Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the Navy during World War II.
Douglas enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II, where he served as a gunnery and communications officer in anti-submarine warfare on board PC-1139. He was medically discharged for war injuries in 1944. He was deemed too old for the Air Force, but accepted into the Navy. He discharged was due to chronic ameobic dysentary discovered when hospitalized due to abdominal injuries due to dropping of accidental depth charge.