Curtis, Tony

Curtis, Tony
(June 3, 1925– )
   A close contemporary of STANLEY KUBRICK, Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood and grew up in Kubrick’s native Bronx, New York. Having trained on the New York stage, fresh out of Stella Adler’s Dramatic Workshop, Curtis entered the movies in 1949, with a bit part in Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross, starring Burt Lancaster, with whom Curtis would later costar three times. Partly because of his good looks, and partly because of his Bronx accent—often resulting in such absurdly delivered lines as, “Yondah is da palace of my faddah, da caliph,” in 1952’s Son of Ali Baba—Curtis endured a measure of critical ridicule early on in his career. All that changed, however, with his stunning performance as the smarmy press agent Sidney Falco in Alexander Mackendrick’s The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), for which Curtis was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award (British Academy Award) as best foreign actor. Curtis received the same nomination the following year, for his work in Stanley Kramer’s socially conscious drama The Defiant Ones.
   Not to be typecast, Curtis made perhaps an even bigger name for himself as a comic actor, especially in the films of Billy Wilder and Blake Edwards. Curtis’s singular collaboration with Wilder, Some Like It Hot (1959), is one of the last great slapstick sex comedies, which Roger Ebert deems “one of the enduring treasures of the movies. ” For Edwards, Curtis starred in four comedies, most notably 1959’s Operation Petticoat (alongside Cary Grant, whom Curtis successfully mimics in Some Like it Hot) and The Rat Race (1960). In 1959, Curtis complained about working under the studio system which had made him a star, explaining his preference to work independently:“ Sure, Universal made me a star. But they didn’t give me a chance to develop. As far as they were concerned, I could still be playing those longhaired, fresh-kid parts. Then when I became a star, they made things too easy for me. If a word was difficult to pronounce, or a scene hard to play, they would change it. There was no challenge, nothing I could really sink my teeth into. Not until I began doing things off the lot, independently, did I begin to grow as an actor. Nor was there much economic security. No matter how high my salary went, the government got 90 per cent of it. But once I started to work on independent deals, I got a piece of the picture in addition to the money. Right now, I have eight pictures working for me. It’s like an annuity, and it makes it possible for me to pick and choose those roles I think will help me grow. ”
   In his autobiography, Curtis says that Stanley Kubrick was his favorite director and a genius with the camera. “His greatest effectiveness was his oneon-one relationship with actors,” Curtis writes. Even before SPARTACUS,Tony Curtis had met with Stanley Kubrick to discuss the possibility of starring in a Harris-Kubrick production, following the success of PATHS OF GLORY. At the time, Curtis was a major star, married to the beautiful actress Janet Leigh, and the subject (or object) of countless celebrity profiles in the ubiquitous fan magazines of the day. The fact that such stars as Curtis, Gregory Peck, KIRK DOUGLAS, and others,were meeting with Kubrick indicates the extent to which the strong-willed young director had made an impression on the Hollywood establishment. Through most of the 1960s, Curtis offered up breezy work in so-called sophisticated comedies such as Sex and the Single Girl (1964), and then reestablished his dramatic reputation with his chilling portrayal of Albert de Salvo in The Boston Strangler (1968). Curtis campaigned long and hard to win the role,much as he had lobbied Kirk Douglas for a part in Spartacus. He gained almost 30 pounds and sported a false nose to make himself look more like de Salvo. The Boston Strangler proved to be Curtis’s last major film role to date, although a few minor parts in notable films have followed, such as that of the senator in Nicolas Roeg’s Insignificance (1985). Perhaps Curtis’s most unique role was as the voice of a parody of himself, “Stony Curtis,” in an episode of Hanna-Barbera’s animated series The Flintstones, in 1966. In the late 1990s he appeared in many cameos, low-budget and foreign films, and various made-fortelevision movies.
   ■ “Curtis, Tony,” Current Biography, May 1959;
   ■ “It was Type Casting,” TV Guide, September 25, 1965, p. 14+;
   ■ “Tony Curtis—Biography,” Universal International, May 18, 1951.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • CURTIS, TONY — (Bernard Schwartz; 1925– ), U.S. actor. Born in New York, the son of a Hungarian tailor, Curtis began his career on the stage in a settlement house in the Bronx. He then went from summer stock companies to off Broadway shows, and finally to… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Curtis, Tony —    1. (1946 )    Not to be confused with the Irish poet (see entry). Born in Carmarthen, West Wales, he read English at the University College of Swansea, then earned a master of fine arts degree at Goddard College, Vermont, USA. In 1994 he was… …   British and Irish poets

  • Curtis, Tony — • КЁРТИС (Curtis) Тони (наст. имя и фам. Бернард Шварц, Schwartz) (p. 3.6.1925)    амер. актёр. С 1945 на любительской и проф. сцене. В кино с 1948 (ф. Крест накрест ). Лучшие роли сыграны К. в кон. 50 х гг. в жанре психологич. драмы ( Сладкий… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Curtis, Tony — orig. Bernard Schwartz born June 3, 1925, New York, N.Y., U.S. U.S. film actor. He appeared on Broadway before going to Hollywood in 1949. He acted in adventure films, becoming known for his pretty face and his Bronx accent, then earned acclaim… …   Universalium

  • Curtis, Tony — orig. Bernard Schwartz (n. 3 jun. 1925, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.). Actor de cine estadounidense. Actuó en Broadway antes de partir a Hollywood en 1949. Protagonizó películas de aventuras y se hizo conocido por su hermoso rostro y su acento del… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Curtis, Tony — pseud. di Schwartz, Bernard …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Tony Curtis — Tony Curtis, 2007 Tony Curtis (* als Bernard Schwartz am 3. Juni 1925 in New York City; † 29. September 2010[1][2] in Henderson, Nevada[3]) war ein …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tony Curtis — ca. 1955. Nombre real Bernard Schwartz Nacimiento 3 de junio de 1925 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Curtis — Curtis, Tony (1925 ) a US actor who first became popular in the 1950s after appearing in adventure films. Later he took more serious parts in films such as Sweet Smell of Success (1957), and The Boston Strangler (1968). One of his most famous… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Tony Curtis — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Curtis et Tony Curtis (homonymie). Tony Curtis …   Wikipédia en Français

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