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Tony Curtis

His career spanned six decades however he was very popular in the 1950s and early 1960s. He acted in more than 100 films in roles covering a wide range of genres, from light comedy to serious drama. 

Tony Curtis

Filmography

1949      

Criss Cross

City Across the River

The Lady Gambles

Take One False Step

Johnny Stool Pigeon

How to Smuggle a Hernia Across the Border

 

1950      

Francis

Woman in Hiding

I Was a Shoplifter

Sierra

Winchester ’73

Kansas Raiders

 

1951      

The Prince Who Was a Thief

 

1952      

Flesh and Fury

No Room for the Groom

Son of Ali Baba

Meet Danny Wilson

 

1953      

Houdini

All American

Forbidden

 

1954      

Beachhead

Johnny Dark

The Black Shield of Falworth

 

1955      

So This Is Paris

Six Bridges to Cross

The Purple Mask

The Square Jungle

 

1956      

Trapeze

The Rawhide Years

 

1957      

Mister Cory

The Midnight Story

Sweet Smell of Success

 

1958      

The Vikings

Kings Go Forth

The Defiant Ones

The Perfect Furlough

 

1959      

Some Like It Hot

Operation Petticoat

 

1960      

Who Was That Lady?

The Rat Race

Spartacus

Pepe

 

1961      

The Great Impostor

The Outsider

 

1962      

Taras Bulba

40 Pounds of Trouble

 

1963      

The List of Adrian Messenger

Captain Newman, M.D.

 

1964      

Paris When It Sizzles

Wild and Wonderful

Goodbye Charlie

Sex and the Single Girl

 

1965      

The Great Race

Boeing Boeing

 

1966      

Chamber of Horrors

Not with My Wife, You Don’t!

Arrivederci, Baby!

 

1967      

Don’t Make Waves

On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who…

 

1968      

Rosemary’s Baby

The Boston Strangler

 

1969      

Monte Carlo or Bust!

 

1970      

You Can’t Win ‘Em All

Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came

 

1975      

Lepke

 

1976      

The Last Tycoon

 

1977      

Casanova & Co.

 

1978      

The Manitou

Sextette

The Bad News Bears Go to Japan

 

1979      

Title Shot

 

1980      

It Rained All Night the Day I Left

Little Miss Marker

The Mirror Crack’d

 

1982      

Othello, the Black Commando

Brainwaves

Bambo & Dex

 

1983      

Balboa

 

1984      

Where Is Parsifal?

 

1985      

The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal

Insignificance

 

1986      

Club Life

Banter

 

1988      

The Passenger – Welcome to Germany

 

1989      

Lobster Man from Mars

Midnight

Walter & Carlo In America

 

1991      

Prime Target

 

1992      

Center of the Web

Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time

 

1993      

Naked in New York

The Mummy Lives

 

1994      

A Century of Cinema

 

1995      

The Immortals

The Celluloid Closet

 

1997      

Hardball

Brittle Glory

Elvis Meets Nixon

Alien X Factor

 

1998      

Louis & Frank

Stargames

 

1999      

Play It to the Bone

 

2002      

Reflections of Evil

 

2003      

The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary

 

2006      

Where’s Marty?

 

2007      

The Blacksmith and the Carpenter

 

2008      

David & Fatima

The Jill & Tony Curtis Story

 

2012      

Tony Curtis: Driven to Stardom

Awards

Tony Curtis was nominated for one Best Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award for his role in The Defiant Ones (1958).

Painting is more meaningful to me than any performance I’ve ever given. ~ Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz on June 3, 1925, in Manhattan, New York, to Helen (née Klein) and Emanuel Schwartz. He did not learn English until he was five or six, delaying his schooling. His father was a tailor and the family lived in the back of the shop—his parents in one corner and Curtis and his brothers Julius and Robert in another.

His mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His brother Robert was institutionalized with the same mental illness.

When Curtis was eight, he and his brother Julius were placed in an orphanage for a month because their parents could not afford to feed them. Four years later, Julius was struck and killed by a truck. Curtis joined a neighborhood gang whose main crimes were playing hooky from school and minor pilfering at the local dime store. When Curtis was 11, a friendly neighbor saved him from what he felt would have led to a life of delinquency by sending him to a Boy Scout camp, where he was able to work off his energy and settle down. He attended Seward Park High School. At 16, he had his first small acting part in a school stage play.

Curtis enlisted in the United States Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor and war was declared. Inspired by Cary Grant’s role in Destination Tokyo and Tyrone Power’s in Crash Dive (1943), he joined the Pacific submarine force. Curtis served aboard a submarine tender, the USS Proteus, until the end of the Second World War. On September 2, 1945, Curtis witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay from his ship’s signal bridge about a mile away.

Following his discharge from the Navy, Curtis attended City College of New York on the G.I. Bill. He then studied acting at The New School in Greenwich Village under the influential German stage director Erwin Piscator. His contemporaries included Elaine Stritch, Harry Belafonte, Walter Matthau, Beatrice Arthur, and Rod Steiger. While still at college, Curtis was discovered by Joyce Selznick, the notable talent agent, casting director, and niece of film producer David O. Selznick.

In 1948, Curtis arrived in Hollywood at age 23.

When he was placed under contract at Universal Pictures, he changed his name from Bernard Schwartz to Tony Curtis. It is also the same studio where he met unknown actors Rock Hudson, Julie Adams and Piper Laurie. The first name was from the novel Anthony Adverse and “Curtis” was from Kurtz. a surname in his mother’s family. Although Universal Pictures taught him fencing and riding, in keeping with the cinematic themes of the era, Curtis admitted he was at first interested only in girls and money. Neither was he hopeful of his chances of becoming a major star.

Curtis’s uncredited screen debut came in Criss Cross (1949) playing a rumba dancer, dancing with Yvonne de Carlo. The male star was Burt Lancaster who would make a number of films with Curtis.

In his second film, City Across the River (also in 1949), he was credited as “Anthony Curtis”. He had four lines in The Lady Gambles (1949) and a bigger part in Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949). He could also be spotted in Francis (1950), Woman in Hiding (1950), and I Was a Shoplifter (1950).