Erstellt am: 30. 9. 2010 - 16:33 Uhr
Goodbye Old Hollywood
- ORF2 zeigt in Memoriam Tony Curtis am Samstag, 2. Oktober um 13:15 "Manche mögens heiß" und am Sonntag, 3. Oktober 2010 um 14:10 "Boeing, Boeing"
His name was Bernard Schwartz. The bosses at Universal Studios, who took him under contract in 1948 when Tony was a lusciously gorgeous 23, made Bernie into Tony and let him use his mother's maiden name Kurtz... sort of. The handsome young man, of Hungarian descent, became THE most sought-after actor during Hollywood's Golden Era, both on-screen and off.
Before Bernard Schwartz became rich and famous, he went through hell. His parents were poor Hungarian Jewish immigrants and they, along with his two brothers, lived in a small shop in the Bronx where Papa Schwartz did his tailoring at the front of the store while Familie Schwartz lived in the back. Bernard's Mom beat her boys viciously and was later diagnosed as being schizophrenic. One of Bernard's brothers was later diagnosed as schizophrenic too and spent his life institutionalised. At one point, the three brothers spent a month in an orphanage because their parents couldn't afford to feed them. The brother who wasn't diagnosed as schizophrenic was still a child when he was struck and killed by a truck. Bernard Schwartz's young life was anything but glamourous.
After a stint in the US Navy during World War II, Bernard went to New York City to study acting. From there he made his way to Hollywood, got noticed for his good looks and his boyish charm and got cast in a string of amazing movies which were made all the more amazing because the cheeky young Bernard could really and truly act! Whether as the sneaky press agent Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success or as a racist escaped convict chained to Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones (an Oscar-nominated performance). Bernard - or actually Tony now - didn't shy away from any sort of role that might pigeon-hole him. Stanley Kubrick's 1960 ancient 1st century BC epic 'Spartacus' featured a homo-erotic bath scene in which bisexual Roman patrician Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier) questions young slave Antoninus (Tony Curtis) about his gender/sexual preferences, "Do you eat oysters?... Do you eat snails?" And Tony looks at him with more than just a little desire and says, "My taste includes both snails and oysters." This was a MAJOR big deal back in the day and many actors would have passed on the role because of these lines but Tony was above that.
Tony was versatile and managed to shine in dramas AND comedies. His two most popular comedies are probably 'Some Like It Hot' and 'Sex and the Single Girl', both films are remarkably timeless when it comes to comic rythmns and razor-sharp dialogue.
Speaking of razor-sharp dialogue. All of the above describes the career of Tony Curtis but what, to me, was most impressive about Tony Curtis was that he did not give a flying fuck about Hollywood protocol or any kind of protocol for that matter. This was a passionate man. A man who married six times and had six kids. A man who suffered immensely (drug and alcohol addiction on his part and the heroin overdose of his 23 year-old son in 1994), he knew how to grab life by the horns and if that meant marrying a then 17 year-old Christine Kaufmann after they co-starred in yet another epic 'Taras Bulba' in 1962 or if it meant turning his back on Hollywood to raise horses on a farm and become a much respected painter of surreal art.
Tony famously said that kissing Marilyn Monroe during the filming of 'Some Like It Hot' was like kissing Hitler. Well, he had a lot more to say about Marilyn and about Hollywood of the 40's and 50's and even the 60's. Tony Curtis gave honest, unrelenting testimony on a bygone era as experienced by a maverick in the thick of it. He may have been brash and worn the tackiest toupees in his later years but Tony Curtis was true to his heart and he was a real class act.