• Issur Danelovitch Demsky, better known as Kirk Douglas, is an actor, author, and filmmaker.
• He has an estimated net worth of $60 million and is the father of actor Michael Douglas.
• He served in the US Navy during World War II and has been nominated for numerous awards.
• He starred in "Spartacus" which many consider his career defining role and ended the Hollywood blacklist.
• He is married to producer Anne Buydens and has returned to his Jewish roots.
Who is Kirk Douglas?
Issur Dianelovitch Demsky was born on 9 December 1916, in Amsterdam, New York City USA. He is an actor, author, and filmmaker, known for being one of the stars of the Golden Age of the film industry, the last survivor. He was a box office star throughout the 1940s to ‘80s, and appeared in over 90 films throughout his career. He has been nominated for numerous awards, and is cited to be one of the people who helped break the Hollywood blacklist.
The Riches of Kirk Douglas
How rich is Kirk Douglas? As of early-2019, sources inform us of a net worth that is at $60 million, earned through a very successful career in acting, considered one of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema. He is the father of actor Michael Douglas. All of his achievements ensured the position of his wealth.
Early Life and Education
Izzy is the son of Jewish immigrants from Belarus. He endured a lot of hardships in the US and had to do various odd jobs to help his family. During high school he discovered his passion for acting, but was unable to go to college due to tuition costs, but talked his way into enrollment at St. Lawrence University by working while studying at the school. His talents were later noticed by the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, which gave him a scholarship to help him study there. Even during college, most times he had no money, and could only dream of bringing his family to the city to see him perform.
Acting Beginnings and Rise to Stardom
Izzy Demsky legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before joining the US Navy during World War II, serving as a communications officer in an anti-submarine unit, but was discharged for war injuries in 1944. He returned to the city and started working in radio, theatre, and also found commercial work. He acted in soap operas, and then got his breakthrough in “Kiss and Tell” which led to other offers. He initially planned to remain as a stage actor, but was then contacted by his friend to star in the film “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” which became his debut big screen appearance. In 1949, he starred in “Champion” which earned him his first Academy Award nomination.
To gain more success in the industry, he decided that he didn’t want to become a modest actor, and started breaking his contracts to gain control over his projects. He starred in “Out of the Past”, and also made his Broadway debut in “Three Sisters”. In the 1950s, he became a major box office star, and appeared with many of the top actresses of the era, including in “Along the Great Divide”, “Young Man with a Horn” and “Ace in the Hole”. He also starred in “Detective Story” which was nominated for four Academy Awards.
The Golden Era
He continued to gain Oscar nominated projects in “The Bad and the Beautiful”, and in the major box office hit in “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”. He formed his own film company – Bryna Productions – and had to break contracts so that he could produce as well as star in his own films, but also began working a lot with then unknown director Stanley Kubrick. He played military men in numerous films, such as “Top Secret Affair”, and ‘Two Without Pity”, but also portrayed Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life”, and was nominated an Academy Award for his role.
In the 1960s he starred in the film “Spartacus”, which many consider his career defining role. He gave full credit to Dalton Trumbo who was on the Hollywood blacklist which effectively ended the blacklist. He then worked on a film version of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” which earned all five major Academy Awards, the second film to do so. He also had a lot of film projects with Burt Lancaster including “I Walk Alone”, “The List of Adrian Messenger” and “Tough Guys”. One of his last projects during the decade was “The Arrangement”, but which did poorly at the box office.
From the 1970s, Douglas continued to stay active in the industry, appearing in numerous television shows and making over 40 films. He directed “Posse” and starred in “The Man from Snowy River”, which earned numerous awards and critical acclaim. In 1988 he starred in the television adaptation of “Inherit the Wind” which won two Emmy Awards, and he also appeared alongside Michael J. Fox in the comedy “Greedy”. He underwent voice therapy after suffering a stroke in 1996, but returned to film “Diamond”. One of his last projects during this period was 2003’s “It Runs in the Family”, which included Michael Douglas and Diana Dill. In 2018, he made a rare appearance during the 2018 Golden Globes alongside daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones, and received a standing ovation when he presented an award, as it was his first major awards show appearance since the 2011 Oscars.
For his personal life, it is known that Kirk was married to actress Diana Dill from 1943 until 1951 – they had two children, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. Later on, he met producer Anne Buydens while acting in Paris, and they were married in 1954. They have been together for over 60 years and have two children, one of whom is producer Peter Douglas.
He mentioned in an autobiography that during his youth, he tried to forget that he was a Jew. Eventually, he returned to his Jewish roots after a near death experience in 1991, and tried to re-discover his spirituality. He later mentioned that it took him a long time to learn that you don’t have to be a rabbi to be a Jew.