time that he changed his name, firstly to James Curtis, then to Anthony, and finally plain Tony. He quickly became a 'screen idol' and his haircut alone was so admired that Universal received
8). It was about this
The Autographica event was at the Hilton Hotel and I was able to get this super photograph with Tony at the drinks reception on the first night.
Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz) was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1925. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Hungary. He had two brothers, Robert (who had a mental illness) and Julius (who was killed when aged 9, by a truck).
During WW2, Curtis served in the US Navy for three years, and was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered in 1945. After the war, Curtis studied acting in New York and, because of his handsome looks, quickly got noticed.
received thousands of letters a week asking for a lock of his hair! Elvis Presley adopted Curtis's DA (Duck's Ass) hairstyle, even changing his hair colour to black to look like the actor!
Under contract with Universal Pictures, he moved to Hollywood, and made his uncredited screen debut in Criss Cross (194
Curtis has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame outside No. 6817 Hollywood Boulevard.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Hollywood legend Tony Curtis when he came to Autographica, which was held in Birmingham in April 2008.
He nearly died from pneumonia at the end of 2006, and now uses a wheelchair most of the time. Curtis admits to bedding more than a thousand women including Marilyn Monroe about whom he said, "kissing her was like kissing Hitler".
Tony Curtis has had a colourful personal life to say the least! In 1951, he married star actress Janet Leigh. This was the most famous of his six marriages and their children, Kelly and Jamie Lee, went on to become famous actresses. His other wives included German actress Christine Kaufmann (his co-star in the 1962 film Taras Bulba
Tony Curtis wrote a novel Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow in 1977 and in 1993, his autobiography was published. An updated version of the book called American Prince subsequently appeared in 2007.
Curtis also appeared frequently on television, and in 1971 co-starred with Roger Moore in 24 episodes of the TV series The Persuaders! in which he plays an American playboy Danny Wilde. In recent years, Curtis has achieved success as an artist, with his paintings fetching more than £20,000 apiece! He is also a very accomplished flautist!
Later films, like Spartacus (1960), The Great Race (1965) & The Boston Strangler (1968) brought more success.
In 1951, Curtis earned top-billing in the film The Prince Who Was a Thief, and stardom was now his!
From the 1970s onwards however, he mostly appeared in low-budget and foreign films, often playing ageing Sicilian godfathers and other Mafia types. It was at this time that his descent into alcohol and cocaine addiction began.
I got two photographs signed and my autograph book.
25-year-old Anthony Curtis in Francis
Tony Curtis in
The Prince Who Was a Thief
him at Autographica
Tony Curtis signed this photo for me when I met
Tony Curtis & Barbara Nichols in
The Sweet Smell of Success
Two of his more succcessful films of the late 1950s were The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), and The Defiant Ones (1958), for which he won an Oscar nomination. In this latter film, Curtis and Sidney Poitier play two escaped convicts, one white and one black, who are chained together and must learn to
get along in order to escape capture.
Tony Curtis & SidneyPoitier in
The Defiant Ones
In The Vikings (1958), Curtis plays the slave Eric, who competes with his warrior half-brother Einar (played by Kirk Douglas) to win the Northumbrian throne of Great Britain. Future wife, Janet Leigh also starred as the Princess Morgana.
Tony Curtis as Eric in The Vikings
Poster for the 1952 film
Curtis's enduring fame comes from his starring role in Billy Wilder’s classic Some Like It Hot (1959) where he showed off his comedy skills (as a struggling musician
Son of Ali Baba
woman in order to flee from a chasing mob), alongside Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe.
forced to dress like a
Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in
Some Like It Hot (1959)
The Boston Strangler
Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus
Tony Curtis in The Great Race
Tony Curtis & Roger Moore in
Jill Vandenberg & Tony Curtis at their home
in Henderson, Nevada
Hollywood's Walk of Fame
Tony Curtis & Janet Leigh
Curtis as a sailor on
A young Tony Curtis
Tony Curtis with a Herend vase given
to him on his 80th birthday in 2005
Tony's signature in my autograph book
Bulba) and Leslie Allen with whom he had a son Nicholas who died of a heroine overdose in 1994, aged 23. Tony Curtis has bee
been married to Jill Vandenberg since 1998.
Tony Curtis signed this photo to me at Autographica
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Tony Curtis (1925 - 2010)
Tony Curtis died on 29th September 2010.
Tony Curtis signing my copy of his autobiography
at London Expo in May 2009
With Tony Curtis at London Expo in May 2009