Tony Curtis passed away last night. When I heard the news this a.m., I didn’t think about his roles in Spartacus or Some Like It Hot. All I could think was that Tony Curtis had onced kissed me.
I had gone to the Magic Castle in Hollywood for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the film Houdini. The film was preceded by a short interview with Curtis. He was funny and articulate. Clearly, the man was in his element in front of a crowd of admirers. As much as I loved the film, I had not planned on going. I went because I have a friend who specializes in recreating Houdini Seances and speaking about. Houdini.
After the interview with Curtis came the film screening. Following that was a reception downstairs where his art work, copies of his autobiography, and various publicity photos were available to purchase. He happily signed posters and headshots and chatted with the people there.
As the evening wore on, the crowd thinned. Later, he was back upstairs for photos in the Magic Castle’s Houdini room. There were still lots of people crowding around and hoping to talk with Tony Curtis. That’s when it happened. That’s when Tony Curtis kissed me.
I had stood back on the edge of the crowd. My friend had wanted to shake Curtis’s hand, and perhaps get his picture taken with Tony Curtis. I admired Tony Curtis, but didn’t feel the need to press the flesh. He saw me standing off on the side and said, “Come here, my dear.” He patted the cushion next to where he was. I came over and sat down. He asked me, “What’s your name?” I told him, “Naphtalia.”
“A beautiful name and a beautiful lady,” he said. Then he took my hand and kissed it. It was only a moment, but what a moment! In that moment, I was alone with Tony Curtis. The crowds and everyone else ceased to exist. He was old and frail. He got around in a wheelchair. Still it was Tony Curtis and he was still suave and charming. In that moment as everyone else looked on, for just a moment, I was alone with Tony Curtis.
He went back to talking to people. It was a fleeting moment. It was my Hollywood moment.
I have always loved Tony Curtis movies. My favorites are The Great Race, Some Like It Hot, and Trapeze. Of course, there are other great movies like The Sweet Smell of Success, Spartacus, and Houdini. Of all the roles he ever played, my favorite was just Tony Curtis as himself. My favorite scene, the one where he kissed me.