Kirk Douglas was indeed one of a kind. His life story is one of a person who was raised in the United States of America – like so many other young Jewish children – dreaming of becoming a star in Hollywood. He changed his name and basically gave up his connection to Judaism at a very young age for his career. But later on in life, he came back to his Jewish roots. What is most interesting is how he retained and then strengthened a relatively weak connection to Judaism, and ultimately evolved into a major philanthropist for Jewish and Israeli causes.
Kirk Douglas was already an adult when the Holocaust and World War II took place. No Jew, and truthfully, no human being could not be moved by this singular world tragedy. Douglas was no different. One of his first roles actually involved a script that was dedicated to a story about the Holocaust. For many people of that generation, the natural response was to invest more and more effort towards building up the State of Israel. Douglas did this in many ways. But perhaps the way he portrayed Mickey Marcus, in the legendary true story, “Cast a Giant Shadow,” was his most memorable of all roles. Col. Mickey Marcus was a Jewish World War II veteran who was recruited by the Haganah. The emerging State of Israel was filled with dedicated young men and women who were willing to fight and give their lives to build up and defend the State of Israel. But they lacked someone with the experience who could lead a large group of people into battle and manage a coordinated attack on enemy positions. Mickey Marcus was the answer.
Mickey Marcus actually led some of the most audacious battles that led to the victory of the State of Israel against 5 Arab armies in Israel’s War of Independence. Kirk Douglas played Mickey Marcus perfectly. This definitely led to Douglas’ deepening his connection to the State of Israel for the next 6 decades till he passed away at the age of 103.