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Tony Curtis (1925-2010)


Tony Curtis
Tony Curtis


Tony Curtis was an American movie actor who, in a long career of over 60 years, made more than 100 films, playing a variety of roles ranging from light comedy to serious drama. His enduring fame rests particularly on his Oscar nominated performance in the movie drama 'The Defiant Ones' with Sidney Poitier and on his performance in the wonderful classic comedy 'Some Like It Hot' with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemon.

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Biography

He was born Bernard Schwartz on June 3, 1925 in the Bronx, New York, son of Jewish Hungarian immigrants Emanuel Schwartz, a tailor, and his wife Helen. He grew up with two brothers, Julius and Robert and spoke only Hungarian until he was five years old.

The family was extremely poor and when Curtis was 10 his parents had him and his brother Julius admitted to an orphanage for a few weeks. 3 years later, shortly before Tony's bar mitzvah, his brother Julius was killed after being hit by a truck. By this time the tough young Curtis had already joined one of the New York street gangs.

He was in the Marines for three years from 1942 and he witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. It was in the Marines that he got his first taste of acting in a stage play at the Navy Signalman School in Illinois and on his discharge, determined to become and actor, he studied at the Dramatic Workshop in the City College of New York with the German director Erwin Piscator.

He appeared in a number of stage productions including 'Twelfth Night' and was seen by theatrical agent Joyce Selznick who was the niece of film producer David Selznick. As a result the good-looking young man was offered a seven year contract with Universal Studios and after changing his name to Tony Curtis, (from the novel 'Anthony Adverse' by Harvey Allen and the family name Kertiz), the new young star was born.

His first movie appearances were walk-on roles in various 1949 B' movies such as 'City Across the River' and 'Johnny Stool Pigeon' in which he was credited as "Anthony Curtis". His first appearance of note was a short role in 'Criss Cross' in 1949 with Burt Lancaster, and the following year he was able to show he could act with a meatier role in the Western 'Sierra'. Also in 1950 he appeared in the big budget movie 'Winchester '73' with James Stewart.

During the following decades Curtis cemented his reputation as a versatile, dependable actor, able to tackle a wide range of roles and genres. He made movies with social relevance such as 'The Defiant Ones' in 1958 for which he received an Academy Award nomination, high quality adventure films such as 'The Vikings' in 1958 and 'Spartacus' in 1960, crime movies like 'The Boston Strangler' in 1968, in which he played the strangler of the film's title, and comedies such as 'Some Like It Hot' in 1959 and and 'Sex and the Single Girl' in 1964. He was renowned as an actor who did n ot like turning away work, and in between the good movies, it must be said, he appeared in a lot of very average and mediocre films.

Curtis also made many television appearances. For 2 years from 1971 he co-starred with Roger Moore in the series 'The Persuaders!' and in the late 1970's he starred in the series 'McCoy' and 'Vega$'.

Renowned throughout his career as a ladies man, Curtis always claims that the main reason he went into movies was to meet pretty girls. He has been married six times. His first wife was the actress Janet Leigh and lasted 11 years. They had two children, actresses Jamie Lee and Kelly Curtis. He then married in 1962 Austrian actress, Christine Kaufmann, the co-star of his film, 'Taras Bulba', with whom he had 2 daughters. The marriage lasted 4 years and he was then married to Leslie Allen, a model, from 1968 to 1982. They had 2 sons, one of whom, Nicholas, died in 1994 from a heroin overdose.

In 1984 he married his fourth wife, actress Andrea Savio, and they divorced in 1992 and the following year he married an attorney, Lisa Deutsch. They divorced after one year and he married his current wife, Jill Vandenberg, who was 42 years his junior.

Tony Curtis died at his Nevada home on September 29, 2010, of cardiac arrest. He was buried at Palm Memorial Park Cemetery in Green Valley, Nevada. He was 85.


Tony Curtis Academy Awards

No Wins:
One Unsuccessful Nomination:
Best Actor ... The Defiant Ones (1958)



Tony Curtis Filmography

1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
How to Smuggle a Hernia Across the Border
City Across the River
The Lady Gambles
Criss Cross
Johnny Stool Pigeon
1950
Woman in Hiding
Francis
I Was a Shoplifter
Sierra
Winchester '73
Kansas Raiders
1951
The Prince Who Was a Thief
1952
Flesh and Fury
No Room for the Groom
Son of Ali Baba
1953
Houdini
The All American
Forbidden
1954
Beachhead
Johnny Dark
The Black Shield of Falworth
1955
Six Bridges to Cross
So This Is Paris
The Purple Mask
The Rawhide Years
The Square Jungle
1956
Trapeze
1957
Mister Cory
Sweet Smell of Success
The Midnight Story
1958
The Vikings
Kings Go Forth
The Defiant Ones
The Perfect Furlough
1959
Operation Petticoat
Some Like It Hot
1960
Who Was That Lady?
The Rat Race
Spartacus
1961
The Great Impostor
The Outsider
1962
Taras Bulba
40 Pounds of Trouble
1963
The List of Adrian Messenger
Captain Newman, M.D.
1964
Paris - When It Sizzles
Wild and Wonderful
Goodbye Charlie
Sex and the Single Girl
1965
The Great Race
Boeing Boeing
1966
Chamber of Horrors
Not with My Wife, You Don't!
Drop Dead Darling
1967
Don't Make Waves
1968
La cintura di castità
Rosemary's Baby (voice) (uncredited)
The Boston Strangler
1969
Monte Carlo or Bust!
1970
You Can't Win 'Em All
Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
Lepke
1976
The Last Tycoon
1977
Casanova & Co.
1978
Sextette
The Manitou
The Bad News Bears Go to Japan
1979
Title Shot