April 5, 2010
Michael Kirk Douglas, born in 1944, American film actor and producer, who won a best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of a ruthless entrepreneur in Wall Street (1987).
The son of actor Kirk Douglas, he made his feature-film debut in Hail, Hero! (1969). Douglas first achieved recognition for his acting in the television series The Streets of San Francisco from 1972 to 1976. He also produced the Academy Award-winning film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).
Douglas produced and starred in such films as Coma (1978), The China Syndrome (1979), Romancing the Stone (1984), and Jewel of the Nile (1985). Among his other films are Fatal Attraction (1987), Basic Instinct (1991), Falling Down (1993), Disclosure (1994), The American President (1995), and Wonder Boys (2000).
Kirk Douglas, born in 1916, American motion-picture actor and producer, famous for portraying tense, aggressively masculine characters whose bravado often masked inner turmoil. Born Issur Danielovitch (subsequently changed to Isidore Demsky, then to Kirk Douglas) in Amsterdam, New York, he graduated from Saint Lawrence University in 1938 and later worked his way through the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He appeared in several minor roles in plays on Broadway both before and after serving in the United States Navy during World War II (1939-1945).
Spotted by talent scouts, Douglas moved to Hollywood and made his film debut in the melodrama The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). He went on to play suavely menacing gambler Whit Sterling in Out of the Past (1947) and achieved stardom with an Academy Award-nominated performance as a self-destructive prizefighter in Champion (1949). He was also nominated for Academy Awards for his roles as a driven movie producer in The Bad and The Beautiful (1952) and as tortured painter Vincent van Gogh in Lust For Life (1956).
In 1955 Douglas formed his own production company. He later hired screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to write the script for his epic film Spartacus (1960). Trumbo had been blacklisted following accusations of involvement with the Communist Party (see Blacklist). Douglas’s other movies include The Big Carnival (also known as Ace in The Hole, 1951), Paths of Glory (1958), and Two Weeks in Another Town (1962). In 1995 he received a special Academy Award honoring his contribution to motion pictures in some 70 films. Active in a variety of civic and political causes, Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and the French Legion of Honor in 1985. He is the author of two novels and an autobiography, The Ragman’s Son (1988), and the father of Hollywood actor and producer Michael Douglas.