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Douglas' youth appeal

by: Emily Rebecca - Last updated: 2006-10-30

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas

Film legend Kirk Douglas will urge the world's youth to act quickly to save the planet at a United Nations (UN) Global Youth Summit later today.

The Jewish actor born Issur Danielovitch Demsky is deeply concerned about the environment and believes today's youth are the only people who can do something.

"Let's face it, the world is in a mess. I'm going to tell them they have to solve these problems. Can they do it? They can't do worse than we've done," said the 89-year-old to

Douglas will also urge world leaders to give more aid to Africa.

He explains, "It is suffering more than any other continent. I hope the United States will form a master plan to solve the problems of AIDS, hunger and poverty.

"I was there many years ago on a safari and I'm ashamed to admit I shot a lot of animals and had them mounted. One day I looked at these trophies and said, 'What the hell am I doing?' And I gave them all away."

Over recent years, Douglas has gone back to his Jewish roots and celebrated his second barmitzvah at the age of 83.

"I heard that in Jewish wisdom a man gets to live 70 years and then he starts to live all over again. So when I hit 83, I was 13 again and I had a second Bar Mitzvah. I really did feel that I was given a second chance because I was in a helicopter crash some years back. When I woke up in the hospital, I was in awful pain, but I felt so guilty because two young people had died. And I said, "why am I alive?" After my helicopter crash and my stroke, I think I began to think of other people. And then I began to study the Bible," he told

Once he renewed his interest in the bible, there was no stopping him as he also wrote a book which he told

"I wrote a book for children called "Young Heroes of the Bible" because I became very fascinated with the Bible. It is the greatest human drama. It has everything you can think of. And I wrote this book to try to get kids interested in reading the Bible. They'll see that there were kids like Abraham and Miriam and David who were heroes. Abraham as a young boy worked in his father idol shop and he broke all the idols. So far people have liked it, and I like writing."