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Tony Curtis, 'beefcake' actor of more than 100 movies, dies

Tony Curtis, a suave Hollywood actor with electric blue eyes who was best known for his role opposite Marilyn Monroe in the comedy "Some like it Hot," died Wednesday at his Las Vegas area home. He was 85.

Mr. Curtis also gave compelling dramatic performances in "Sweet Smell of Success" and "The Defiant Ones," and sustained a career for more than five decades and surprised reviewers with his deft handling of a wide range of characters.

His greasy, ducktail hairdo, and an athletic build won him a devoted following, particularly among young fans.

He was featured in glossy magazines, and his clothing was torn at by enthusiastic female fans whenever he made public appearances.

An official in the studio's fashion department made him a special suit designed to give easily whenever an admirer pulled at its buttons.

In director Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot." He and Jack Lemmon played 1920s jazz musicians who disguise themselves as women in an all-girl band after witnessing a mob slaying.

Mr. Curtis had a triple role: a womanizing jazz saxophonist named Joe, who rechristens himself "Josephine" in the female orchestra and also pretends to be a sexually unresponsive oil heir in order to entice a golddigging singer played by Monroe.

Film historian Robert Osborne said Mr. Curtis's performance in "Some Like It Hot" was "so wonderful and such a surprise" and the movie is held in such high regard that it overcomes a later downward spiral of his career.

If you have any thoughts or memories of Mr. Curtis, please leave them below. And also, what was your favorite movie that he appeared in?

See his full obituary here.

By T. Rees Shapiro  | September 30, 2010; 9:52 AM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Marilyn Monroe, Some like it hot, Tony Curtis  
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Your report of Tony Curtis' death was very sad to me.
Lately, the stars of my youth seem to be dying at a great rate.
When I was born, Curtis was 15; hence in my pre-teen and teen years, he was at the initial height of his career.
While I was never much of a fan of his, I was a fan of the stars who shared the roster with him.
Especially Janet Leigh.
As the years went on, his marriages flamed out, one after the other, after which came arrests for drug use.
I lost a lot of respect for him personally, but never for his talent on the screen.
My favorite movie was, bar none, "Some Like It Hot."
He was the perfect foil for Jack Lemmon.
The subject was hilarious in its absurdity and they had the good fortune of having a talented scriptwriter.
Curtis delivered his character in snappy style with a brash wit, playing off the other's lines with energy and enthusiasm.
A wonderful, amusing movie that is timeless.
Turner Classic Movies conducted an in-depth interview with Curtis which they replayed last year and I watched with interest.
He seemed to have settled, come to terms with his career and his life; his talent for painting was a surprise.
Due to her parentage, Jamie Lee Curtis attracted my attention and I've followed her career with interest, as well.
She appears to be a person I would enjoy getting to know.
I hope one of these days, she produces a book about her memories of growing up in her volatile family, and how she negotiated all the changes and came out such a fine person, able to retain a good relationship with everyone.
Thanks for the interesting obit.
It took me back many years.
May God bless Mr. Curtis and give his entire family comfort in their grief.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | September 30, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I fell in love with Tony Curtis after seeing him in "Houdini". I was 10 years old. That combination of street-wise boy from the Bronx with beautiful eyes, both kind and full of humor, and his really great acting ability, has kept that crush alive for 57 years. My condolences to his family.

Posted by: sscott7100 | September 30, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

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