Everyone has his or her favorite Tony Curtis film, whether it’s Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon, The Boston Strangler with Henry Fonda, Trapeze with Burt Lancaster and Gina Lolabrigida, or The Great Race with Natalie Wood. After making 106 movies, it’s not surprising that this Hollywood legend has been honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards in Italy, France, Hungary, the United Kingdom, and America. He’s also been knighted in France.
The oldest of three sons of Hungarian immigrants who arrived in America with literally nothing, Tony was a member of a street gang in the Bronx by age 11. After serving a tour in the U.S. Navy, he attended City College of New York and the Dramatic Workshop in Greenwich Village, where he got his first taste of acting. Thanks to his extreme good looks, this American Dreamboat was immediately offered a Universal Pictures contract and quickly became one of the biggest silver screen idols of all time. But unlike his mentor, Cary Grant, Curtis often played characters he created for himself.
Now in his second career, Tony says he is having a lot more fun expressing himself through his art than he ever thought possible. Painting has become a way of life.
“I am so pleased that I have the advantage of doing something I really love,” he says. When at his home overlooking the Las Vegas Valley with spectacular views of the Strip, he now gets to paint almost every day. “Sometimes I’m inspired by things in my past, while other days it can be what-ever pops into my mind at the time,” he goes on to say. “But it’s the colors that really move me to where the piece is going. I will begin with a color, and lay that color in all the right places, then move to the next color almost like the pieces of a puzzle. And, I can see all the pieces perfectly fall into place on the canvas in my mind’s eye.”
Tony’s bright acrylic impressionist paintings on canvas have been favorably compared to those of Matisse. His assemblages, collages, and boxes are in the private collections of Billy Wilder, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Kathy Lee Gifford, Lew Wasserman, Frank Sinatra, Arsenio Hall, Burt Lancaster, and Kirk Douglas.
Tony Curtis originals also can be found on display at the Butler Institute of American Art, the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, the Toronto Museum, The National Hungarian Museum, Harrod’s Department Store, Spago Restaurant, and the MGM-Mirage in Las Vegas.
Still an active and energetic man, Tony Curtis recently celebrated his 80th birthday with a feature layout in Vanity Fair magazine, and an over-the-top celebration party — at the fabulous MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas — attended by the rich and famous from all over the world, including his native Hungary.
This feature story was reprinted with the kind permission of Millionaire Magazine.
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