Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema and American stage and film, film producer and author, Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch Demsky) was born this day, December 9, 1916. One of the last surviving actors from Hollywood’s “golden age”, he was born to Russian-Jewish ancestry a ragman’s son to become a bona fide superstar. His popular films include Out of the Past (1947), Champion (1949), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Vikings (1958), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), The Heroes of Telemark (1965) and Tough Guys (1986).
He is No.17 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time, making him the highest-ranked living person on the list. In 1996, he received the Academy Honorary Award “for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.”
Unknown to many, Kirk has long been involved in humanitarian causes and has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the US State Department since 1963. His efforts were rewarded in 1981 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 1983 with the Jefferson Award. Furthermore, the French honored him with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
More recognition followed for his work with the American Cinema Award (1987), the German Golden Kamera Award (1987), The National Board of Reviews Career Achievement Award (1989), an honorary Academy Award (1995), Recipient of the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1999) and the UCLA Medal of Honor (2002).
1902 – Margaret Hamilton (actress: The Wizard of Oz, The Anderson Tapes, Brewster McCloud; Maxwell House commercials; died May 16, 1985)
1909 – Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (actor: Ghost Story, Gunga Din, The Prisoner of Zenda, Accused, Catherine the Great, Scarlet Dawn; TV host: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Presents; died May 7, 2000)
1911 – (William) Broderick Crawford (actor: Ransom Money, Dark Forces, The Oscar, Last of the Comanches, Born Yesterday, All the King’s Men, Highway Patrol, King of Diamonds, The Interns; died Apr 26, 1986)
1916 – Kirk Douglas (Isadore Demsky/Issur Danielovitch) (actor: Greedy, The Secret, Oscar, Queenie, Tough Guys, The Final Countdown, The Chosen, A Gunfight, There was a Crooked Man, The Arrangement, The Brotherhood, In Harm’s Way, Seven Days in May, Spartacus, Lonely are the Brave, Paths of Glory, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Lust for Life, Ulysses, Young Man with a Horn, Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful; father of actor Mike Douglas)
1925 – Dina Merrill (Nedenia Hutton Rumbough) (actress: Suture, Fear, Caddyshack 2, The Sundowners, Butterfield 8, Operation Petticoat, Hot Pursuit; heir to Post cereal fortune)
1928 – Dick Van Patten (actor: Eight is Enough, When Things Were Rotten, WIOU, The Partners, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Mama, A Dangerous Place, Spaceballs, Westworld, Superdad, Son of Blob)
1929 – John Cassavetes (actor: Edge of the City, The Dirty Dozen, Rosemary’s Baby, Johnny Staccato; director: Big Trouble, Love Streams, Gloria, Opening Night, Faces, Shadows; died Feb 3, 1989)
1930 – Buck Henry (Zuckerman) (actor: Short Cuts, Grumpy Old Men, Eating Raoul, Catch-22, The Graduate; Emmy Award-winning writer: Ship of Spies, Get Smart [1966-67]; That was the Week That Was, To Die For, The Day of the Dolphin, What’s Up, Doc?, The Owl and the Pussycat, Catch-22, The Graduate; entertainer: The Steve Allen Show, The New Show)
1933 – Morton Downey Jr. (talk show host: The Morton Downey Jr. Show; actor: The Silencer, Revenge of the Nerds 3: The Next Generation, Driving Me Crazy, Predator 2; died Mar 12, 2001)
1941 – Beau (Lloyd III) Bridges (director, Emmy Award-winning actor: Without Warning: The James Brady Story [1991-92]; The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader- Murdering Mom [1992-93]; Harts of the West, Ensign O’Toole; The Fabulous Baker Boys, Married to It, Sidekicks, The Hotel New Hampshire, Norma Rae, Two Minute Warning, The Other Side of the Mountain, For Love of Ivy, The Red Pony, Sea Hunt; son of actor Lloyd Bridges, brother of actor Jeff Bridges)
1945 – Michael Nouri (actor: To the Limit, Danielle Steele’s Changes, The Hidden, Flashdance, Gangster Wars, Love & War, The Gangster Chronicles, Downtown, The Curse of Dracula, The Bay City Blues, Beacon Hill)
1953 – John Malkovich (Emmy Award-winning actor: Death of a Salesman ; Mulholland Falls, Dangerous Liaisons, True West, The Killing Fields, The Sheltering Sky, Places in the Heart, Of Mice and Men, In the Line of Fire, Empire of the Sun)