Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tony Curtis – The Passing of a Movie Icon

The Early Years, an autographed snap-shot

......as an idol of the young

The Book Cover of his Memoirs, The American Prince.

The Familiar Image at its Heyday

His Starring Roles - Operation Petticoat

......Son of Ali Baba

......Sweet Smell of Success with Marilyn Monroe

.....Taras Bulba with Christine Kaufman

.....with Jerry Lewis

......with Rock Hudson

.....with Jack Lemmon, Some Like it Hot

His Family with his wife Janet Leigh

..... Janet Leigh again

... ...with wife Janet, daughters Jaime Lee and Kelly Lee

Later Years....

... autograph signing of his Memoirs at Border's in 1989

It is with sadness that I learned of the demise of Tony Curtis, a Hollywood great, who died of cardiac arrest on Sept 29, 2010 at age 85. He was born Bernard Schwartz in the Bronx, New York in 1925, of Hungarian-Jewish parentage. He was one of the biggest box-office stars of the 50’s and 60’s.

He acted in more than 140 films and was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of an escaped convict in The Defiant Ones ( for which he didn’t win and was disappointed at not having won any Oscars at all)

He was the contemporary of the big names of Hollywood, and had co-starring roles with Burt Lancaster (Trapeze - 1956), Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant (Operation Petticoat - 1959 , Kirk Douglas ( Spartacus – 1960 ) Sydney Portier ( The Defiant Ones - 1958) and Jack Lemmon ( Some Like It Hot - 1959)

His leading ladies among others were Marilyn Monroe ( Sweet Smell of Success - 1957) , Janet Leigh ( Houdini - 1953 ) and Christine Kaufman ( Taras Bulba - 1962)

He was equally adept not just in serious roles but also comedies. The 3 known comedies were Operation Petticoat, Some Like it Hot and Sex and the Single Girl.

His last major film role was in The Boston Strangler in 1968, for which he had expected an Oscar for a brilliant performance but didn’t.

He was married 6 times and counted Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood as near misses. His first wife was Janet Leigh, his co-star in Houdini ( married in 1951 and divorced in 1962) His second wife his co-star in Taras Bulba, Christine Kaufman was just 17 when they got married. (in 1963 and divorced in 1967) His 6th wife Jill Vandenberg ( 45 years his junior) was with him when he died.

Later in life he made a name for himself as an artist . In 1989, he sold more than US$1mil (RM3.08mil) of his art works on the first day of his Los Angeles Art Exhibition. He was a multi-talented icon, he certainly was unique.

To think that he nearly didn’t make it when he participated in teen gangs in the Bronx but was saved when a neighbour got him interested in Boy Scouts activities at age 16 . He had a stint in the Navy, later made good in Drama School and never looked back.


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Hank,
You must surely be a fan of Tony Curtis. It is just like an eulogy for him. I only remember him for the popular hairstyle which became the icon of him.

kaykuala said...

Dear Hal,
Somehow he was different. I enjoyed his antics. He always seemed to have something up his sleeves whenever we saw him in his dialogues ( with that impish smile).In that split second we anticipated something different from what it seemed and we got fooled at the end. That made it interesting!

Al-Manar said...

Dear Hank,
I saw plenty of him in the fifties and enjoyed his films. I do not recal reading anything immoral about him. He lived a long life for that matter, I suppose.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
He treated his arts with the same finesse as his social life - very clear-cut. If 'immoral' is equated to 'scandalous' apparently none were exposed but he was a known ladies' man exploiting his good looks to the fullest. He managed to keep things at acceptable levels at Hollywood standards, just so, I suppose.