Douglas was born during World War I to poor Russian immigrant parents in upstate New York.
“My parents came from Russia and my original name was Izzy Danielovitch,” Douglas told PEOPLE in 2015. He changed his name to Kirk Douglas before pursuing a career in show business.
“I wish I had kept it,” he said. “It痴 more interesting to keep your original name. But can you imagine that name on a marquee?”
He joined the Navy not long after the U.S. entered World War II and served until he was medically discharged for injuries.
In 1955, Douglas showed disdain for the Hollywood studio system by forming his own production company, which he named Bryna Productions after his mother. He became one of Hollywood biggest box-office stars throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
After breaking his contract with Warner Bros. to form his own production company, Douglas starred in and produced such films as “Spartacus,” which the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo was hired to write, leading to the end of the Hollywood blacklist.
— City News Service
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