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December 9: Kirk Douglas

Lawrence Bush
December 10, 2009
Kirk as SpartacusKirk Douglas (Issur Danielovitch) was born in Belarus on this day in 1916. He grew up as Izzy Demsky and never legally changed his name. As the starring actor and executive producer of Spartacus (1960, directed by Stanley Kubrick), Kirk Douglas helped break the Hollywood blacklist by hiring and crediting Dalton Trumbo for the screenplay. The novel on which the movie Spartacus is based had to be self-published by Howard Fast in 1951, at the height of McCarthyism. “Its publication was made possible by hundreds of people who believed in the book and bought it in advance of publication, so that the money would be forthcoming to pay for its printing. The author wishes to thank these people with all his heart. He is also most grateful to the many people who helped with the preparation of the manuscript, with the editing of it, and with the design and manufacture of the book. He hopes that for some future edition, at a time when it would not subject them to danger and reprisal, to be able to name these people and extend personal thanks to each in turn.” —Howard Fast

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.