Kirk Douglas, who died on Wednesday at 103, was a Jew who Anglicized his name and became one of Hollywood’s top movie stars, then found his way back to Judaism relatively late in life, embracing it with a vengeance after he survived a helicopter crash. But his Jewishness helped guide him throughout his career. He was born Issur Danielovitch in an era when even the most all-American actors were required to change their names to shorter, catchier monikers. A mainstream career with a Jewish name was simply not an option, and even before he headed for Hollywood, he changed his name. While in acting school, he briefly dated a young Jewish woman who would also become a Hollywood legend using a non-Jewish-sounding name, Lauren Bacall.
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