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Some like a defiant one.
September 30, 2010 4:07 AM   Subscribe

Tony Curtis, Hollywood Legend, Navy Man, star of The Defiant Ones, Some Like It Hot and The Great Race, has passed away.

A Life in Photos. More Photos.

They don't make 'em like they used to.
posted by crossoverman (76 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
And here I thought he was immortal.

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posted by Spatch at 4:08 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sad day.

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posted by IvoShandor at 4:11 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by iviken at 4:11 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:12 AM on September 30, 2010


Aw.

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(That Daily Mirror '10 things you need to know about the screen legend' article should be re-titled '10 things you need to know about the screen legend if you can't access Wikipedia')
posted by i_cola at 4:14 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by lapolla at 4:14 AM on September 30, 2010


I prefer to think he's gone yonder to da castle of his fodder.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:16 AM on September 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


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posted by ZeroAmbition at 4:18 AM on September 30, 2010


And guest star on The Flintstones.
posted by marxchivist at 4:22 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


He starred in one of my top five: Sweet Smell of Success. A terrific, terrific actor.

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posted by dirtdirt at 4:24 AM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


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posted by Scoo at 4:28 AM on September 30, 2010


He reminded me so much of Robert Downey Jr.

And Robert Downey Jr is an acting genius. Check his work on the Tropic Thunder special commentary. He had the two comedians, Jack Black and Ben Stiller, in stitches [and in awe] the whole time. Woops... but this ain't about his doppelganger. I'll save it for another time.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:31 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I grew up watching tony Curtis movies. One of my favorite lines was, "I came from a neighborhood called Noah's Ark. If you didn't travel in pairs, you just didn't travel."-Operation Pettycoat. Not to mention he was killer in "Some Like It Hot." I even got a kick out his performance in "Lobster Man from Mars."

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posted by miss-lapin at 4:41 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by donajo at 4:41 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by briank at 4:51 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by MythMaker at 4:53 AM on September 30, 2010


When I lived in London in the early '70's I knew an author, Victor Bokris, whose best known 'haiku' was

Tony Curtis hurt his penis.

Didn't know Tony Curtis had such an arduous childhood and life.

May he rest in peace.
posted by nickyskye at 4:53 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by tommasz at 5:00 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by asok at 5:03 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by HandfulOfDust at 5:09 AM on September 30, 2010


"I've made 122 movies and I daresay there's a picture of mine showing somewhere in the world every day of the week."

He'll be remembered for his bigger roles, of course, but he was really good in many lesser-known movies, too, like "The Outsider," in which he played Ira Hayes, the American Indian Marine who was at Iwo Jima and had to deal with discrimination and hatred when he came home from the war.

The Guardian has it right when it says that Curtis was "one of the last great stars of Hollywood's golden age." There just aren't that many stars of his magnitude from that era alive anymore.
posted by blucevalo at 5:20 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope he's way up high, where the air is balmy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:21 AM on September 30, 2010


Say hi to Marilyn for us, Mister Curtis.
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:22 AM on September 30, 2010


thank you, Mr. Curtis, for teaching me long ago that we all are Spartacus

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posted by jammy at 5:23 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'M SPARTACUS!
posted by steef at 5:24 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to mention Manitou!
posted by steef at 5:26 AM on September 30, 2010


You're dead, son. Get yourself buried.

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posted by dobbs at 5:32 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by Joe Beese at 5:42 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by Halloween Jack at 5:43 AM on September 30, 2010


:(
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posted by biscotti at 5:56 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by jquinby at 5:57 AM on September 30, 2010


Damn. Too many of these lately.

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posted by Splunge at 6:01 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by jadepearl at 6:05 AM on September 30, 2010


From theDefiant ones, The Boston Strangler, Some like it Hot, to Houdini. Some of my avorite movies. R.I.P.
posted by Gungho at 6:09 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


We are all Spartacus in our own special way.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:10 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was a giant. The Defiant Ones was a truly great film - a pretty strong statement, for its time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:13 AM on September 30, 2010


My wife was working in a Yorkville, Toronto clothing store back in the 80s when he came in to browse. She sidled up and asked him quietly if his name was Tony. He gave her a big smile, "Why, yes it is!" She said, "Thankyou!"
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:17 AM on September 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


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posted by Artful Codger at 6:19 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by MikeMc at 6:20 AM on September 30, 2010


Very, very sad passing.

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posted by dbiedny at 6:26 AM on September 30, 2010


I just saw Sweet Smell of Success for the first time a couple of weeks ago. What an incredible film.
Tony Curtis was awesome.
posted by heatvision at 6:30 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


What. A. Guy.
Viszontlátásra, and watch out for my Grandma.
She's still hot for your ass.
posted by Duke999R at 6:38 AM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nobody's perfect.

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posted by Wolof at 6:43 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll be watching The Great Race (highbrow choice, I know) for the nth time tonight, laughing the whole way through—and my kids will watch it tonight for the first time, I think. I know they'll love it like my dad and I do. The Great Leslie was indeed great and provided valuable entertainment "for those who may follow."
posted by theredpen at 6:43 AM on September 30, 2010


From "Bambi vs Godzilla" by David Mamet:

Having grown old ... I am free to speak my own. I can say whatever I want...

There are, of course, limits. The Constitution of the United States, that lovely document, draws the line at advocating violent overthrow of the government, and the usage of the British Isles has an unwritten caveat barring criticism of Laurence Olivier.

But I just can't take it anymore, and I will, like Ayn Rand's Atlas, shrug the now intolerable burden.

I can't stand Laurence Olivier's acting. He is stiff, self-conscious, grudging, coy, and ungenerous. ... We speak of the art and artists who move us not with reverence but with love. And I cannot love Oliver's performances.

Who, then, will I class against him? What shibboleth, you wonder, will I list to augment your umbrage?

Here I pause and imagine that you have beaten me to the punch and have correctly deduced that I am about to report my love for Tony Curtis.

You may snort with contempt and recall his Broolynese "Yonda stands da castle of my faddah." But I will name, in support, but two of his performances. To the mention of the first, you will smile with love; those who know the second will not sagely in agreement:

"Some Like It Hot" and "The Boston Strangler."

The fist is the perfect comic turn. ... He plays low comedy high as it gets, and it would have been enough. ... in the third reel, he has to throw on drag. He joins an all-girl band to escape the wrath of Al Capone. And he does the travesty not only as well as it can be done but better than anyone has ever seen it. He plays a girl for keeps. He believes it, and we believe it. Then, dear reader, and I know you are nodding along with the report, he transforms himself into a millionaire in yachting costume and does the world's best imitation of Cary Grant.

This is a performance one wishes to hug to one's chest. It is the perfection of comic acting -- idiosyncratic, loving, involved, and perfectly true.

Now we see him as "The Boston Strangler." He plays Albert DeSalvo, the murderer. The camera follows him through various quite grisly stalkings and killings. we are shocked at the seeming reason for his motivation. These acts make perfect sense to the actor -- and so we see not a monster ...

posted by grumblebee at 6:59 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by condour75 at 7:17 AM on September 30, 2010


RIP Stony Curtis.
posted by rocket88 at 7:18 AM on September 30, 2010


The Great Race was a favorite movie in my family growing up, and I just shared it with my son a few months ago. Yesterday I happened to com across the American Film Institute's Top 100 comedies list, with Some Like it Hot at the top, and chuckled to myself, "That's a great one but not even my favorite Tony Curtis/Jack Lemmon comedy."
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posted by planetkyoto at 7:22 AM on September 30, 2010


Looks like Max finally pushed the right button.

I hope The Great Leslie rests in peace.


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posted by Man with Lantern at 7:27 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


When Curtis is coming unglued and starting to realize who he is in Boston Strangler, it is one of the most powerful bits of film acting I've seen. So says my 30 some odd years old memory of it. The way his voice cracks on "losing my marbles" ... good as it gets.

And on a lighter note, the Cary Grant shtick in Some Like it Hot, is an out and out hoot.

And when you look up "bedroom eyes," it's gotta be his picture.
posted by Trochanter at 7:30 AM on September 30, 2010


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My sympathies to his family. Jamie Lee Curtis is a real nice lady.
posted by spec80 at 7:30 AM on September 30, 2010


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Another call-out for Sweet Smell of Success; if that had been his only piece of work, he'd still have been a great one.
posted by Pliskie at 7:31 AM on September 30, 2010


The interview Curtis gave to Robert Osborne was amazing--he was energetic, witty and surprisingly self-effacing and grateful.

When the Great Leslie's smile "sparkled," it was both funny and swoonworthy.

This made me very, very sad today. No, they most certainly do not make them like this anymore. Damn.

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posted by kinnakeet at 7:42 AM on September 30, 2010


. to a great actor, and, incidentally, one of the most entertaining gossips in Tinseltown.
posted by Skeptic at 8:00 AM on September 30, 2010


Always wanted to be as cool and get as much poon as Tony Curtis.
I thought he was immortal too.
God Bless
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posted by djrock3k at 8:09 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by kuppajava at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by HumanComplex at 8:48 AM on September 30, 2010


Very nice obit post, crossoverman. Thank you.
posted by heyho at 9:03 AM on September 30, 2010


He was good on the phone in "Rosemary's Baby".
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posted by interrobang at 9:05 AM on September 30, 2010


Sweet Smell of Success is just a brilliant film. Dark, dreadful and beautiful to watch, starring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and the New York City of my dreams. Some Like It Hot is a lovely film, but Sweet Smell of Success is almost perfect. And for that, I will always adore Tony Curtis.

Years ago, I was looking for Sweet Smell of Success to purchase on video tape. Oddly enough, it was out of print. Guy behind the counter says, "Somebody ought to buy the rights." I should've.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:07 AM on September 30, 2010


In the early eighties I was living in L.A. with a friend who was an aspiring actress. She had met and was friends with Mr. Curtis. Our answering machine had a very long intro before you could leave your message. It was a rambling story about the magic indian rope trick, really piissed a lot of callers off. All except Tony. He listened to the whole thing and his message was an eloquent continuation of our story, completely improvised! Cheers, Mr. Curtis...
posted by judson at 9:28 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by brundlefly at 9:31 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:17 AM on September 30, 2010


So long, Bernie. I'll miss you. *sniff*
posted by Lynsey at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2010


I'll always love him in Some Like It Hot, but for me Tony Curtis's best performance was in The Defiant Ones.

Godspeed, Tony.

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posted by magstheaxe at 10:53 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by cazoo at 11:12 AM on September 30, 2010


I always enjoyed his acting, and also am grateful for his amazing work in horse rescue.

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posted by OolooKitty at 12:22 PM on September 30, 2010


A salute from a former USS Proteus sailor (1976-77) and submarine veteran.

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posted by cmdnc0 at 12:45 PM on September 30, 2010


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Interview Revealed Defiant, Regretful Tony Curtis
"He was on deck on the submarine in Tokyo Bay where the final surrender occurred in World War II," recalled Las Vegas Review-Journal gossip columnist Norm Clarke, who conducted a public question-and-answer session with Curtis in April. "What a front-row seat on history that had to be."

And yet none of that seemed to provide him much comfort. He felt so frustrated by Hollywood that he retired to Las Vegas, where he and sixth wife Jill lived and where she founded a wild horse rescue. He was openly saddened that he did not transition to playing older, wiser parts, the way Paul Newman and Marlon Brando did. He earned just one Oscar nomination in his career, for "The Defiant Ones," and complained that he had to share that honor with co-star Sidney Poitier, who was also nominated.

Curtis was due to shoot his first Hollywood role in years, a Sigourney Weaver picture titled "Vamps," but his part was recast after he collapsed in July at a Costco. Jill Curtis told VegasHappensHere.com in July that losing that role depressed him. (She could not be reached for this article.)

"I don't feel like I got the movies I should've gotten," Curtis said in 2008. "I felt I deserved more than that the industry had given me. I felt I should have been considered more, with a little more respect from the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy. I don't feel like I contributed what I wanted to contribute in the movies."

posted by zarq at 1:15 PM on September 30, 2010


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posted by merelyglib at 1:18 PM on September 30, 2010


I am simply Leslie, and I am at your service.

/smile/

*ding!*

RIP, Tony. My best to Professor Fate.
posted by shallowcenter at 5:04 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Over the summer, I was watching an interview Robert Osborne of TCM did with Tony Curtis, and he said that he just wanted to be remembered as 'Tony From The Movies.' I thought that was the sweetest thing. And I can't think of any other Tony. R.I.P.

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posted by Mael Oui at 7:02 PM on September 30, 2010


"Some Like It Hot" ... he ... does the world's best imitation of Cary Grant.

I seem to recall hearing that at the premiere, Billy Wilder walked up to Cary Grant and asked him what he thought about Curtis' imitation. "I don't sound like that!" Grant supposedly replied ... sounding exactly like that. :)

I have to go with Some Like It Hot as my favorite of his movies. It's just perfect.

While Sweet Smell of Success is indeed a very good movie, I have to say that I felt like taking a shower immediately after finally watching it. I'm just saying, in case this thread inspires anyone to watch it, be prepared ...

Thanks, and RIP Mr. C.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:46 PM on September 30, 2010


I have to say that I felt like taking a shower immediately after finally watching it.

Yeah, excellent point. Sweet Smell of Success is easily as good a movie as Some Like it Hot, if not better, but it couldn't be more different. There's nothing sweet about it. Which really shows how good Tony Curtis is in both of them.

I know this is Tony's thread, but I expect he would forgive for saying: and Burt Lancaster's performance in SSoS? Damn.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:45 AM on October 1, 2010


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posted by bjgeiger at 1:24 PM on October 1, 2010


Couple of things I didn't know:

1) That Tony Curtis was still alive. For some reason, I thought he was looong dead (probably somehow related to Stony Curtis on the Flintstones, and me associating the Flintstones with being from so far before I was born)

2) That Jamie Lee Curtis was his daughter

3) That he apparently really, really liked his iPhone (enough to be buried with it).
posted by antifuse at 11:41 AM on October 5, 2010


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