Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony (Bernard Schwartz) Curtis -- June 3, 1925 to September 29, 2010

Tony Curtis was an American film actor. He played a variety of roles from light comedy, such as the musician on the run from gangsters in Some Like It Hot, to serious dramatic roles, such as an escaped convict in The Defiant Ones which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Since 1949, he appeared in more than 100 films and made frequent television appearances.

Born Bernard Schwartz in the Bronx, New York, to Emanuel Schwartz and his wife Helen Klein who were Jewish Hungarian immigrants.

During World War II, Curtis joined the United States Navy, heavily inspired by Cary Grant in Destination Tokyo and Tyrone Power in Crash Dive (1943). He served aboard USS Proteus (AS-19), a submarine tender and on September 2, 1945, he witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay from about a mile away. Following his discharge, Curtis studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German stage director Erwin Piscator, along with Elaine Stritch, Walter Matthau, and Rod Steiger. He was discovered by a talent agent and casting director Joyce Selznick. Curtis claims it was because he "was the handsomest of the boys." Arriving in Hollywood in 1948 at age 23, he was placed under contract at Universal Pictures and changed his name to Tony Curtis, taking his first name from the novel Anthony Adverse and his last name from "Kurtz", a surname from his mother's family.

Throughout his life, he enjoyed painting, and since the early 1980s, painted as a second career. His work commands more than $25,000 a canvas now. In the last years of his life, he concentrated on painting rather than movies. A surrealist, Curtis claimed "Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Magritte" as influences. "I still make movies but I'm not that interested in them any more. But I paint all the time." In 2007, his painting The Red Table was on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. His paintings can also be seen at the Tony Vanderploeg Gallery in Carmel, California.

Curtis was married six times. His first wife was actress Janet Leigh to whom he was married from 1951–1962, and with whom he fathered actresses Jamie Lee and Kelly Curtis.

Suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he was hospitalized in Las Vegas after an asthma attack during a book signing engagement in Henderson, Nevada at Costco.

Tony Curtis died in bed at his Henderson home on September 29, 2010 at 9:25 PM of cardiac arrest.


Criss Cross (1949)
City Across the River (1949)
The Lady Gambles (1949)
Take One False Step (1949) (scenes deleted)
Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949)
How to Smuggle a Hernia Across the Border (1949) (short subject)
Woman in Hiding (1950)
Francis (1950)
I Was a Shoplifter (1950)
Sierra (1950)
Winchester '73 (1950) (Credited as Anthony Curtis)
Kansas Raiders (1950)
The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951)
Meet Danny Wilson (1952) (cameo)
Flesh and Fury (1952)
No Room for the Groom (1952)
Son of Ali Baba (1952)
Houdini (1953)
The All-American (1953)
Forbidden (1953)
Beachhead (film) (1954)
Johnny Dark (1954)
The Black Shield of Falworth (1954)
Six Bridges to Cross (1955)
So This Is Paris (1955)
The Purple Mask (1955)
The Rawhide Years (1955)
The Square Jungle (1955)
Trapeze (1956)
Mister Cory (1957)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
The Midnight Story (1957)
The Vikings (1958)
Kings Go Forth (1958)
The Defiant Ones (1958)
The Perfect Furlough (1958)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Operation Petticoat (1959)
Who Was That Lady? (1960)
The Rat Race (1960)
Spartacus (1960)
Pepe (1960) (cameo)
The Great Impostor (1961)
The Outsider (1961), as Ira Hayes
Taras Bulba (1962)
40 Pounds of Trouble (1962)
The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) (cameo)
Captain Newman, M.D. (1963)
Paris, When It Sizzles (1964) (cameo)
Wild and Wonderful (1964)
Goodbye Charlie (1964)
Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
The Great Race (1965)
Boeing Boeing (1965)
The Flinstones (1965) (voice)
Chamber of Horrors (1966) (cameo)
Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966)
Arrivederci, Baby! (1966)
Don't Make Waves (1967)
On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who... (1968)
Rosemary's Baby (1968) (voice)
The Boston Strangler (1968)
Monte Carlo or Bust (1969)
You Can't Win 'Em All (1970)
Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970)
The Persuaders! (1971–1972)
Mission: Monte Carlo (1974)
Lepke (1975)
The Count of Monte Cristo (1975)
London Conspiracy (1976)
The Last Tycoon (1976)
Casanova & Co. (1977)
Sextette (1978)
The Manitou (1978)
The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978)
The Users (1978)
Double Take (1979)
Title Shot (1979)
Little Miss Marker (1980)
It Rained All Night the Day I Left (1980)
The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980)
Othello, the Black Commando (1982)
Where Is Parsifal? (1983)
BrainWaves (1983)
The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (1985) (documentary)
Club Life (1985)
Insignificance (1985)
The Last of Philip Banter (1986)
Balboa (1986)
The Passenger - Welcome to Germany (1988)
Lobster Man From Mars (1989)
Midnight (1989)
Tarzan in Manhattan (1989)
Walter & Carlo In America (1989)
Prime Target (1991)
Center of the Web (1992)
Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time (1992) (documentary)
Naked in New York (1993)
The Mummy Lives (1993)
A Century of Cinema (1994) (documentary)
The Immortals (1995)
The Celluloid Closet (1995) (documentary)
Roseanne - TV Series (1996) (role as Hal, ballroom dance studio instructor)
Hardball (1997)
Brittle Glory (1997)
Alien X Factor (1997)
Stargames (1998)
Louis & Frank (1998)
Play It to the Bone (1999) (cameo)
Reflections of Evil (2002) (narrator)
Where's Marty? (2006)
The Blacksmith and the Carpenter (2007) (voice)
David & Fatima (2008)
The Jill & Tony Curtis Story (2008) (documentary feature)


Anonymous said...

Loved him in Some Like It Hot and had such a mad crush on him in Spartacus! K. :)

i beati said...

I was so amazed Debbie Reynolds who looked superb was discussing Tony on Larry King Live when Eddie Fisher died just a week ago. strange.

ChaChaneen said...

Paris when it sizzles! Lurve that movie. Wow, what a crazy summer we've both had with our family / health issues. I've got lots of stuff to blog about but not the time to do it.... nor the time I'd like to visit blogs either. But I always enjoy visiting you! Have a great week PM!

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Loved him in Some Like It Hot and Spartacus too, K.! My favorite was Houdini! :))

Wouldn't be surprised, Sandy, as they're all pretty much in the same circle of celebrities! :))

Hi Jananeen! Whew! If it were anything like my summer, I empathize! Haven't made my usual round either. Thank you for your always upbeat hello! And will see you soon! :))