Arrivederci Baby!

Last Updated: May 20, 2011By Tags:

By ALI NADERZAD – September 30, 2010

After Tony Curtis danced with Yvone de Carlo in “Criss Cross” (1948) he received thousands of fan letters asking for a lock of his hair. And that mane was famous; it should’ve had its own stage name. Curtis left us yesterday and with him a sizable piece of the Hollywood myth goes. Success never seemed to be far and everyone took to liking the Studio City golden boy. And modesty was never quite his thing: when asked who the most attractive person was he had worked with he replied “I am.” Of his undying streak of good luck Curtis has been quoted as saying, “Well, on the one hand you could say I was tremendously blessed, on the other I was definitely cursed.”

More than for a good run Curtis should be celebrated for his lust for life; and there was a yearning to be on the big screen, too.

Not long after he was discovered, Tony Curtis was offered a seven-year contract with Universal. Generating box office returns and crowd-pleasing was one thing, earning critical raves; in 1958 Curtis appeared alongside Sydney Poitier in “The defiant ones”; both men earned Oscar nominations. The career-defining role came next, however—can you guess it? “Some like it hot,” with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemon.

Altogether, Tony Curtis appeared in 140 films. In the latter part of his life, Curtis turned his attention to painting and enjoyed great notoriety and success here as well. Most importantly, though, he appears to be one of the few Hollywood icons who have been able to distance themselves from their career and while away their remaining years serenely doing something completely different.

Tony Curtis preferred comedy over drama, idolized Cary Grant and made Jack Lemmon a sidekick. So of course he was no stranger to self-deprecation. Once, he was heard commenting that, “They gave me away as a prize once–a Win Tony Curtis For A Weekend competition. The woman who won was disappointed. She’d hoped for second prize–a new stove.”