Remembering Tony Curtis

Operation PetticoatImage via Wikipedia 

One of the quintessential movie stars of my childhood has passed. In addition to being an enjoyable personality, Tony Curtis represented that manly, brilliant handsomeness I sought, but was never able to achieve in design. Few among us could and, anyhow, we probably wouldn't have been able to match his legendary sexual prowess. I'd need salves, lip splints, personal trainers, Wet Naps, Bufferin — I know that.

Tony Curtis was born to play comedy and shared attributes with his hero, Cary Grant, who he so nicely mimicked in the golden farce "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and appeared alongside in the popular pink submarine adventure "Operation Petticoat" (1959).

Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown in "Some Like It Hot" via YouTube

Although the studio system and the business dealt Curtis more than his fair quota of dud projects, he always appeared to give them his best. He was a fine dramatic actor, too, when allowed the chance, "Sweet Smell of Success" (1957) being the first choice of these.

My favorite Tony Curtis moment is a single second of face time. It is his introduction in the mammoth road comedy, "The Great Race" (1965), seen in the clip below after the opening title sequence. He's presented, looking straight into the camera, fully in bloom with that bright, dazzling smile. So much so, a flashing twinkle of white light emanates from his teeth. While this bit is obviously animation-enhanced (and has been much copied), it aptly illustrates his screen power, humor, and willingness to laugh at himself.

"The Great Race" Main Title and Tony Curtis via YouTube

Add up all of the screenings and I find I've spent full days of my life in the dark with Tony Curtis, maybe more, and I will continue to revisit the good memories he's left behind to glisten again.

Now, who wants pie?*

Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood in "The Great Race:" via YouTube

*With apologies to Dennis Miller

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