The famed actor of Paths of Glory and Spartacus fame was born Issur Herschelovich Danielovitch on 9 December 1916 in Amsterdam, Montgomery, New York. His parents, Herschel and Bryna Danielovitch, were Russian Jewish immigrants who adopted the names Harry and Bertha Demsky upon coming to the United States; they had come from the Belarusian city of Gomel. Douglas grew up being called "Izzy Demsky," and was one of seven children (he had six sisters).
He attended St. Lawrence University on student loans before getting into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in New York City on scholarship. It was during this time that he began using the stage name Kirk Douglas.
In 1941 he enlisted in the Navy. In 1943, he married former AADA classmate Diana Dill. (They would have two sons, including future Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, before divorcing in 1954.) After the war another AADA classmate, Lauren Bacall, would help launch Douglas' acting career.
He married Anne Buydens in 1954, and they had two sons. In 1991 Douglas was in a nearly-fatal helicopter crash and subsequently returned to his Russian Jewish roots, embracing the Judaism of his childhood. You can see whether or not you are related to Kirk Douglas by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.