October 1, 2010 by Post Team
He overcame early typecasting as a child light enough to be a serious actor in films like “Sweet Smell of Success”, “Spartacus” and “The Fugitive”, the latter earning him an Oscar nomination.
He resisted obsolescence, constantly reshaping themselves and having less paperwork to find a steady job at a company that prizes youth. Submitted the alcohol and drug addictions, lived through six marriages and divorces of five years, and found peace through a new art, as a painter.
Curtis, whose wildly indefinable cast of characters ranged from a leading Roman slave rebel yell of “I am Spartacus” to a jazz musician Age woo Marilyn Monroe, while disguised as a woman in “Some Like It Hot” has died on Wednesday night. He was 85.
The actor suffered a heart attack at his home in Henderson, Nevada, the coroner said Thursday.
“My father left behind a legacy of great performances in films and in his paintings and assemblages”, Jamie Lee Curtis – said in a statement – his daughter with his first wife, Janet Leigh, co-star of “Psycho.” “He leaves behind children and their families who loved and respected him, and wife and in-laws that were dedicated to him. He also leaves behind fans around the world.”
Starting his career in late 1940 and early 1950 with small roles as a juvenile delinquent or in forgettable films such as talking-mule comedy “Francis”, Curtis rose to fame as a swashbuckling heartthrob, mixing in work a little heavier, like the boxing drama “Flesh and Fury” and the title role in the biopic “Houdini.”
Hampered from the outset by a Bronx accent that drew laughter in westerns and adventures of another period, Curtis softened its edges and silenced critics of 1957 “Sweet Smell of Success,” in which he plays a press agent to poor quality servile pawn becomes a ruthless newspaper columnist (Burt Lancaster).
Curtis grew up in an actor and gave the best performance of his career, “wrote critic Pauline Kael.
However, it was an absolute star, not critical acclaim, which led to Curtis, said his sixth wife, Jill Curtis.
“All Tony ever wanted to be was a movie star. He did not want to be the most dramatic actor,” said Jill Curtis. “I wanted to be a movie star since I was a little boy.”
A year after “Sweet Smell of Success”, Curtis was nominated for best actor Oscar in “The Fugitive” as a white prisoner escaped forced to put aside their racism to work with the inmate black (Sidney Poitier) who was handcuffed .
“It’s one of those actors in the 50′s was a handsome man, charismatic leader, who became something of an icon as a sex symbol. It is not someone you’d originally thought very deeply. He was charming and funny, and however, proved to be quite complex and gave some great performances, “said actor and director Tony Goldwyn.
In 1959, Curtis joined Monroe and Jack Lemmon for a wild historical film, Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot”, which ranks No. 1 in the American Film Institute list of 100 best American comedies .
To celebrate its 80 anniversary in 2005, Curtis posed nde in Vanity Fair, along with their dogs, Josephine and Daphne, the name of Lemmon and “Some Like It Hot” characters.
By then, her shiny black hair had turned silver, which had long since kicked alcohol and drugs, and his painting of Matisse, as still lifes fills much of the creative space left by his acting career faded.
Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz in the Bronx, NY, in 1925, the son of Hungarian Jews who had emigrated to the United States after World War
In a 2002 interview with The Associated Press, Curtis spoke candidly about his life was in his 50′s, when he was relegated to the TV and in movies like “The Bad News Bears Go to Japan News” or the comedy of sex cheesy “Some Like It Cool.”
“I was not happy with my marriage. I was not happy with the films he was doing. The next thing I know, I’m using cocaine and alcohol. And the next thing I know, I am immersed in it,” said Curtis.
He checked into the Betty Ford Center and became clean and sober in the 1980, then spent time in Hawaii, where he sought solitude and painted.
Although he performed in small pieces fairly regularly through the 1990′s and had occasional roles in the last decade, Curtis continued to enjoy life away from Hollywood in Las Vegas, where he lived with his sixth wife, the former Jill VandenBerg, who married in 1998.
“Jilly and I do not need a lot of people around,” Curtis said in the AP interview in 2002. “We dress for dinner, put on the Strip, beautiful hotels. We see a show, go dancing. During the day, swimming and painting. I can not imagine living somewhere else.”
Curtis has six children from his marriage. Was separated by a long period of their daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, whose credits include “Perfect,” “Halloween,” “True Lies” and the release last week, the comedy “You Again.”
He and his daughter finally reconciled, Curtis and was proud of his success in Hollywood.
Curtis was married to his mother, Janet Leigh, in 1951, when both were rising young stars. They divorced in 1963.
“Tony and I had a great time together. It was an exciting time, glamor of Hollywood,” Leigh, who died in 2004, once said. “Many great things happened – above all, two beautiful children.”
Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz in the Bronx in 1925, the son of Hungarian Jews who had emigrated to the United States after the First World War his father, Manny Schwartz, had wanted to be an actor, but the work was hard to find with his heavy accent . It was established to bring jobs, moving the family several times, while looking for work.
“I was always the new kid on the block, so I got beat by the other children,” Curtis recalled in 1959. “I had to figure a way to avoid a broken nose. So I became the new crazy guy on the block.”
He suffered the tragedy at the age of 12 when his younger brother died in a traffic accident. Finding refuge in the movies, which are absent from school to catch matinees starring Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and other screen idols.
After serving on a submarine during World War II, he enrolled in drama school on the GI Bill and was doing play when an agent lined up an audition with Universal, where he signed a contract for seven years from and 100 a week at age 23.
The study gave a new name: Anthony Curtis, taken from his favorite novel, “Anthony Adverse” and the Anglicized name of a favorite uncle. Later reduced to Tony Curtis.
As your big screen star was lost in the 1960, Curtis was remodeled as a character actor and turned to television with the 1970 action series “The Persuaders”, co-starring Roger Moore, and a recurring role on the crime drama “Las Vegas”.
Curtis won an Emmy nomination in 1980 as producer David O. Selznick in “Gone with the Wind” chronic “The Scarlett O’Hara War.”
He also went on to write a novel of 1977, “Kid Cody and Julie Sparrow” and 1993 “Tony Curtis:. The Autobiography”
Curtis remained vigorous after bypass surgery in 1994, but his health declined in recent years.
Jill Curtis said her husband had been hospitalized several times in recent weeks for lung problems blamed smoking for 30 years. Recently returned home, where he died in his sleep, he said.
old friend and a casino executive said Gene Kilroy Memorial services will be held on Monday in Las Vegas, with a reception at the Luxor hotel-casino on the Strip in Las Vegas.
Through its ups and downs, Curtis had a brash optimism.
“One thing that Tony always said, ‘God is great. We do not hurt, because it looks like Tony Curtis,”‘ said his wife Jill Curtis. “I guess now you know how it looks.”
Associated Press writers Bob Thomas in Los Angeles, Ken Ritter and Oskar Garcia in Las Vegas, AP Entertainment Editor Michael Weinfeld in Washington and AP video producer Nicole Evatt in New York contributed to this report.
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