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Old 12-09-2016, 07:46 AM   #1
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On the positive side.

So there is good news as well, Kirk Douglas celebrates 100th birthday today.

To honor the event he has detailed in an essay how his wife, Anna, has been the secret to his long colorful life. "I was lucky enough to find my soul mate 63 years ago, and I believe our wonderful marriage and our nightly “golden hour” chats have helped me survive all things," he wrote. "Anne and I always use these happy occasions to give presents to the institutions we support through our foundation. Giving is a selfish act, I maintain, because it makes you feel so good."

Kirk doesn’t receive gifts however on his birthdays, having decided the occasion should be viewed as a chance to give back to others instead. On his last birthday, the pair donated $15million to an Alzheimer’s treatment facility called Harry’s Haven, located just outside of Los Angeles who care for people who used to work in the movie or television industry.

He’s set to celebrate today his special birthday with a huge party attended by 200 of his closest friends and family, hosted by his son Michael and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta Jones. Beyond the numbers, Kirk has little knowledge of what to expect at his birthday bash – with surprises surely being lined up.

He was born Issur Danielovitch in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, to Jewish immigrant parents Herschel and Bryna, who had left Chavusy in the Mogilev region of the Russian Empire, which is modern-day Belarus. The Danielovitch family also had six daughters and lived in poverty with Herschel working as a ragman.

After enlisting in the US Navy in 1941, Issur changed his name to Kirk Douglas and was a communications officer in anti-submarine warfare during the Second World War until he was medically discharged because of injuries in 1944.

Douglas had attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City on a special scholarship, where two of his classmates were Diana Dill, who became his first wife in 1943, and Lauren Bacall, who helped to launch his film career. He and Dill had two sons together - actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas - before they divorced in 1951.

Douglas later married Anne Buydens in 1954 and they also had two sons together, producer Peter Douglas and actor Eric Douglas, who died in 2004. The star is known for his relationships with a series of famous women, including Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich.

Although he started his acting career in radio, theater and television, his friendship with Bacall led to him landing his first film role when she recommended him to director Hal Wallis for 1946 film The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers.

Best known for his roles in Spartacus (1960) and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954), Douglas earned his Oscar nominations for Best Actor in Champion (1949), The Bad And The Beautiful (1952), and Lust For Life (1956), but lost out on the trophy each time. He starred in a number of Westerns, including Along The Great Divide (1951) and Lonely Are The Brave (1962), as well as early Stanley Kubrick film Paths Of Glory in 1957.

Douglas has been credited with helping to put an end to the Hollywood Blacklist, where employment was denied to those working in the entertainment industry who had been accused of having communist ties, by publicly acknowledging former Communist Party member Dalton Trumbo as the screenwriter for Spartacus. In 1957 he won a Best Actor Golden Globe for Lust For Life, and in 1968 won the Cecil B DeMille Award at the Golden Globes for his outstanding contribution to the world of entertainment.

He made a Broadway adaptation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in 1963, which he also starred in before passing on the film rights to son Michael, and directed two Westerns - 1975's Posse, in which he starred with Bruce Dern, and the 1973 film Scalawag, where he also took a lead role.

Despite suffering a severe stroke in 1996 which affected his speech, Douglas went through years of voice therapy to get back into acting and starred in Diamonds in 1999 alongside Bacall, playing an old fighter recovering from a stroke.

The most recent film he appeared in was 2004's Illusion, about an ailing movie director, and in 2008 he featured in TV movie Empire State Building Murders. As an author, he has published 10 novels and memoirs, and his blog is hosted on the Huffington Post.
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:49 AM   #2
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My parents went to college went to college with him at St Lawrence University in Canton NY but I do believe they told me his real name was Izzy Demsky. What is the source of your information on his name?

Sadly, my parents are no longer around to wish him Happy Birthday.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:26 AM   #3
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Interesting story about your parents, thank you Donsan.

His parent’s original surname was Danielovitch, but they changed it to Demsky when they immigrated to the U.S. in 1912.

His father insisted on maintaining both surnames Danielovitch (historic family name) & Demsky for his son then Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch Demsky.

When Kirk Douglas first started acting on Broadway, he went by Isadore Demsky, then changed it completely to Kirk Douglas just before enlisting in the navy during WWII.

Sorry about your parents.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:39 AM   #4
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Thanks for posting. I was not aware he was still alive but have not seen a new movie with him acting in a long time so I figured he had deceased.

My mother took us to St. Lawrence University sometime in the late 50's and it was a beautiful campus at the time. I hope to visit again real soon now if you know I mean.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:16 AM   #5
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PS : Danielovitch means "son of Daniel" in Russian.

I love American actors, Kirk & Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Robert Redford, Monsieur De Niro, etc... far too numerous to mention !

Many famous people graduated St. Lawrence University. If I may ask, please share some pictures when you will visit there, American Universities are among the best in the world.
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