Tony Curtis born Bernard Schwartz was born on June 3, 1925 in Bronx, New York. Tony’s mother Helen Schwartz and his father Manuel Schwartz were both Hungarian Jewish Immigrants.
Tony grew up impoverished in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx and as a child he and his brother struggled during the era of the Great Depression. In spite of the set backs Tony enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and after being released from active duty Tony returned to New York where he used the G.I. Bill to attend school.
While Tony attended school he met many aspiring actors and began fostering relationships so that all budding actors would learn the ropes together at that school. Tony first gained notoriety in a Greenwich Village stage production of “Golden Boy” and through this performance Tony was offered a seven year contract with Universal Pictures.
In 1948 Tony relocated to California and landed a debut role alongside Yvonne De Carlo in Criss Cross (1948). Tony than went onto gain top billing rights in The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951) which co-starred Piper Laurie. In the 1950’s Tony starred in a series of big screen films that included landing a starring role in Flesh and Fury (1952) and than again with Piper Laurie in No Room for the Groom (1952) and Son of Ali Baba (1952). He also starred in Houdini (1953) which cast him opposite his than wife Janet Leigh, Pictures like Beachhead (1954), Johnny Dark (1954) and The Black Shield of Falworth (1955).
After a long stint with Universal Pictures in the 1950’s Tony signed a deal with United Artist in 1956. His first film under contract was Trapeze (1956) followed by the Sweet Smell of Success (1957) with Burt Lancaster. In 1958 Tony had a major breakthrough in his career, after starring in The Vikings (1958), Tony than landed a role alongside Sidney Poiter in Stanley Kramer’s social drama The Defiant Ones (1958).
This role earned Tony an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Tony’s string of success continued with his next feature film The Perfect Furlough (1958), and than one of the biggest roles of his career in Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon.
In 1959 Tony got an opportunity to work with his idol Carey Grant in the film Operation Petticoat. The 1960’s also provided Tony with a steady amount of success with such films as The Outsider (1961), Wild and Wonderful (1964), The Boston Strangler (1968) and Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies (1969). Tony’s rise to superstardom and fame was not only limited to films, Tony also appeared on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and was the inspiration for, and the voice of, the character “Stony Curtis” in the cartoon The Flintstones.
Tony also became a fixture in Hollywood’s Golden Era often seen hobnobbing with Hollywood’s who’s who including the legendary Rat Pack, Marlon Brando, Hugh Hefner, and Kirk Douglass.
Tony was married five times. He was first married to actress Janet Leigh in 1951, and the couple had two daughters, Kelly and Jamie Lee who is also an actress. Tony than married actress Christine Kaufmann they had two daughters, Alexandra and Allegra. Tony and Kaufmann divorced in 1967 and a year later he married Leslie Allen in 1968 and they had two sons: Nicholas and Benjamin. Tony and Allen divorced in 1982. He than wed lawyer Lisa Deutsch in 1993, and divorced her in 1994, they have no children.
Tony Curtis an American Icon passed away September 29, 2010 at the age of 85. Tony Curtis will long be remembered as phenomenal contributor to American Cinema.