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Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz; June 3, 1925) is an Americanmarker film actor. He has played a variety of roles, from light comic, 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 has appeared in more than 100 films and has made frequent television appearances.

Early life

Curtis was born as Bernard Schwartz in the Bronxmarker, New Yorkmarker, a son of Emanuel Schwartz and his wife Helen Klein. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Mátészalkamarker, Hungarymarker. His father was a tailor and the family lived in the back of the shop, the parents in one corner and Curtis and his brothers Julius and Robert in another. Curtis has said, "When I was a child Mom beat me up and was very aggressive and antagonistic." His mother was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental illness which also affected his brother Robert and led to his institutionalization. When Curtis was eight, he and his younger brother Julius were placed in an orphanage for a month because their parents could not afford to feed them. Four years later, Julius was struck and killed by a truck.

During World War II, Curtis served in the United States Navy aboard USS Proteus , a submarine tender. On September 2, 1945, he witnessed the Japanesemarker surrender in Tokyo Baymarker 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 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. Although the studio taught him fencing and riding, Curtis admits he was at first only interested in girls and money.

Career

Curtis, during a signing of his 2008 memoir, American Prince
Curtis's screen debut came uncredited in the Criss Cross (1949) playing a rumba dancer. Later, he cemented his reputation with breakout performances such as in the role of the scheming press agent Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) with Burt Lancaster (who also starred in Criss Cross) and an Oscar-nominated performance as a bigoted escaped convict chained to Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones

Curtis also appeared frequently on television; he co-starred with Roger Moore in the TV series The Persuaders!. Later, he co-starred in McCoy and Vega$. In the early 1960s, he was immortalized as "Stony Curtis," a voice-over guest star on The Flintstones.

Throughout his life, Curtis has enjoyed painting, and since the early 1980s, has painted as a second career. His work commands more than $25,000 a canvas now and he now focuses on painting rather than movies. "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 Museummarker in Manhattanmarker. His paintings can also be seen at the Tony Vanderploeg Gallery in Carmel, Californiamarker.

Curtis has spoken in the past of his disappointment at never being awarded an Oscar. "My profession has never recognized me sufficiently for my work." But in March 2006, Curtis did receive the Sony Ericsson Empire Lifetime Achievement Award. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker, and received the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) from France in 1995.

Personal life

Curtis has been married six times. His first (and most famous) wife was the actress Janet Leigh (1927–2004), to whom he was married for 11 years (June 4, 1951 – 1962), and with whom he fathered actresses Jamie Lee and Kelly Curtis. "For a while, we were Hollywood's golden couple," he says. "I was very dedicated and devoted to Janet and on top of my trade, but in her eyes that goldenness started to wear off. I realized that whatever I was, I wasn't enough for Janet. That hurt me a lot and broke my heart." It was Leigh's third marriage. Curtis, who admits to cheating on her throughout their marriage, left Leigh in 1962 for Christine Kaufmann, the 17-year-old German co-star of his latest film, Taras Bulba.

Curtis has also been married to:
  • Christine Kaufmann (February 8, 1963 – 1967); divorced, two children
  • Leslie Allen (April 20, 1968 – 1982); divorced, two children
  • Andrea Savio (1984 – 1992); divorced
  • Lisa Deutsch (February 28, 1993 – 1994); divorced
  • Jill Vandenberg Curtis (November 6, 1998 –)


His son, Nicholas (with Leslie Allen), died of a heroin overdose on April 2, 1994, at the age of 23. Of this, Curtis has said, "As a father you don't recover from that. There isn't a moment at night that I don't remember him."

In 2002, Curtis purportedly told a British gay magazine attitude, "I was 22 when I arrived in Hollywood in 1948. I had more action than Mount Vesuviusmarker; men, women, animals! I loved it too. I participated where I wanted to and didn't where I didn't. I've always been open about it."

Curtis states that he had a brief relationship with Marilyn Monroe in 1949, which had to end due to their different work commitments.

His current wife is 42 years his junior. They met in a restaurant in 1993 and married in 1998. "The age gap doesn't bother us. We laugh a lot. My body is functioning and everything is good. She's the sexiest woman I've ever known. We don't think about time. I don't use Viagra either. There are 50 ways to please your lover."

In 2004, he was inducted into the UNLVmarker Hall of Fame. A street is named after him at The Revere at Anthem development in Henderson, Nevada.

In 1998, he founded the Emanuel Foundation for Hungarian Culture, and has served as honorary chairperson. This is for the restoration and preservation of synagogues and 1300 Jewish cemeteries in Hungary. He dedicated this to the 600,000 Hungarian victims of the Holocaust.

Curtis nearly died when he contracted pneumonia in December 2006 and was in a coma for several days. He now uses a wheelchair and can only walk short distances. Curtis now lives in Las Vegas, NV.

In October 2008, Curtis released his latest autobiography American Prince: A Memoir (Harmony Books), written with Peter Golenbock. In it, he elaborates on his widely publicized affair with Marilyn Monroe, his encounters with other Hollywood legends of the time, including Frank Sinatra and James Dean, as well as his hard-knock childhood and path to success.

There is a mural of him on US Highway 101 Southbound at the Sunset Blvd. exit.

On 24 October 2008, he appeared as a guest on the UK chat show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on the BBC, along with Daniel Craig, Grace Jones and the UK girl band Girls Aloud.

On 24 October 2008 he also appeared on the Irish chat show 'The Late Late Show' hosted that night by presenter Gerry Ryan.

On 21 May 2009, he appeared as a guest on The One Show, on BBC 1 in the United Kingdom.

On the 22nd of May 2009, he appeared as a guest on the popular Breakfast show GMTV, on ITV in the UK.

On 22 May 2009, Curtis had to apologize to the BBC radio audience after he used three swear words in a six-minute interview with BBC presenter William Crawley. The presenter also apologized to the audience for Curtis's "Hollywood realism". Curtis explained that he thought the interview was being taped, when it was in fact live.

Filmography





Further reading

Filmography Murder in Three Acts

References

External links




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