He did it his way.
Tony Curtis, the legendary leading man whose career spanned some six decades, has died in his Las Vegas home. He was 85.
His autobiography An American Prince, released last year, begins with the words “All my life I had one dream, and that was to be in the movies.”
That dream came true at the age of 23 when he came to California after a turbulent and often abusive adolescence in New York, armed with smoldering good looks and an education at the Dramatic Workshop (thanks to the G.I. Bill) where he studied alongside Rod Steiger and Walter Matthau.
Curtis was signed on at Universal and embarked headlong into a career that is almost mind-bending in both its longevity and the sheer caliber of projects he was involved in.
His reputation as a playboy and ladies man is well earned (he was married six times–but most of us only remember the Studio-Approved Tony Curtis/Janet Leigh love affair). But that should never overshadow his very distinct and clear craft as an actor.
He was not very good in the beginning, and was certainly miscast on more than one occasion, but from out of bad ones (the Purple Masks and Son of Ali Baba’s) are a host of cinematic treasures—of which Curtis is often the indispensable core. Some Like it Hot, Sweet Smell of Success, Kings Go Forth, The Defiant Ones, The Great Race, Spartacus, The Boston Strangler—all are essential films that are strengthened, even if in part, by the presence of the essential Hollywood star: Tony Curtis.
RIP, Tony. There’ll never be another like you.