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|Also Known As:||Anthony Curtis, Bernard Schwartz, James Curtis, Anthony Curtis||Died:||September 29, 2010|
|Born:||June 3, 1925||Cause of Death:||cardiac arrest|
|Birth Place:||Bronx, New York, USA||Profession:||actor, producer|
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ak police procedural "The Boston Stranger" (1968). He was widely praised for his performance as the psychologically damaged De Salvo, and for his efforts, earned a Golden Globe nomination, but the film did not prevent his career from continuing its slow descent from the limelight. In 1968, Curtis married for the third time to Leslie Allen, who later gave him his first sons, Benjamin and Nicholas.Despite the fact that he no longer commanded box office respect as he once did, Curtis was exceptionally busy in the 1970s, starring in the breezy British adventure drama "The Persuaders!" (ITC, 1971-72), which cast him alongside Roger Moore as two roguish millionaires who enjoyed hijinks and expensive fun across Europe. An American attempt to recreate its charm came with "McCoy" (ABC, 1975-76), with Curtis as a good-natured con man, but the series failed to earn a viewership. Curtis was also fairly active in film during the 1970s, most notably in Elia Kazan's "The Last Tycoon" (1976), an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel about 1930s-era Hollywood, which gave him second billing opposite Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson. But for the most part, Curtis floundered in second-rate productions (or worse)...
ak police procedural "The Boston Stranger" (1968). He was widely praised for his performance as the psychologically damaged De Salvo, and for his efforts, earned a Golden Globe nomination, but the film did not prevent his career from continuing its slow descent from the limelight. In 1968, Curtis married for the third time to Leslie Allen, who later gave him his first sons, Benjamin and Nicholas.
Despite the fact that he no longer commanded box office respect as he once did, Curtis was exceptionally busy in the 1970s, starring in the breezy British adventure drama "The Persuaders!" (ITC, 1971-72), which cast him alongside Roger Moore as two roguish millionaires who enjoyed hijinks and expensive fun across Europe. An American attempt to recreate its charm came with "McCoy" (ABC, 1975-76), with Curtis as a good-natured con man, but the series failed to earn a viewership. Curtis was also fairly active in film during the 1970s, most notably in Elia Kazan's "The Last Tycoon" (1976), an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel about 1930s-era Hollywood, which gave him second billing opposite Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson. But for the most part, Curtis floundered in second-rate productions (or worse) like the ill-advised Mae West comeback vehicle "Sextette" (1978) or the unnecessary "Bad News Bears Go to Japan" (1978). In 1977, Curtis published a novel, Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow.
Curtis launched the 1980s with an Emmy-nominated turn with a touch of nostalgia, in which he played David O. Selznick, whose niece had discovered him some three decades prior, in "The Scarlett O'Hara War" (1980). He also enjoyed a choice role as Kim Novak's producer husband in a camped-up film adaptation of Agatha Christie's "The Mirror Crack'd" (1980), and appeared on stage in a production of Neil Simon's "I Oughta Be in Pictures" that same year. Like many older stars, Curtis remained a regular presence on television as well, most notably in a recurring role as Robert Urich's casino owner boss on "Vega$" (ABC, 1978-1981), and later as real-life mobster Sam Giancana in the Susan Lucci starrer, "Mafia Princess" (1986). But Curtis began to develop interests outside of acting during this decade. After a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1984 for drug and alcohol dependency, he began experimenting with painting, and displayed a particular knack for portraits, including those of his former co-stars, like Marilyn Monroe. Eventually, his artwork began fetching top prices among collectors, and was featured in major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Curtis' personal life remained tumultuous; he divorced Leslie Allen in 1983, and married his fourth wife, Lisa Deutsch, in 1993. The marriage lasted only a year.
Eventually, art replaced movies as Curtis' primary creative outlet, though he remained active in features throughout the 1990s. Few were consequential, and his last projects of any substance came in 1986 as a Joseph McCarthy-esque senator in Nicolas Roeg's experimental comedy-drama "Insignificance," and later in a cameo for the indie-minded romance "Naked in New York" (1993). Otherwise, he could be seen in countless low-budget action and comedy features, as well on television in episodes of "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997) and "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (ABC, 1993-97). He also dished the dirt about many of his famous co-stars on the tawdry documentary series "Hollywood Babylon" (syndicated, 1992). But Curtis was best utilized as the voice of experience in several quality documentaries about the movie business, including "The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal" (1985), "Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time" (1992), and "The Celluloid Closet" (1995), which explored homosexuality in Hollywood. Curtis was also the subject of television biographies, including a 1999 retrospective on Turner Classic Movies' "Private Screenings" (TCM, 1996- ), and a 2001 episode of "Biography" (A&E, 1987- ), as well as penning an eponymous autobiography (with Barry Paris) in 1993. Curtis' long and storied career received several significant awards during the late 1990s and early 2000s, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and recognition for lifetime achievement from the Empire Awards UK, but Curtis was vocal about his disappointment at never receiving an Oscar for his efforts.
The peace and success afforded to him by his art career and the celebration of his movie work by the international filmmaking community was shattered by the 1994 death of his son Nicholas from a drug overdose. In interviews, Curtis commented that he had suffered terribly after the loss. In 1998, he married his fifth wife, horse trainer Jill Vanderburg, who was some 42 years younger than him. In 2002, Curtis revisited one of his most enduring features in a musical version of "Some Like It Hot" at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA. In the play, he played eccentric millionaire Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown's role in the film), who delivers the picture's memorable closing line: "Nobody's perfect." The actor passed away on Sept. 29, 2010 of cardiac arrest.yn Monroe) to evade Chicago-land gangsters after they witness the fabled Valentine's Day Massacre. Because of the troubles she stirred up on set â¿¿ mainly causing delays for seemingly endless takes â¿¿ Curtis was widely quoted as stating that kissing Monroe was like "kissing Hitler," but refuted the statement in a 2001 interview, possibly realizing it seemed callous in light of what later happened to the troubled star. He was definitely on a roll, and Curtis' string of hits led him to be cast in the small but significant role of Antoninus, slave to Roman general Crassus (Laurence Olivier) and eventual soldier under Kirk Douglas' Spartacus in the Stanley Kubrick epic of the same name (1960). A scene in which Crassus attempts to seduce Antoninus was cut from the original release, but restored for its 1991 reissue. Curtis was enlisted to re-record his dialogue â¿¿ the original track had gone missing â¿¿ and Anthony Hopkins was tapped to provide a note-perfect imitation of Olivier.
After 1960, Curtis divided his time between dramas and light comic fare, both of which yielded a string of solid hits for the actor. Among his better films during this period were "The Outsider" (1961), about Ira Hayes, the Native American who helped to raise the Iwo Jima flag during World War II; "The Great Imposter" (1961), about the real-life imposter Fred De Mara; the Oscar-nominated "Captain Newman, M.D." (1963), as a streetwise officer who makes life difficult for military doctor Gregory Peck); and Blake Edwards' Oscar-winning slapstick comedy "The Great Race" (1965), which later became a cult hit, thanks to repeated TV airings. There was also the surreal sight of an animated, Stone Age version of Curtis â¿¿ named, naturally enough, Stony Curtis â¿¿ in a 1965 episode of "The Flintstones" (ABC, 1960-66). But by the mid-sixties, Curtis' career was beginning to show signs of a slowdown. Now entering his forties, Curtis' matinee idol looks were changing â¿¿ most notably, his lush head of hair â¿¿ and he was losing ground as a leading man to younger actors. His personal life was undergoing changes as well; after carrying on an affair with 17-year-old German actress Christina Kauffman, his co-star in the costume drama "Taras Bulba" (1962), he split from Leigh and married Kauffman in 1963. The union produced two daughters, Alexandra (born 1966) and Allegra (born 1968) before they divorced in 1968.
Curtis fell back on his comic chops to essay middle-aged cads and the like in lightweight comedies like "Don't Make Waves" (1967) with Sharon Tate and "Not with My Wife, You Don't" (1966). He also began turning up in European features â¿¿ mostly forgettable fare like "Monte Carlo or Bust" (1969) â¿¿ and even on episodic television. Curtis did, however, manage to remind moviegoers of his talent with a chilling performance as real-life killer Albert De Salvo in Richard Fleischer's ble
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In his autobiography, Curtis wrote of a brief affair with Marilyn Monroe before she had become a star. They would later co-star together in "Some Like It Hot".
"I was the handsomest kid in town," he says, of his early days as a star. "But I happened to be Jewish and I was portrayed as a homosexual when it was something not to be talked about.
"The pain of being ostracised, vilified, denied, not having a relationship, all those feelings we romp through as young people, have subsided. But I don't forget anything. I was driving along in the car the other day and I remembered some girl, Rita, was despicable to me and I got angry and then I wonder what I'm angry about. They're dead. Forget about it." --Curtis on his treatment by Hollywood in the days before he achieved stardom, quoted in London's The Daily Telegraph, March 20, 2001.
On his relationships with his children, Tony Curtis told London's The Daily Telegraph (March 20, 2001): "I did the best job I could; I had to work just to give the money so they could go to fancy schools, but their mothers hated me and that hate permeated through them. When they came for weekends, I could feel their animosity. ... every one of them is realising I did the best I could do when I did it. All I could give them was affection. I never slapped them. I was always on best behavior."
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