Born Bernard Schwartz on 6th March 1925, in Bronx New York
Later Changed his name to Tony Curtis
Janet Leigh – 1951-1962
Christine Kaufmann – 1963-1967
Leslie Allen 1968-1982
Andria Savio 1983-1992
Lisa Deutsch 1993-1994
All of his previous marriages ended in divorce, however he is succeeded by:
Jill Vandenderg with whom he married in 1998
Son of Emanuel Schwartz and Helen Klein
Father of Jamie Leigh Curtis and Kelly Curtis from his marriage to Janet Leigh
Son Nicholas died of a heroin overdose at aged 23 years, he always maintained that you never recover from a tragedy like that.
Hungarian Jewish Immigrants from Mateszalky, Hungary
His Father was a Tailor, but he had acted in the past in Budapest
Curtis spoke only Hungarian until aged 6 years
His mother appeared on TV show “You Bet Your Life” hosted by Groucho Marx
Attended Seward Park High School in Manhatten, the school relocated due to a new subway being built in 1929 and in 2006 closed to make way for a complex of academies.
Attended City College of New York and studied at an “Acting Drama Workshop” at “The New School” New York with German Stage Director Erwin Piscator and Elaine Stritch and Walter Matthau and Rod Steiger.
2004 Inducted into University of Nevada’s Hall of Fam and had a street named after him.
1984 Curtis was rushed to hospital with cirrhosis of the liver
1994 Heart Bypass
2006 Went into a coma after suffering from pneumonia, very nearly died
Had described his mother when he was a child as “Very Aggressive/Antagonistic and that she had beaten him up, his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia as was his brother Robert later and Robert was institutionalised. At aged eight Curtis and brother Julius were placed in an orphanage for a month because his mother had no money for food. At aged 12 his brother Julius was killed by a truck.
World War II
Joined US Navy after being inspired by watching Cary Grant in “Destination Tokyo” and Tyrone Power in “Crash Dive.2 Served with “USS Proteus” submarine, during his service he witnessed the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay.
Discovered by casting director Joyce Selzaick and he arrived in Hollywood in 1948 under “Universal Pictures”
His Career spanned six decades
Most prominent in 1950’s and early 1960’s
His genre stretched from comedy to serious drama and later in life to television appearances
Were considered to win him roles in:
Westerns and Sports Films
Janet Leigh Co Star and Wife
Starred in Houdini with his wife Janet leigh and gave a transparent indication that he was an accomplished success, critic David Thomson describing his acting as “Having progressed immensely.”
First serious Success Role
In Sweet Smell of Success in 1957, with co star Burt Lancaster
Curtis never won an Oscar but was nominated for one with “The Defiant Ones” in 1958, the nomination was for “Best Actor.”
“Some Like it Hot” with Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, directed by Billy Wilder, attracted attention and the critic David Thomson this time called it outrageous, it tells the story of Curtis passing himself off in the film as a girl in a “Girl Band.” This show catapulted him to fame and will always be his “Blockbuster.”
Told “Shrink Rap” that he had a brief fling with Marilyn Monroe, but they split because of heavy work schedules. He also described the actress as “difficult to work with.”
The Credits were Plentiful
Operation Peticoat, Blake Edwards comedy in 1959 with co star Cary Grant, in which he was singled out for his ability to display impeccable timing.
In 1960 in “The Rat Race” another strong performance.
In 1968 A Serious Role And Perhaps Last Major Role
In a True Life Drama “The Boston strangler” he had his face rebuilt with a false nose to emulate the real life “Albert de Salvo.”
Later in life he appeared on numerous chat shows and also in a TV Commercial about “Hungary’s Country Image” in 2004 he was said to have increased travellers to Hungary by 16%.
In 2008 A documentary “The Jill and Tony” Story was aired and included the work they both were doing to rescue “horses” from slaughterhouses.
Also in 2008 in his biography he refers to working with Frank Sinatra, James Dean and of his tough childhood and his pathway to success. (Publishers Harmony)
In 2009 he released a second book solely on “The Making Of Some Like It Hot.”
In 1998 he founded and Chaired the “Hungarian Culture” a preservation and restoration society for synagogues and cemeteries in Hungary and dedicated his work to the 600,000 victims of the Holecaust.
Accomplished painter later in life.
A Murial is placed on the US Highway, 101, Southbound At Sunset Boulevard.
Jamie Lee Curtis has said “My father leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies. he leaves behind children a wife and family that love him and respect him and a world wide fan base who loved him too.”
Manager Mike Enfield has said that it is at Palm Mortuary, Green Valley and that donations are to go to the “Shiloh Horse Rescue.” Source “Digital Spy”
“Philly.Com” said of him that he was an “Actor of “Unexpected Range. On his background they said that Cn M
Cover of Sweet Smell of Success
Cover of Some Like It Hot
Cover of Houdini
Cover of The Boston Strangler
Cover of Destination Tokyo
urtis joined a gang at aged 11 and at aged 12 was arrested for truancy, but instead of taking him to the police station, they took him to a settlement home where he got involved in “acting.”
Daily Expresses “Richard & Judy said “A Light went out when Tony Curtis died at 85 years for that rogue real life entrance. They talked about whenever they met him that twinkled charm was always there. However on the last occasion he could barely walk and was conscious of his early good looks that help shoot him to fame. He also talked to them about the fun time with Marilyn Monroe and of course their favourite moment, the scene with Jack Lemmon and Curtis in drag in the all girl band.
IMDG said “You never new what to expect he refused to play it safe and was devoted to a hard working life to perform a vast array of characters, who were always handsome.”
Acknowledgements also to Wikipedia
This piece celebrates the life of a true legend, a word often dished out but in Tony Christie’s case, evidence suggests that he really was a legend. A man who had some early lucky breaks, was blessed with incredible looks and went on to demonstrate incredible stage presence in both the comedy and serious acting world. A man who often thought he was underestimated and is there not some truth in that, where were the Oscars where were the accolades for spell-bounding performances in “Some Like It Hot.” Nowadays tributes come and go to those that leave us, his legacy will always remain, as someone who naturally could make us laugh and has been said had terrific timing in his performances.