Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch or И́сер Даниело́вич; December 9, 1916) is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. He is the father of Hollywood actor and producer Michael Douglas and is #17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time.
Douglas was born in Amsterdam, New York as Issur Herschelovich Danielovitch, to Bryna "Bertha" (née Sanglel) and Herschel "Harry" Demsky, a businessman. Douglas's parents, originally surnamed Danielovitch, were Jewish immigrants from Gomel, Belarus. His father's brother, who emigrated earlier, used the surname Demsky, which Douglas's family adopted in the United States. In addition to their surname, his parents also changed their given names in the American manner, to Harry and Bertha. Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky, although he never legally changed his name.
Coming from a poor family, as a boy, Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread. Later, he delivered newspapers and claims to have worked at more than forty jobs before becoming an actor. He found living in a family of six sisters to be stifling, "I was dying to get out. In a sense, it lit a fire under me." During high school, he acted in school plays, and discovered "The one thing in my life that I always knew, that was always constant, was that I wanted to be an actor."