Oscar-nominated screen legend and artist Tony Curtis has died. He was 85.
The actor had been in failing health for the last few years, and as recently as July had reportedly been hospitalized for asthma issues. He died of cardiopulmonary arrest at his home in Nevada on Wednesday night.
Curtis’ star was permanently hitched to the comedy “Some Like it Hot,” in which he starred as a jazz singer alongside Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. But it was a drama that got him an Oscar nomination — 1959’s “Defiant Ones,” co-starring Sidney Poitier. Curtis reportedly always felt that he had a knack for drama as well as comedy, and rated his performance in 1968’s “The Boston Strangler” as his personal best.
Tributes and messages from family and friends have been arriving over the airwaves and Internet since the news of Curtis’ passing broke sometime yesterday. His actress daughter Jamie Lee Curtis has been the one to come forward to represent his family, calling her father “the king of cool.”
Curtis was a successful artist and a popular talk show guest in his later years due to his boundless personality and wealth of Hollywood stories. That’s the stage I most remember him on, to be frank. I’ve seen “Some Like it Hot” and “The Defiant Ones,” and they’re both great movies,with great performances. AFI was right to name “Some Like it Hot” the greatest comedy of the 20th century, as it’s just about perfect. And who can fault the gritty determination that Curtis and Poitier both display in “The Defiant Ones”?
But it’s the talk show appearances I remember most. Maybe it’s a generational thing, I don’t know — I’m young. But for me, it was Curtis bounding onto the stage to talk with the ladies of “The View” and other appearances like it that stuck. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes sharing a little too much information, Curtis was an energetic force to be reckoned with. That’s what I remember most, that, like Gloria Stuart, another classic Hollywood actor we lost this week, Curtis was how I’d like to be when I got older. He seemed to very much enjoy life, and it showed.
Xan Brooks, “Tony Curtis dies aged 85.” Guardian.co.uk
Claudia Luther, “Tony Curtis dies at 85; actor was star of ‘Some Like It Hot’ and ‘Sweet Smell of Success'” LaTimes.com
Andrew Pulver, “Tony Curtis: ‘The king of cool is on his way up, with syrup.” Guardian.co.uk