when I heard applause. I loved it. I still do,” he wrote years later.
To improve his prospects as an actor, Douglas graduated from college in 1939 followed by film school in 1941.
Five years later his debut role in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946) was started to a career which has seen him star in more than 90 television and films.
He has said his favorite acting roles were in “Ace in the Hole” (1951), “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952), “Act of Love” (1953), “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954) and “Spartacus” (1960) among others.
In an attempt to resurrect his faltering Broadway career Douglas bought the rights to Kasey’s book “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1963 and had it rewritten for the stage.
Although the play was not a smash hit, Douglas’ passion for Broadway kept the show running for six months.
Despite his success as a Hollywood movie star, Douglas’ passion was for the immediacy of theater.
“On the stage, you give something to the audience, more comes back” he recently wrote before condemning the camera as a “cyclops” that leaves him feeling empty.
Nevertheless, it was that “cyclops” that made him a household name during the golden era of classic Hollywood films.
He last acted in the 2008 movie “Empire State Building Murders.”
Douglas has been married twice and has four children including eldest son Michael.
In 2003, three-generations of the Douglas family appeared in the film, “It Runs in the Family,” which included son, Michael, and grandson, Cameron. Kirk Douglas’ first wife Diana, mother of Michael, also stars in the film.