"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."
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