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The Late, Great Tony Curtis

Posted by Charles Reece, September 30, 2010 08:50am | Post a Comment

If I were to pick my top 10 favorite films, one of them would be Sweet Smell of Success: directed by Alexander Mackendrick, written by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, shot by James Wong Howe, scored by Elmer Bernstein (with jazz supplied by Chico Hamilton), and starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Curtis provided the slime that lubricated Lancaster's evil. I guess many consider Curtis a heartthrob, but he was best at his sleaziest (cf. Some Like It Hot). He died at 85.

Actor Tony Curtis Dead at Age 85

Posted by Billyjam, September 30, 2010 07:07am | Post a Comment
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon +  Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot (1959)

As reported by the Associated Press, legendary Hollywood actor Tony Curtis died yesterday (Sept 29th) Tony Curtisof cardiac arrest at his home in the Las Vegas area. He was 85. Curtis, who made over a hundred films between the years 1949 and 2008, will be best remembered for comic roles he played such as his full-drag impersonation of a female jazz musician ("Josephine") in 1959's Some Like It Hot and for serious roles such as an escaped chain gang prisoner in The Defiant Ones.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Hungary, he was born Bernard Schwartz and had a tough childhood with his parents. They were so broke and desperate during the Depression years that they had to place him, along with his brother, in a state institution. After serving in the Navy during WWII he turned his focus to acting and at first chose James Curtis as his stage name. He then eventually settled on Anthony Curtis. He was billed as Tony Curtis for the first time in the 1950 western Kansas Raiders. 

Curtis' movie career officially began in 1948 when he won a contract with Universal Pictures, which initially resulted in several small roles in movies such as the 1949 Robert Siodmak directed Criss Cross and the 1950 Arthur Lubin directed Francis. In 1951 he would receive top billing for the first time when he starred in the Rudolph Maté directed The Prince Who Was a Thief. Up to this point his parts were Tony Curtis + Janet Leighserious dramatic ones, but in 1952 he got to unveil his comic talents for the first time in Douglas Sirk’s No Room for the Groom. His first role of considerable importance was in 1953's George Marshall directed Houdini, in which he played opposite his wife Janet Leigh. Married in 1951, the equally attractive couple were the equivalent of Brangelina in the movie fan magazines of the day.

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