Legendary actor and producer Kirk Douglas has received an early 100th birthday present - an award from the World Jewish Congress for his strong support for Israel including starring in the first Hollywood feature film shot in the newly established nation.
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Ronald Lauder, the organization's president, said Douglas, who was born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916, was "always proud of his Jewish roots."
He pointed to Douglas' starring roles as a Holocaust survivor in the 1953 movie "Juggler," which was filmed in Israel, and as Jewish U.S. Army Col. David "Mickey" Marcus, who helped save the Jewish state in 1948, in the 1966 movie "Cast A Giant Shadow."
Oscar-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas accepted the award, telling more than 400 guests at a dinner at the Pierre Hotel that his father would be "so proud and so humbled," especially since the award is the first honoring the late Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, his longtime friend.
Douglas said his father's connection to Israel goes back to his childhood, and his dream is to see the country "peaceful and successful," a place where Arabs and Jews can live together.
At the dinner, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden received an award named for Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism who came to champion the quest for a Jewish homeland.
The award was presented by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said Biden "stands for the principles that will ensure survival of the Jewish people and the state of Israel."
Biden said he was certain U.S. support for Israel would not diminish under President-elect Donald Trump. Even if the new administration tried to reduce support, "Congress would never let it happen, the American people would never let it happen."