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Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch) was an American actor and filmmaker. After an impoverished childhood, he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war films. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 films and was known for his explosive acting style. He was named by the American Film Institute the 17th-greatest male star of Classic Hollywood cinema. Douglas became an international star for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other early films include Out of the Past (1947), Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day, Ace in the Hole (1951), and Detective Story (1951), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Drama. He received his second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and his third for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), which also landed him a second Golden Globe nomination. In September 1949, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). In those two films, he collaborated with the then-relatively unknown director Stanley Kubrick, taking lead roles in both films. Douglas has been praised for helping to break the Hollywood blacklist by having Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus with an official on-screen credit. He produced and starred in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), considered a classic, and Seven Days in May (1964), opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a story that he purchased and later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film. Douglas continued acting into his 80s, appearing in such films as Saturn 3 (1980), The Man from Snowy River (1980), Tough Guys (1986), a reunion with Lancaster, and in the television version of Inherit the Wind (1988) plus in an episode of Touched by an Angel in 2002, for which he was nominated a third time for an Emmy Award. As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas an Academy Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he wrote ten novels and memoirs. He ranked No. 17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, and was the highest-ranked living person on the list until his death. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lived with his second wife (of 65 years), producer Anne Buydens, until his death. A centenarian, he was one of the last surviving stars of the film industry’s ‘Golden Age’.
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