This is an expanded version of a piece of research I did a few years ago.  Some of the bio information and all of the photos was copied from WIKIPEDIA—

I have been doing research on prominent ND folks in various fields with an emphasis on those from ye olden days and those who were not well known to be connected to ND.  Often I learned of these folks serendipitously.  My list of Notre Dame actors contains a lot of “I know that guy but never knew his name” people.  When I watch old movies, I often check on IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) which is another excellent site for learning about figures in the movies.


Frank Campeau


Frank Campeau

Campeau as General Philip Sheridan
inAbraham Lincoln, 1930


December 14, 1864

Detroit,Michigan, U.S.


November 5, 1943(aged78)

Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, U.S.





Frank Campeau (December 14, 1864 – November 5, 1943) was an American actor. He appeared in 93 films between 1911 and 1940 and made many appearances in films starring Douglas Fairbanks.

On Broadway, Campeau appeared in Rio Grande (1916), Believe Me Xantippe (1913), The Ghost Breaker (1913), and The Virginian (1904).[1] Campeau's screen debut came in the one-reel western film Kit Carson's Wooing.[2]

He was born in DetroitMichigan,[2] and died in the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.  

Frank spent six years at Notre Dame, from ages 9-11 and 14-16.  He was a descendant of one of the pioneering families of Detroit.  One of his relatives, “Count” Campau (another spelling of the name) was the Player’s League home run champion in 1890.

Ed Piel was a guard on the 1901 Notre Dame Football team.  The Scholastic indicated that a December 1901 talk he gave, as a member of the St. Joseph’s Literary Society was “well rendered”.  After beginning as a druggist he headed off to Hollywood and the nascent film industry, where he would appear in nearly 400 movies!  He was a character actor, often uncredited.  Peil played “Evil Eye”, in “Broken Blossoms”, a 1919 D.W. Griffith silent movie and the first United Artists production.  Peil was the fifth lead, behind Lilian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp, and Arthur Howard.    


He played a lot of Chinese roles.  He was in a lot of Westerns, often as the “brains heavy”… This is the guy (according to Wikipedia) who “issued the orders to his henchmen…often wears a suit, and pretends to be an upright, lawful member of the community.  He usually had little to do until the last chapter except talk, snarl, or grimace”.  Peil was in the 1933 serial, “The Three Musketeers”, which also featured John Wayne.  Peil played Sam Houston in 1937’s “Heroes of the Alamo”.  Charles Anderson’s “Old Corral” website points out that Ed was in Frank Capra’s 1938 film “You Can’t Take it With You”.  Near the end of the movie, a balding Peil appears, carrying one end of a sofa, helping the Sycamores move out of their home.  One of Peil’s final roles was “Gnarled Worker” in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1949 film “Samson and Delilah”.


Peil in a scene fromBlue Steel


(1883-01-18)January 18, 1883


Ford Sterling was the original “Chief of the Keystone Cops”.  At ND, as George Stitch, he was a fine interhall football and baseball player.  He appeared in nearly 300 movies.

Ford Sterling



Nov. 3, 1882
La Crosse
La Crosse County
Wisconsin, USA


Oct. 13, 1939
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Actor. He is remembered for his work with Keystone Studios in Edendale, California and was the original chief of the ever popular fictional bumbling police unit The Keystone Cops. Born George Ford Stich, Jr. he ran away from home at a young age to join the circus and also performed on Mississippi River show boats. In 1905 he got his start on the stage in the play "Breaking Into Society." He then moved to California and in 1911 began his career in silent films with Biograph Studios. After director Mack Sennett left to set up Keystone Studios, he followed him and there he performed as 'Chief Teeheezel' in the Keystone Cops series of slapstick comedies in a successful career that spanned twenty-five years. In 1914 he co-founded the Sterling Film Company with director and cinematographer Fred J. Balshofer. A prolific actor, he appeared in over 275 films during his career, most notably "Tango Tangle" (1914), "Between Showers" (1914), and "The Show Off" (1926). His last film was "The Headline Woman" (1935, with Heather Angel). He died from a heart attack at the age of 55 following a long battle with diabetes. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to films. He was married to actress Teddy Sampson until his death.(bio by:William Bjornstad)




Added by: Anonymous


Began his career as a circus clown.  Performed on Mississippi River show boats.  Harold Lloyd called Sterling "the funniest man in movies".  Was an accomplished photographer, painter, sculptor and cartoonist.  Was considered one of America's leading artistic photographers by critics on both sides of the Atlantic.  Raised German Shepherds, Scotties, and Persian cats.  Owned a villa in Nice, France.  Would travel yearly to England to buy clothes.  Was called "the best dressed man in Hollywood".

Charles Butterworth was well-known for possessing a quick wit, while an ND student.  He was later considered one of the most clever writers in Hollywood, known for rewriting many of the scripts he read.

Charles Butterworth

Charles Butterworth inSecond Chorus(1940)


(1896-07-26)July 26, 1896
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.


June 14, 1946(1946-06-14) (aged49)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Causeof death

automobile accident

Resting place

St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park,Granger, Indiana


Charlie Butterworth


Stage and film actor




Ethel Kenyon (February 1932-1939)


Charles Edward Butterworth (July 26, 1896 – June 13, 1946) was an American actor specializing in comedy roles, often in musicals. [Butterworth's distinct voice was the inspiration for the Cap'n Crunch commercials from the Jay Ward studio. Voice actor Daws Butler based Cap'n Crunch on the voice of Butterworth.  Butterworth was born to a physician in South Bend, Indiana. He graduated from University of Notre Dame with a law degree (Note:  In those days, you could receive an undergraduate “law degree”). 

After graduating, Butterworth became a newspaper reporter in South Bend and subsequently Chicago. 

One of Butterworth's more memorable film roles was in the Irving Berlin musical This is the Army (1943) as the bugle-playing Private Eddie Dibble. He generally was a supporting actor, though he had top billing in We Went to College (1936), played the title role in Baby Face Harrington (1935), and shared top billing (as the Sultan) with Ann Corio in The Sultan's Daughter (1944). In his obituary, he is described as "characterizing the man who could not make up his mind".

He is credited with the quip "Why don't you slip out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?" from Every Day's a Holiday.[3] In Forsaking All Others, when Clark Gable, quoting Benjamin Franklin, said, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise," Butterworth replied, "Ever take a good look at a milkman?"

Butterworth was killed in an automobile accident on June 13, 1946, when he lost control of his car on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and crashed. He died en route to the hospital.

A master at playing diffident, absent minded, middle-aged bachelors, American actor and Notre Dame alumnus Charles Butterworth was an established Broadway musical comedy star when he made his first film, Life of the Party (1930). Butterworth's heyday was in the 1930s, when he appeared as either the hero's silly best friend or a besotted society twit in one film after another. An offscreen drinking buddy of such literary wits as Robert Benchley and Corey Ford, Butterworth became so famous for his dry quips and cynical asides that Hollywood screenwriters began writing only fragmentary scripts for him, hoping that the actor would "fill in the blanks" with his own bon mots. Butterworth hated this cavalier treatment, complaining "I need material as much as anyone else!" By the early 1940s, material of all sorts began running thin, and Butterworth was accepting assignments at such lesser studios as Monogram and PRC, with the occasional worthwhile role in A-films like This Is the Army (1943). Two years after completing his last picture, Dixie Jamboree (1946), the still relatively youthful Butterworth was killed in an automobile accident. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi 

NOTE:  There was some speculation about his death.  One version had it caused by drunk driving, as he was part of a high-living crowd.  Another version had it as a quasi-suicide because of despondency over a fading career and his grief over the recent death of his close friend Benchley.  The accident was on Sunset Boulevard.  When I worked for the L.A. Sheriff’s Department I did both vehicle and foot patrol on Sunset Boulevard.  At the time of his death, Butterworth was dating Natalie Schafer.  Recognize the name?  She was Mrs. Thurston B. Howell, on “Gilligan’s Island”.  Who played the multi-millionaire Howell?  Jim Backus.  What high school did he attend?    Kentucky Military Institute, where I once taught and coached.  Ironically, Schafer herself was a multi-millionaire from real estate investing.

Butterworth, while starring in the musical comedy "Sweet Adeline," came down from Chicago to visit ND in 1929.  The Scholastic mentioned that he gave his famous "Rotary Club After dinner Speech." 

For his contribution to the motion picture industry he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7030 Hollywood Blvd.

Ralph Dumke* was born in South Bend.  He was an actor known for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956), “All the King's Men” (1949) and “Lili” (1953).  He had nearly 100 acting credits.  He had an uncredited role in one of my favorite movies, “Desperate Hours” (1955), starring Humphrey Bogart and Frederick March.

*My ND pal Dr. Dick Kiekbusch and I have formulated a LONG series of essays on “Nominal Determinism”.  Ralph Dumke is a classic case.  Ralph?  Dumke?  No potential as a leading man.  You can easily pick out all the Ralph Dumke’s of the world.  Selling shoes.  Your least favorite cousin’s first ex-husband.  You know the guy.


Walter O'Keefe (August 18, 1900 – June 26, 1983) was an American songwriter, actor, syndicated columnist, Broadway composer, radio legend, screenwriter, musical arranger and TV host.

O'Keefe was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He attended the College of the Sacred Heart in Wimbledon, Londonbefore entering the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana in 1916. At Notre Dame, he was a member of the Glee Club and a Class Poet. He graduated cum laude in 1921.  A note in The Scholastic indicated —“Walter O'Keefe, of the Notre Dame Glee Club, participated in a musical program given by the Knights of Columbus of Michigan City, Tuesday evening...Walter sang Irish songs and recited Irish stories”.

O'Keefe began as a vaudeville performer in the Midwest for several years.  In 1925, he went to New York and became a Broadway performer. By 1937, he wrote a syndicated humor column and filled-in for such radio personalities as Walter WinchellEdgar BergenDon McNeill* and Garry Moore.  (*I grew up listening with my mother to McNeill’s “The Breakfast Club”.  It was an extreme honor of mine to be appointed as a “young alumnus” to the Notre Dame Arts & Letters Advisory Council, in 1971, and find myself sitting next to Don McNeill.  Don’s son, Fr. Don McNeill, was a legendary C.S.C. Priest at Notre Dame.  It was one of the highlights of her life when I introduced my mother to Fr. Don.)  

O’Keefe became the long-time master of ceremonies of the NBC show Double or Nothing and was a regular on that network's Monitor series.  O'Keefe also worked in television, presiding over talk shows and quiz shows for the CBS network. Producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman hired him for their game show Two for the Money. When the show's usual host, Herb Shriner, had other commitments during the summer of 1954, O'Keefe took over for three months. He was the host for the first Emmy Awards ceremony, held on January 25, 1949 at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

O'Keefe was also a songwriter responsible for the musical scores of several Hollywood films. He introduced the very popular song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" in 1934, and it became permanently associated with him.  O'Keefe became addicted to alcohol, and sought treatment at the Sister Ignatia Group in Cleveland, Ohio during the late 1960s. He would later speak at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.  He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of radio. 

Joe Flynn had a name with much more potential than Dumke, but he had the same face.  Sorry, Joe.

Joe Flynn

Flynn as Capt. Binghamton onMcHale's Navyin 1963


Joseph A. Flynn
(1924-11-08)November 8, 1924
Youngstown,Ohio, U.S.


July 19, 1974(1974-07-19) (aged49)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Causeof death


Resting place

Holy Cross CemeteryinCulver City, California


Rayen High School
University of Notre Dame

University of Southern California






Shirley Haskin Flynn (married 1955-1974, his death)


Two children


Joseph A. "Joe" Flynn (November 8, 1924 – July 19, 1974) was an American character actor.  He was best known as Captain Wallace "Wally" Burton Binghamton ("Old Leadbottom") in the 1960s ABC television situation comedyMcHale's Navy.  He was also a semi-regular on “Ozzie and Harriet” and frequent guest star on many 1960s TV shows, such as Batman, and appeared in several Walt Disney film comedies. 

He was born to a physician in YoungstownOhio. Flynn was at ND for one year, before spending three years in the Army Medical Corps during World War II.  After the war, he moved west to pursue acting and to complete his education, majoring in political science at a private college in South Central Los Angeles. 

Jack Kissell (1952, ND grad) spent some time as an acting teacher before moving to California and appearing in a dozen roles.  His bigger claim to fame was as a leader in the Alcoholics Anonymous movement, where he was well known as a public speaker and sponsor.  Among his roles were “clerk”, “bellhop”, “janitor”, and “stage hand”.  Refer to Nominal Determinism.  


Brian Kelly…no, not that one………was an ND legacy student.  His dad, Harry Kelly, received his law degree from ND just in time to serve in the Army, during WWI.  Harry lost a leg at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, where he earned the French Crois de Guerre.  He had a 50 year career in public service, beginning as the State’s Attorney in his Ottawa, Illinois hometown.  After his father moved to Detroit, Kelly became an Assistant Prosecutor for Wayne County.  After a term as Michigan Secretary of State, he became the two term governor of Michigan, before finishing his career with 26 years as a Michigan Supreme Court Justice.  He had six children, including actor Brian Kelly.

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly, circa 1966.


(1931-02-14)February 14, 1931
Detroit,Michigan, USA


February 12, 2005(2005-02-12) (aged73)
Voorhees Township,New Jersey

Resting place

New Jersey






Laura Devon, m. 1962 - 1966 (divorced)
Valerie Anne Romero, m. 1973


Hallie (b. 1975)
Devin (b. 1980)


Brian Kelly (February 14, 1931 – February 12, 2005) was an American actor best known for his role as Porter Ricks, the widowed father of two sons on the NBC television series Flipper, and as Scott Ross in the ABCadventure series Straightaway, with co-star John Ashley.  Kelly served in the United States Marine Corpsduring the Korean War. Kelly graduated in 1953 from the University of Notre Dame in South BendIndiana. He attended the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor for a year before settling on acting. During his college years, Kelly modelled and acted in radio and television commercials in Detroit.  Kelly headed to Hollywood in the late fifties after choosing acting as his career. Following minor roles in Adventures in ParadiseThe Beverly Hillbillies, and The Rifleman, Kelly starred in two short-lived television series, NBC's 21 Beacon Street (1959), with Dennis Morgan and Joanna Barnes, and ABC's Straightaway (1961-1962) with costar John Ashley.

In 1964, Kelly was chosen to play Porter Ricks, Chief Warden at Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in the family-oriented action and adventure television program Flipper. Kelly is remembered today for his strong and convincing portrayal of a morally responsible single dad. Kelly was quoted at the time as saying that he loved the role because of its family-friendly qualities. The success of Flipper, which was filmed in Miami and the Bahamas, led to a brief movie career, including a lead in Around the World Under the Sea (1966).

In 1970, Kelly sought to change his image by playing the role of Robin Stone in The Love Machine, based on the novel by Jacqueline Susann. Just prior to filming, he was involved in a motorcycle accident which left his right arm and leg paralyzed. John Phillip Law took over the role. Kelly--whom Susann had called "the perfect Robin Stone"--won a legal settlement in the case but the accident ended his acting career.  He used money from the settlement to build homes and then to produce films. He served as executive producer of Blade Runner(1982) and associate producer of Cities of the Wild (1996).

Tony Bill is best known as the Academy Award winning Producer of “The Sting”, but began as an actor.  Early in my time (1963) as a Notre Dame student, I went to the movie “Come Blow Your Horn”, which was shown in Washington Hall.  

Bill began his career as an actor in the 1960s, first appearing on screen as Frank Sinatra's younger brother in Come Blow Your Horn (1963)---NOTE, only one year after his ND graduation. That same year, he also appeared in Soldier in the Rain starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen. Thereafter, he was cast as Chris Herrod in the 1965 episode "An Elephant Is Like a Tree" of the NBC education drama series, Mr. Novak, starring James Franciscus.

Bill specialized in juveniles and young leads. In the mid-1960s he made two appearances in the BBC's Play of the Month anthology series, he took the lead in Lee Oswald Assassin and played Biff to Rod Steiger's Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman (both 1966).  Often his characters were likeable but none-too-bright. Other acting credits include Marriage on the Rocks (1965), None but the Brave (1965), You're A Big Boy Now (1966), Never a Dull Moment (1968), How to Steal the World (1968), Ice Station Zebra (1968), Castle Keep (1969), Flap (1970), Shampoo (1975), Are You in the House Alone? (1978), Heart Beat (1980), The Little Dragons(1980), Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985), and Less Than Zero (1987).

Bill continued to act in television movies, miniseries, and guest spots though with decreasing frequency as he segued into directing. In 1965 Bill guest starred in "An Echo of Bugles," the opening episode of Rod Serling'sWestern series The Loner, playing a hot-headed young bully who taunts a Confederate veteran and challenges series star Lloyd Bridges to a duel. He appeared in the 1966 episode "Chaff in the Wind" of the long running western The Virginian. He was then cast in 1967 episode "The Predators" of NBC's western series The Road West starring Barry Sullivan. He also starred in a 1968 episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. titled "The Seven Wonders of the World Affair, Parts 1 and 2." He was also featured on an ABC movie called Haunts of the Very Rich (1972), and appeared in the 1977 miniseries Washington: Behind Closed Doors.

In 1980, Bill directed his first film, My Bodyguard. From there he went on to direct Six Weeks (1982), Five Corners (1987), Crazy People (1990), A Home of Our Own (1993), Untamed Heart (1993), Flyboys (2006) which Bill claims was one of the first features shot entirely with digital cameras. For television, Bill directed Truman Capote's One Christmas (1994), Harlan County War (2000), and Pictures of Hollis Woods (2007), among others.

In 2009, Bill published the book Movie Speak: How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set. The book traces the etymology of the language of the movie set and is filled out with stories from Bill's career in film.[1]

From 1984–2000, he co-owned with Dudley Moore the celebrated 72 Market Street Oyster Bar and Grill, a restaurant in Venice, California.

George Wendt (“Norm” in “Cheers”) went to ND, but did not wendt enough to class to last very long.  Apparently he spent a lot of his ND time wendt in preparation for his “Cheers” role.  When I lived in L.A., I was once in The Brown Derby Restaurant when George wendt in.  The bartender said “Hey, Norm, want a beer?”  I thought it was funny.  George had apparently heard it a few other times and was not impressed.



Richard Riehle’s television credits include Quantum LeapRoseanneMurder, She WroteL.A. LawAlly McBealBuffy the Vampire SlayerChicago HopeDiagnosis: MurderSabrina the Teenage WitchThe West WingERMarried to the KellysTremorsBoston LegalGrounded for Life (45 episodes) and The Young and the Restless. Riehle has also guest-starred on three of the five Star Trek television series.

I first noted Riehle in the terrorism movie “Executive Decision” in which he played an Airline Marshal.  It was a great film.

One of my all-time favorite Cowboy actors NEARLY made it in this Actors’ list.  Allen “Rocky” Lane’s Hollywood bio claimed that he not only attended ND, but played football there.  What a coup that would have been.  While Rocky was born in Mishawaka, there is no evidence he attended ND.  His biographer and I have done a lot of research on his early life.  Rocky’s final acting role was as the uncredited TV “voice” of Mr. Ed.  One of my bridge pals now lives in the home that Harry Albershardt (Rocky) grew up in.




Two VERY famous Actors were enrolled at Notre Dame and lived in our dorms, but were not actually Notre Dame alums.  They are what I call “tangents”.  During WWII, 15,000 Naval Officers were trained at the V-12 program on the Notre Dame campus.

According to the November 19, 1943 SCHOLASTIC, J. Cooper was the first platoon mail clerk, living in Dillon Hall.  His full name was Jackie Cooper and he was a famous child actor, when he was enrolled in the V-12 program.  


Jackie Cooper

Cooper in 1956.


John Cooper Jr.

(1922-09-15)September 15, 1922

Los Angeles, California, U.S.


May 3, 2011(2011-05-03) (aged88)

Santa Monica, California, U.S.

Resting place

Arlington National Cemetery






June Horne(m. 1944–1949; divorced)
Hildy Parks(m. 1950–1951; divorced)
Barbara Rae Kraus(m. 1954–2009; her death)



John Cooper Jr. (September 15, 1922 – May 3, 2011) was an American actor, television director, producer, and executive. He was a child actor who made the transition to an adult career. Cooper was the first child actor to receive an Oscar nomination.[1] At age nine, he was also the youngest performer to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, an honor that he received for the film Skippy (1931).[2] For nearly 50 years, Cooper remained the youngest Oscar nominee in any category. 

John Cooper Jr.[3] was born in Los AngelesCalifornia. Cooper's father, John Cooper, left the family when Jackie was two years old and the two never reunited.[4][5][6] His mother, Mabel Leonard Bigelow (née Polito), was a stage pianist.[7] Cooper's maternal uncle, Jack Leonard, was a screenwriter, and his maternal aunt, Julie Leonard, was an actress married to director Norman Taurog. Cooper’s stepfather was C.J. Bigelow, a studio production manager.[4] His mother was Italian American whose surname was changed from "Polito" to "Leonard." Cooper was told by his family that his father was Jewish. 


Cooper as he appeared in the film Broadway to Hollywood, 1933

Cooper first appeared in films as an extra with his grandmother, who took him to her auditions hoping it would help her get extra work. At age three, Jackie appeared in Lloyd Hamilton comedies under the name of "Leonard". 

Cooper graduated to bit parts in feature films such as Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and Sunny Side Up. His director in those films, David Butler, recommended Cooper to director Leo McCarey, who arranged an audition for the Our Gang comedy series produced by Hal Roach. In 1929, Cooper signed a three-year contract after joining the series in the short Boxing Gloves. He initially was to be a supporting character in the series, but by early 1930 his success in transitioning to sound films enabled him to become one of Our Gang's major characters. He was the main character in the episodes The First Seven Years and When the Wind Blows. His most notable Our Gang shorts explore his crush on Miss Crabtree, the schoolteacher played by June Marlowe. His Our Gang shorts included Teacher's PetSchool's Out, and Love Business.[4]


Cooper, then a member of Our Gang, flirts with schoolteacher Miss Crabtree in School's Out, 1930

Cooper, under contract to Hal Roach Studios, was loaned in the spring of 1931 to Paramount to star in Skippy,directed by his uncle, Norman Taurog. For his work in Skippy Cooper was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, the youngest actor, at age nine, to be nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor. Although Paramount paid Roach $25,000 for Cooper's services, Roach paid Cooper only his standard salary of $50 per week.[4]

He was dismissed from the program after being charged with contributing to the delinquency of a 15-year-old local girl during a drinking party at a hotel in downtown South Bend, according to Tribune news archives.  He was acquitted by a judge who announced "There are two types of girls in this world: those who cannot be picked up by strangers, and those who can. If all girls were of the former variety, cases such as this would never occur," (Can you imagine the howls if a judge made a statement like this today!)  

Strangely, Cooper was permitted to enroll at Great Lakes, where he graduated as an Ensign.  His military service consisted of playing the drums in the Navy Liberation Band, in the South Pacific.  He served in the Naval Reserves until 1982, rising to the rank of Captain.  He and Glenn Ford were the second highest ranking military officers of all actors.  Jimmy Stewart was the only person to achieve a higher rank.  Cooper declined a promotion to Rear Admiral, because he would not accept a transfer to the Pentagon which would be required!  His military specialty was in recruitment.  In his later years, his movie career began anew, starring as a Naval Doctor on a TV show (“Hennessey”) which he also produced and directed.  

Later he played Perry White, Editor of the Daily Planet, on “Superman” movies.  

The other actor who took his Naval Training at ND was a bit more famous.  Izzy Demsky!  Better known as Kirk Douglas.Attachment.png

Kirk Douglas

Douglas c. 1955


Issur Danielovitch

(1916-12-09) December 9, 1916(age102)

Amsterdam, New York,U.S.


Los Angeles, California, U.S.


Izzy Demsky
Isador Demsky


  • Actor
  • producer
  • director
  • author
  • soldier



Political party



Diana Douglas
(m.1943; div.1951)


Anne Buydens(m.1954)


Michael(b. 1944)
Joel(b. 1947)
Peter(b. 1955)

Military career


United States of America


United States Navy

Yearsof service





World War II




Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916) is a retired American actor, filmmaker, and author. A centenarian, he is one of the last surviving stars of the film industry's Golden Age.[2] After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers(1946) with Barbara Stanwyck and Lizabeth Scott. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war movies. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 movies. Douglas is known for his explosive acting style, which he displayed as a criminal defense attorney in Town Without Pity (1961). 

Douglas became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Other early films include Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris DayAce in the Hole opposite Jan Sterling (1951), and Detective Story (1951), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Drama. He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and his third nomination for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), which landed him a second Golden Globe nomination. 

In 1955, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). In those two films, he collaborated with the then-relatively-unknown director Stanley Kubrick taking lead roles in both films. Douglas has been praised for helping to break the Hollywood blacklistby having Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus with an official on-screen credit.[3] He produced and starred in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), considered a classic, and Seven Days in May (1964), opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a story that he purchased and later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film

As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas has received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he has written ten novels and memoirs. He is No. 17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, the highest-ranked living person on the list. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he has focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lives with his second wife (of 65 years), Anne Buydens, a producer. 

Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch (Yiddish: איסר דניאלאָוויטש‎; Belarusian: Ісур Данілавіч) in Amsterdam, New York, the son of Bryna "Bertha" (née Sanglel; 1884–1958) and Herschel "Harry" Danielovitch (c. 1884–1950; citations regarding his exact year of birth differ).[4][5][6] His parents were Jewish immigrants from ChavusyMogilev Region, in the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus),[7][8][9][10][11][12] and the family spoke Yiddish at home.[13][14][15]

His father's brother, who immigrated earlier, used the surname Demsky, which Douglas's family adopted in the United States.[16]:2 Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the United States Navy during World War II.[17][a]

In his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman's Son, Douglas notes the hardships that he, along with six sisters and his parents, endured during their early years in Amsterdam, New York

My father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got himself a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal, and junk for pennies, nickels, and dimes.... Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. And I was the ragman's son.[4]



There is a great photo of Douglas, in the yearbook from his time at Notre Dame, but I am unable to copy it.  This above photo is from a film role.

My final entry is a tangent to a tangent.  

Notre Dame had a GREAT football player in the 50’s, named Frank Varrichione.  


He acquired the nickname “Frank the Actor” for taking a couple dives in the 1953 football game versus Iowa.  This unethical maneuver (not uncommon in those days) stopped the clock, at the end of each half, enabling ND to tie the Hawkeyes, 14-14.  Later, when Frank was playing with the L.A. Rams, his brother in law, Dick Durock, came out from South Bend live with him.  Because he was a big hulking guy, Durock got some film work as a stunt man.  Later, he became the “star” of one of my favorite cult-like shows—“Swamp Thing”.


Durock appeared in more than 700 films and TV shows.  The 6’6 ex-Marine told how he found work in the stunt business through old-fashioned networking.  “I came out to California.  Met a guy that knew a guy that knew another guy that knew a stuntman.  He introduced me to the stuntman, and he told me about a gym in Santa Monica where a lot of the professional stuntmen worked out.”




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