Kirk Douglas

Born Issur Danielovitch Dec. 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, N.Y, Kirk Douglas grew up in poverty, escaping the ghetto via an acting scholarship.

After playing minor parts on Broadway, Douglas was cast in his first movie, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). Three years later, the cleft-chinned actor accepted the lead in Champion and netted his first Oscar nomination; Douglas earned his second nod for 1952's The Bad and the Beautiful. A third Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe came in 1956 with Lust for Life. By this time, he'd established his screen personae -- virile men whose bluster veils internal turmoil.

In 1960, Douglas produced and starred in his seminal film: Spartacus. Later works of note include Seven Days in May (1964), The Arrangement (1969), Saturn 3 (1980) and Tough Guys (1986). Douglas suffered a stroke in 1996 but returned to the big screen with Diamonds in 1999.