Tony Curtis, one of the most loved actors of Hollywood’s golden age, died yesterday at 85. The death was confirmed by a representative of the actor’s daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, although the circumstances of the death are not yet known.
The actor was known for his cheeky, handsome looks. The son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, Curtis, who was born Bernard Schwartz, spoke only Hungarian until the age of six. He had a troubled childhood, with his mother suffering from schizophrenia and his younger brother Julius being killed in a road accident when Curtis was only 12.
After serving in the United States Navy in World War II, Curtis studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York. He was placed under contract with Universal Pictures in 1948 and his subsequent breakthrough performances included Sweet Smell of Success (1957) with Burt Lancaster and an Oscar-nominated performance as escaped convict Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones (1958). However, he is better remembered for his comedies, the most famous of which is Some Like It Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder film staring Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon.
Curtis was married six times, most famously to film star Janet Leigh, who he was with for 11 years. The couple had two children, Jamie Lee, also an actress, and Kelly Curtis. After the couple divorced in 1962, he married Christine Kaufmann, a 17-year-old German co-star in his latest film. He was quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t be caught dead marrying a woman old enough to be my wife.” His son Nicolas, by third wife Leslie Allen, died of a heroin overdose in 1994, an event that caused Curtis much pain for the rest of his life.
“I’ve made 122 movies, and I dare say there’s a picture of mine showing somewhere in the world every day,” Curtis once said. NewsFeed doubts that will ever change.