Kirk Douglas Net Worth

How much was Kirk Douglas worth?

Net Worth:$61 Million
Profession:Professional Actor
Date of Birth:December 9, 1916
Country:United States of America
1.75 m

With chiseled features, cleft chin, and unmistakable clenched-jawed voice, Kirk Douglas is one of the most recognizable stars in the world, a veteran of 74 films in over 62 years. Whether he played a gunfighter, an attorney, a soldier, an artist, a reporter, or a sailor, Douglas brought strength and tenacity to every role, qualities also evident in his personal life.

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Who Is Kirk Douglas

In addition to being an actor, the multi-talented Douglas was also a director, producer, philanthropist, and writer. He began his acting career in the 1940s with the movie “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” from 1946 being his first. Throughout his 60+ years long career, the actor starred in more than 90 films of all genres. His career skyrocketed in the late 20th century.

Shortly after he established the Bryna Productions, Kirk Douglas not only starred but produced many commercially successful films such as “Paths of Glory”, “Spartacus”, “Lonely Are the Brave”, and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Thanks to his outstanding performances, he has received many nominations for awards like Academy, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Emmys.

Kirk Douglas had a net worth of $61 million dollars at the time of his death, in 2020. He is also notably the father of Michael Douglas.

How did Kirk Douglas earn his net worth?

The thing that made Kirk Douglas so rich was his passion to succeed as an actor. After he joined the conservatory, Douglas continued to improve his skills. At the same time, he became close friends with Bacall’s friend Diana Dill, who would eventually become his first wife. Before fully focusing on the acting, Kirk Douglas joined the United States Navy during the World War II. He served mainly as the communications officer at the anti-submarine warfare – USS PC-1139. After the war ended, he returned back to New York where he focused his attention on different parts of the entertainment business.

First, he found work in various commercials, as well as radios, and theaters. Simultaneously with working radio programs, he took part in network soap operas. Thanks to his performances, he was noticed by George Abbot. Abbot offered Douglas a role in the 1943 Broadway play “Kiss and Tell”, in which he replaced Richard Widmark. The participation in the Broadway play opened a lot of doors for Douglas and he began receiving a lot more offers. Among some of them was “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” from 1946.

In the film noir drama, Kirk Douglas landed his first main role and it marked his debut screen appearance. Three years later, in mid-1949, the talented actor made his Broadway debut when he starred in Katharine Cornell’s “Three Sisters”. During the 1940s, at the beginning of his career, Douglas established himself as a tough guy and that was supported in many of his early roles. Also in 1949, he turned down an offer to star in “The Great Sinner”, which would’ve helped him earn three times more, and instead starred in what was his eighth film – the noir drama “Champion”, which amassed approximately $500,000 in the box office.

The Early Years

Born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, the only son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Kirk Douglas had six sisters. The family was poor, and “Izzy” sold snacks to mill workers and delivered newspapers.

He acted in high school plays, realizing early in life that he wanted to be an actor. He attended St. Lawrence University on a loan, and paid off his tuition by working as a gardener and a janitor. A top wrestler on the school team, he wrestled in a carnival one summer to make money.

He won a scholarship to the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where his fellow students included Lauren Bacall and a young actress named Diana Dill, whom he married in 1943. Izzy began using the name “Kirk Douglas” with his first job in summer stock and made his Broadway debut as a singing telegraph messenger in Spring Again (1941).

In 1944, after discharge for injuries during World War II, Douglas worked in radio and found Broadway success in the play Kiss and Tell.

He planned a stage career, but fate and an old schoolmate intervened. Hal Wallis was in search of new talent, and Bacall suggested that he look at Douglas in rehearsals for a play, The Wind is Ninety. After the play’s run, Douglas went to Hollywood

and was cast in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), playing against type as a weak man under the thumb of Barbara Stanwyck.

It wasn’t until his eighth role, as a self-involved, ruthless boxer in Champion (1949) that the Kirk Douglas persona was established, and he received his first Oscar nomination.

Stardom in the ’50s

By the 1950s, Douglas was a major box office draw. In 1951, he gave a powerful performance in the cynical, ahead-of-its-time film, Ace in the Hole, directed by Billy Wilder. His second Oscar nomination came for his role as a heartless user in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Other ’50s films included: 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Man without a Star (1955), Paths of Glory (1957), The Vikings (1958), and The Devil’s Disciple (1959).

It was as Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956) that Douglas reached his pinnacle as an actor; the role won him another Oscar nomination. and a Golden Globe Award. His passionate performance as Van Gogh, as well as his startling resemblance to the artist, hit all the right notes with audiences.

Continued Success

Douglas was in demand through the ’60s and ’70s, with films like Spartacus (1960), Town Without Pity (1960), Lonely are the Brave (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), and The Heroes of Telemark (1965), to name a few. For Spartacus, Douglas insisted that Dalton Trumbo, blacklisted during the Hollywood “Red Scare,” received screen credit, helping to bring about the end of the infamous blacklist.

In 1963, Douglas appeared on Broadway in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to which his family owned the rights, but he was unable to convince a Hollywood studio to produce the film. His son, Michael Douglas, finally made it in 1975.

By the ’70s, Douglas expanded into television, appearing in a miniseries, Arthur Hailey’s The Moneychangers (1976) and several TV movies. Film audiences saw him in the Jacqueline Susann potboiler, Once is Not Enough (1975), and the war film Victory at Entebbe (1976). He continued to appear in big- and small-screen productions, most notably Inherit the Wind (1988) for television with Jason Robards and Jean Simmons, and the film Illusion (2004).

In March 2009, Douglas starred in an autobiographical one man show entitled Before I Forget at the Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City, California. The four performances were filmed and edited as a documentary that was first screened in January 2010.

Personal Life

Kirk Douglas has been married twice. He and Diana Dill had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. The couple divorced in 1951. In 1954, he married Anne Buydens, and they had two sons, producer Peter Douglas and actor Eric Douglas. Tragically, Eric Douglas died of a drug overdose in 2004.

Douglas’ autobiography, The Ragman’s Son, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1988. He survived a helicopter crash in 1991, in which two people were killed. He began a spiritual quest, getting in touch with his Jewish heritage. A book, Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning, was published in 2001.

In 1996, the actor suffered a stroke, limiting his speaking ability. His remarkable recovery included therapy and a physical regimen, which included a daily, ten-minute workout and then swimming, jogging, and tennis. When challenged that ten minutes wasn’t long enough, he said, “You just follow me around and tell me if you think it’s a good workout.”

Douglas has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the US State Department since 1963, receiving the the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, the Jefferson Award in 1983, and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in France. He received the American Cinema Award in 1987 and the German Golden Kamera Award the same year. Although he never won for an individual performance, he received an honorary Academy Award in 1955. The American Film Institute honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. Douglas had a My Space account and was the world’s oldest celebrity blogger.

Why is he so famous?

Kirk Douglas is famous mainly because of his acting skills, as well as his love for the cinema. He was born with the name Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York. He changed his name legally before he entered the United States Navy during World War II. Born to Jewish immigrants from the small town of Chavusy, Russian Empire, long before he became famous and successful, Douglas had a rough and unhappy childhood, mainly because of his father who was an alcoholic and physically abusing.

During his childhood, Douglas was intrigued by acting and found himself reciting several poems such as “The Red Robin of Spring” while he was in kindergarten. After his reciting received applause, he became more and more interested in pursuing an acting career. In 1939, after he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the St. Lawrence University, Douglas was noticed by the performing acts conservatory “American Academy of Dramatic Arts” based in New York. Soon, he was given a special scholarship and he also met Laurel Bacall, who would be an influential figure at the beginning of the actor’s film career.

What made hum so successful?

What makes Kirk Douglas so successful is his roles in several classics from the 20th century. At the peak of his career, in the 1950s, the actor began performing in more and more commercially successful films such as “Along the Great Divine”, Young Man with a Horn”, and “ Ace in the Hole”. At that time, he became a major box-office star who played opposite to some of the most iconic actresses of the Golden era.

In 1951, Kirk starred in the film noir “Detective Story”, which earned more than $2.8 million in the box office. Thanks to his outstanding act, Kirk received his first nomination for the prestigious Academy Awards in the category “Best Actor”. A year later, he starred in “The Bad and the Beautiful”, which also earned him a nomination in the same category. Throughout the rest of the decade, he continued to establish himself as one of the best actors by starring in the productions “Lust for Life”, “Paths of the Glory”, “The Viking”, and “A Man Without Stars”, among many others.

The distinguished actor’s career skyrocketed in the late 20th century. His roles in the likes of “Spartacus”, “Tough Guys”, “The Fury”, “Posse”, Saturn”, and “The Big Sky” helped him become not only rich but successful. His last role was in the French television mockumentary “Empire State Building Murders”, released in August 2008.

Throughout his 60+ years long career, the actor achieved a lot and won many awards. Outside of acting, he was highly praised for using his fame to help others. Both he and his wife traveled to over 40 countries as goodwill ambassadors as part of the U.S. Information Agency. For years, the philanthropist donated millions of his earnings to various organizations, non-profit causes, and treatment facilities.


Kirk Douglas was one of the most popular American actors of all time. A man of unrelenting energy and passion, he was among the most durable of Hollywood stars and a true survivor. As he said on his 90th birthday, “I survived World War II, a helicopter crash, a stroke, and two new knees.” He left out a heart attack and the three-pack-a-day cigarette habit he gave up in 1950. His many rich movie performances, from Spartacus to Van Gogh, have ensured his cinematic immortality.

Despite his “difficult” personality, the actor and philanthropist is considered to be one of the legends of the classic Hollywood cinema. During his illustrious career, Kirk Douglas found success not only in acting but also in writing. As an author, he was able to release ten novels and memoirs. Even now, he is considered to be one of the legends. At the age of 103, he still made history as not only becoming the highest-ranked living person until his death but also one of the last surviving icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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