American actor Kirk Douglas, known for his work in films like Spartacus and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, turns 100 today.

Born Issur Danielovitch to Russian-Jewish parents in New York, Douglas went on to become one of the 20th century's most famous movie actors.

Dougles told Variety magazine that has admitted that he feels "lonely" having watched all his friends die before him.

Kirk Douglas has told Variety he feels
Kirk Douglas has told Variety he feels "lonely" in his old age. Photo/AP

"I am now 100 years old. I read about Hollywood, and I don't know the people. Where is Burt [Lancaster]? Where is Laurence Olivier? They're all gone. I miss them. I feel lonely," he said.

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He said he doesn't know who any of the stars in Hollywood are these days, obviously with the exception of his son, Michael, and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Douglas first felt the rush of audience appraisal while reciting The Red Robin of Spring in kindergarten.

"Something happened when I heard applause. I loved it. I still do," he wrote in a US publication years later.

To improve his prospects as an actor, Douglas graduated from university in 1939 followed by film school in 1941.

Five years later his debut role in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) was started to a career which has seen him star in more than 90 television and films.

He has said his favourite acting roles were in Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Act of Love (1953), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Spartacus (1960) among others. Kiwi actor Dean O'Gorman recently played the actor in 2015's Trumbo, which partally involved the making of Spartacus.

In an attempt to resurrect his faltering Broadway career Douglas bought the rights to Kasey's book One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest in 1963 and had it rewritten for the stage.

Although the play was not a smash hit, Douglas' passion for Broadway kept the show running for six months.

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Douglas would consider himself lucky to make his 100th birthday after a few near-death experiences.

His wife dissuaded him from getting on the flight in 1958 that killed Mike Todd, Elizabeth Taylor's husband, while in 1991 he was in a helicopter that collided with a private plane, killing two people.

Despite his success as a Hollywood movie star, Douglas' passion was for the immediacy of theatre.

"On the stage, you give something to the audience, more comes back" he recently wrote before condemning the camera as a "cyclops" that leaves him feeling empty.

Nevertheless, it was that "cyclops" that made him a household name during the golden era of classic Hollywood films.

Kirk Douglas arrives with his son Michael at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2012. Photo/AP
Kirk Douglas arrives with his son Michael at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2012. Photo/AP

He last acted in the 2008 movie Empire State Building Murders.

Douglas has been married twice and has four children including eldest son Michael, a leading Hollywood star.

In 2003, three-generations of the Douglas family appeared in the film, It Runs in the Family, which included son, Michael, and grandson, Cameron. Kirk Douglas' first wife Diana, mother of Michael, also stars in the film.