R.I.P. Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis, the star of such classic films as Sweet Smell of Success and Some Like It Hot, has passed away at the age of 85.

The former Hollywood heartthrob died of cardiac arrest at his home in Nevada.

Born Bernard Schwartz in 1925, his love for cinema drove him not into acting, but rather the Navy. Having been inspired by Cary Grant in Destination Tokyo and Tyrone Power in Crash Drive, Curtis enlisted in the U.S. Navy to serve his country during World War 2.

At the end of WW2, he enrolled at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York, where he was discovered by a talent agent.

In 1948, Schwartz changed his name to Tony Curtis, and signed a seven-year contract with Universal Pictures. He was to be paid $75 a week.

His initial film roles were not met with much acclaim, with some critics noting his thick New York accent as being inappropriate in films such as Son of Ali Baba and Houdini.

However, he became one of Hollywood’s hardest working actors, appearing in 30 films during the 1950s.

In 1957 Curtis starred as press agent Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success, a film that was met with near universal acclaim. The following year, he and Sidney Poitier starred in The Defiant Ones as two prisoners who escape from a chain gang. Both were nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. In 1959 he appeared in Billy Wilder‘s Some Like It Hot as a jazz musician who resorts to cross-dressing to hide from the mob. The film is considered one of the all time great comedies.

His star continued to rise in the 1960s, after appearing in films such as Spartacus, The Great Race and The Boston Strangler. He even made a guest appearance on The Flintstones as Stony Curtis.

In the 1980s, Curtis began a second career as a surrealist painter. It was a hobby of his that he continued until his final days.

Curtis is survived by his sixth wife Jill Vandenberg, daughters Jamie Lee Curtis, Kelly Lee Curtis, Alexandra Curtis, Allegra Curtis, and his son Benjamin Curtis.

Discuss: R.I.P.

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