Issur Danielovich was born Dec. 9, 1916, to illiterate Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Amsterdam, New York. We’re reminded of that by the Jewish site forward.com.

Kirk Douglas. Photo by Angela George via Wikimedia Commons
But he became Kirk Douglas, and the rest is movie and American history.

Celebrity and other sites are gearing up for the star’s 100th birthday Friday, and the one-time Yiddish media monolith Forward takes a fond look backward:

“He grew up destitute, a ‘nobody,’ as he later put it, and he grew up resentful. First out of survival and then out of professional necessity, he tried to hide his roots, as he edged from Issur Danielovich to Izzy Demsky and finally to Kirk Douglas, a name he chose for himself after graduating from St. Lawrence University and embarking on his acting career.

“He moved to New York, got a scholarship to the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts, found himself on Broadway, and then was lured to Hollywood when a friend and fellow Jew, Lauren Bacall, who had preceded him there, passed his name to producer Hal Wallis.”

The party has already begun online:

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