The Truth About Kirk Douglas's Real Name

Kirk Douglas lived to the age of 103 and was a certified Hollywood legend with a career that spanned seven decades — the bulk of his work being released in the 1950s and 1960s, as The New York Times reports. He appeared in classics like 1954's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and 1960's "Spartacus," according to Britannica. Douglas even received an honorary Academy Award in 1995 and the following year made a guest appearance on an episode of "The Simpsons" (per IMDb).

Douglas — who is also the father of actor Michael Douglas — was known for his charitable nature almost as much as he was for his acting acumen. Douglas and his second wife, Anne Buydens, gave millions of dollars to charities and even donated enough money to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles to purchase a surgical robot (via Biography).

Douglas died on February 5, 2020, and it's hard to imagine someone who lived such an incredible life having any regrets, but the accomplished actor mentioned one decision, in particular, that he wished he hadn't made.

Kirk Douglas wished he hadn't changed his name

The name Kirk Douglas is one most people know, but many people aren't aware that it's not the legendary actor's real name. He was given the name Issur Danielovitch by his Russian-Jewish parents. Before his birth, the Danielovitch family immigrated to America and went by the last name Demsky, as People notes. According to Britannica, for a time, Douglas also went by a different first name: Isadore.

When trying to break into showbiz, Isadore Demsky made a decision that so many aspiring actors have made over the years and opted for a stage name, choosing, of course, Kirk Douglas. In an interview with People in 2015, he considered his given name to be too unusual for Hollywood at the time.

"I wish I had kept it," he told People. "It's more interesting to keep your original name. But can you imagine that name on a marquee?" However, years later, Douglas's grandson would pay homage to the legendary actor's birth name by naming Douglas' only great-granddaughter Lua Izzy, in his honor.