September 30, 2010
Tony Curtis, movie star and philanthropist to Hungarian Jewish life, dies.
Tony Curtis died yesterday of cardiac arrest at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada where he had been living for the last several years.
Although I will be writing a obituary appreciation of Curtis for the next issue of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, condolences goes out to his extended family and to his many fans.
Curtis was one of the last great movie stars, a larger than life character, self-invented, who never took himself too seriously, and seemed to relish every moment of his fame and where his celebrity and talent had taken him.
He was born in the Bronx as Bernard Schwartz and after service in the Navy in World War Two became an actor whose career would span many decades and every genre, from his Oscar performance in :”The Defiant Ones” a prison movie, to his comic masterpiece of a performance in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot,” to his dramatic performance in “Sweet Smell of Success:” and compelling performances in movies as diverse as “Houdini,” “The Boston Strangler,” “Spartacus,” “The Great Race” among many others (Curtis appreared in over 100 films).
He was also instrumental in the founding and support of the Emanuel Foundation, a charity that sought to preserve and restore sites of Jewish interest in Hungary and that was a leader in the restoration of the Dohany Temple in Budapest, and in the installation of the Holocaust memorial in its courtyard, the dedication of which in 1988 Curtis attended.