Actor Tony Curtis, star of Some Like It Hot, dies at 85 (Roundup)
Sep 30, 2010, 14:36 GMT
New York - Actor Tony Curtis, star of Some Like It Hot and other top Hollywood comedies, has died at the age of 85, his daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, told media Thursday.
Curtis died after a serious illness late Wednesday in Henderson in the US state of Nevada, where he had been living recently.
A county coroner confirmed to US media that the New York-born actor died at home.
A German gossip magazine, Bunte, quoted the German actress Christine Kaufmann, who was the second of his five wives, saying, 'I am sadder than I realized I was going to be. It seems like an era is over.'
Kaufmann was married to Curtis from 1963 to 1967. He said of her later, 'I should never have let her go.' They had two children.
His last wife, Jill Vandenberg, a tall, blonde horse-riding instructor he married in 1998, was at his deathbed.
Born Bernard Schwartz in New York's tough, poor Bronx district, he adopted the stage name Tony Curtis as his acting career bloomed.
Though he never won an Oscar, the handsome leading man was admired as one of the Hollywood greats and was notorious as a womanizer.
The New York Times asked Curtis two years ago what he would like to see engraved on his tombstone. He answered: 'Nobody's perfect.'
The phrase is the last word in Some Like It Hot, a 1959 comedy he made with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon about two men on the run who disguise themselves as women.
Curtis, who was overweight toward the end and worn by years of illness, only narrowly survived pneumonia three years ago, and had a stay in hospital this summer after an asthma attack.
His first big movie appearances were as a tough New York street kid, a role he knew from life. His father, Mono Schwartz, had been a noted actor in Hungary, but scraped along in New York as a poor Jewish tailor. Curtis' mother was schizophrenic.
Curtis often portrayed darker characters such as murderers and pirates in more than 100 movies. But he also played comedy roles.
In his 1958 movie, The Defiant Ones, he and Sidney Poitier played jailbreakers handcuffed to one another. Curtis and Roger Moore dazzled in a 1971/1972 television series, The Persuaders, as two crime-solving playboys.
Among his last contracts was a role in 2008 for Egyptian-born director Alain Zaloum in David and Fatima, a love story set in Jerusalem. As an old man he also made a tourist promotion film for Hungary, his father's old homeland.
In his latter years, Curtis also devoted himself to art, selling his paintings for thousands of dollars apiece and creating collages, which he called Time Boxes, of old letters, keys and timepieces.
Jamie Lee Curtis, a daughter from his first marriage to Janet Leigh, became a major star in her own right with her roles in Halloween and A Fish Called Wanda.