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Actor Tony Curtis dies at Las Vegas-area home
“Tony Curtis and Eddie Fisher in the same week. It’s very sad,” said Thomas, who starred in the late-1960s sitcom “That Girl” and won Emmy, Golden Globe, Grammy and Peabody awards.
“He was funny, so very funny, very talented and a great spirit,” Thomas said of Curtis. “I found him to be a darling guy.”
Curtis perfected his craft in forgettable films such as “Francis,” “I Was a Shoplifter,” “No Room for the Groom” and “Son of Ali Baba.”
He first attracted critical notice as Sidney Falco, a press agent seeking favor with a sadistic columnist, played by Burt Lancaster, in the 1957 classic “Sweet Smell of Success.”
In her book “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” film critic Pauline Kael wrote that in the film, “Curtis grew up into an actor and gave the best performance of his career.”
Other prestigious films followed: Stanley Kubrick’s “Spartacus,” “The Vikings,” “Kings Go Forth,” “Operation Petticoat” and “Some Like It Hot.” He also found time to do a voice acting gig as his prehistoric lookalike, Stony Curtis, in an episode of “The Flintstones.”
“The Defiant Ones” remained his only Oscar-nominated role.
“I think it has nothing to do with good performances or bad performances,” he told The Washington Post in 2002. “After the number of movies I made where I thought there should be some acknowledgment, there was nothing from the Academy.
“My happiness and privilege is that my audience around the world is supportive of me, so I don’t need the Academy.”
In 2000, an American Film Institute survey of the funniest films in history ranked “Some Like It Hot” at No. 1. Curtis _ famously imitating Cary Grant’s accent _ and Jack Lemmon play jazz musicians who dress up as women to escape retribution after witnessing a gangland massacre.
Monroe was their co-star, and Curtis and Lemmon were repeatedly kept waiting as Monroe lingered in her dressing room out of fear and insecurity. Curtis fumed over her unprofessionalism.
When someone once remarked that it must be thrilling to kiss Monroe in the film’s love scenes, the actor snapped, “It’s like kissing Hitler.” In later years, his opinion of Monroe softened, and in interviews he praised her unique talent.
In 2002, Curtis toured in “Some Like It Hot” _ a revised and retitled version of the 1972 Broadway musical “Sugar,” which was based on the film. In the touring show, the actor graduated to the role of Osgood Fielding III, the part played in the movie by Joe E. Brown.
After his star faded in the late 1960s, Curtis shifted to lesser roles. With jobs harder to find, he fell into drug and alcohol addiction.
“From 22 to about 37, I was lucky,” Curtis told Interview magazine in the 1980s. “But by the middle ‘60s, I wasn’t getting the kind of parts I wanted, and it kind of soured me. … But I had to go through the drug inundation before I was able to come to grips with it and realize that it had nothing to do with me, that people weren’t picking on me.”
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