Film star Tony Curtis dies at 85
- 30 September 2010
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Hollywood star Tony Curtis has died of a cardiac arrest at his US home in Nevada aged 85.
The Oscar-nominated actor, who starred in Some Like it Hot opposite Marilyn Monroe, passed away peacefully in bed, a family spokesman said.
The star received an Oscar nod in 1959 for The Defiant Ones, in which he starred with Sidney Poitier.
His career spanned six decades and he made more than 120 films including Trapeze, Spartacus and The Vikings.
Clark County coroner Mike Murphy told the Associated Press that the actor died at 2125 local time on Wednesday.
His actress daughter Jamie Lee Curtis paid tribute to her father, saying he "leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings".
"He leaves behind children and their families who loved him and respected him and a wife and in-laws who were devoted to him. He also leaves behind fans all over the world," she added.
Born Bernard Schwartz on 3 June 1925 in New York, the actor served in World War II before taking on the name Tony Curtis when he began his film career in 1949.
'A fine actor'
He began his career as a heart-throb, but became a respected actor after starring in more substantial roles, starting in 1957 with harrowing showbusiness tale Sweet Smell of Success.
He went on to appear in The Defiant Ones as an escaped racist convict handcuffed to a black escapee.
But he became best known for his role in Billy Wilder's acclaimed comedy Some Like It Hot, where he donned women's clothing.
After his star faded in the late 1960s, Curtis shifted to lesser roles and fell into drug and alcohol addiction.
In the 1970s he turned to television, starring in a number of TV series including The Persuaders! opposite Sir Roger Moore, and Michael Mann's Vegas.
Sir Roger paid tribute to the screen star, calling him "a fine actor".
"We had a lot of laughs together for about 15 months, working together every day. He was great fun to work with, a great sense of humour and wonderful ad libs. We had the best of times."
Sir Michael Parkinson, who interviewed Curtis several times, said his performance in Some Like It Hot would live forever.
"Some Like It Hot is one of the greatest comedies of all time," he said.
"Billy Wilder, did not suffer fools so for Tony Curtis to work with him and make that film shows just how good he was. He was an extraordinary man.
"Hollywood tried to make him into a sex symbol in the 1950s and 1960s but he was his own man. He was a great chatshow guest and was wonderfully indiscreet but he was very bright and did not take himself too seriously," he added.
After recovering from addiction in the early 1980s, he later became a painter whose canvases sold for as much as $20,000 (£12,600).
The actor was married six times, including to Psycho star Janet Leigh, with whom he had two children including actress daughter Jamie Lee Curtis.
He is survived by his wife, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, and six children.