Celebrity Then And Now
Kirk Douglas
Name: Kirk Douglas
Birthdate: December 9, 1916
Famous Years: 1946-Present
Currently Known For: Retired Actor
Networth: $60 MillionFamous For: Spartacus, The Bad and the Beautiful, Lust for Life
Kirk Douglas
Name Kirk Douglas
Birthdate December 9, 1916
Famous Years 1946-Present
Currently Known For Retired Actor
Networth $60 Million
Famous For Spartacus, The Bad and the Beautiful, Lust for Life

One of those lines in movie history that will never be forgotten is “I am Spartacus!” The man that was responsible for delivering the famous line is now among the most legendary and longest working men in all of show business: Kirk Douglas. While younger fans might be more familiar with his son, Michael, Kirk had one of the longest careers that you could wish for as an actor, leaving behind many memorable roles.

Douglas was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York to parents that had moved from what is now Belarus to the small New York town. He was born as Issur Danielovitch, but took the family name Douglas when they arrived to the United States. Douglas didn’t come from money, and strove to one day be able to support his family by working odd jobs and eventually ending up in the military during World War II. Throughout his whole childhood, Douglas had dreamed up being an actor.

Douglas didn’t quite mean to be one of the biggest movie stars of all time, either. “I never wanted to be in movies. I always considered myself a stage actor. I started working in the Broadway stage,” he said. After working with actress Betty Bacall who moved to Hollywood, she had told casting agents to consider Douglas for work. Douglas met with agents and he was offered a contract for his first movie, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.” “I didn’t know what to do,” Douglas admits. “I needed the money, so I came to Hollywood.”

After making his first appearance in that 1946 film, Douglas would continue to be very busy, starring in seven more movies before the decade even came to an end. He concluded the 1940s with a role in “Champion” where he was nominated for his first Academy Award. He would receive two more nominations for Best Actor over the course of the next eight years thanks to his roles in “Lust for Life” and “The Bad and the Beautiful”.

Many of the roles that made Douglas famous come from playing the rough and tumble hero, but that’s not exactly Douglas’s own personality, he says. “I was not a tough guy. I just acted like one.” Of course, Douglas is remembered for these types of films that included “The Vikings” and “Paths of Glory”. The movie that always seems to stand out in Douglas’s resume, however, is 1960’s “Spartacus”.

The film was a huge risk for multiple reasons, as Douglas used a writer (Dalton Trumbo) that had been blacklisted as part of the government’s action of condemning those that supported communism. The film also came with a massive budget of $12 million. That sounds like peanuts these days, but would be equal to well over $100 million by today’s standards. The film would be a resounding success, as “Spartacus” made more than $60 million at the box office, and won a handful of Academy Awards.

Following the success of “Spartacus”, Douglas would go on to star in a wide range of movies over the next few decades. Some of his bigger hits in the post-”Spartacus” days included “Is Paris Burning?”, “The Fury” and “The Final Countdown”. Once the 1990s rolled around and Douglas got into his later years, his time on screen started to slow down considerably, though.

Much of that can be contributed to the fact that Douglas was involved in an accident in which a helicopter he was in collided with an airplane, which took away much of his focus. Less than five years later, Douglas would suffer a stroke that would damage his speech capacity, though he’s slowly been recovering in that regard ever since. Following his stroke, Douglas has only appeared in a handful of roles, including the films “Diamonds” (1999), “It Runs in the Family” (2003) and “Illusion” (2004).

Now over 100 years old, Douglas is one of the few that remain from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and appears to still be in good health and spirits, and having his son Michael come to visit for a few days each month certainly helps. “I never, ever thought I would live to be 100,” Douglas said. “That’s shocked me, really. And it’s sad, too,” as he laments far outliving many of his famous friends in Hollywood.

It’s now been over a decade since Douglas has made an appearance as an actor, but he still has a lot of money after a long career of being a Hollywood A-lister. He would have more than his estimated $60 million net worth if it weren’t for the fact that he’s donated more than $100 million through his charity during the years. “I have given most of my money away because that pleases me,” he said. “I was born a poor boy. My mother and father came from Russia; I don’t think they could have gotten into the country today, so I have a lot to be thankful for.”