Tony Curtis - Rotten Tomatoes

Tony Curtis



Originally dismissed as little more than a pretty boy, Tony Curtis overcame a series of bad reviews and undistinguished pictures to emerge as one of the most successful actors of his era, appearing in a number of the most popular and acclaimed films of the late '50s and early '60s. Born Bernard Schwartz on June 3, 1925, in New York City, he was the son of an impoverished Hungarian-born tailor, and was a member of an infamous area street gang by the age of 11. During World War II, Curtis served in the navy, and was injured while battling in Guam. After the war, he returned to New York to pursue a career in acting, touring the Borscht circuit before starring in a Greenwich Village revival of Golden Boy. There Curtis came to the attention of Universal, who signed him to a seven-year contract. In 1948, he made his film debut, unbilled, in the classic Robert Siodmak noir Criss Cross. A series of bit roles followed, and he slowly made his way up through the studio's ranks.

While 1950's Kansas Raiders was nominally headlined by Brian Donlevy, Curtis was, for many, the real draw; dark and handsome, he was hugely popular with teens and fan-magazine readers, and his haircut alone was so admired that Universal was receiving upwards of 10,000 letters a week asking for a lock of his hair. There was even a contest, "Win Tony Curtis for a week." Clearly, he was on the brink of stardom and earned top billing in his next picture, 1951's The Prince Who Was a Thief, which co-starred another up-and-comer, Piper Laurie. Despite his surging popularity, however, he still had much to learn about his craft and spent the remainder of the year training in voice, dramatics, and gymnastics. In 1952, Curtis finally returned to the screen as a boxer in Flesh and Fury. Two more pictures with Laurie, No Room for the Groom and Son of Ali Baba, followed. In 1953 Paramount borrowed Curtis to portray Houdini, which cast him opposite his wife, Janet Leigh.

Despite continued -- albeit measured -- box-office success, Curtis was roundly panned by critics for his performances, a problem exacerbated by Universal's reliance on formula filmmaking. Pictures like 1954's Beachhead (a war drama), Johnny Dark (an auto-racing tale), and The Black Shield of Falworth (a medieval saga) were all by-the-numbers products. Finally, in 1956 United Artists borrowed him for the Burt Lancaster vehicle Trapeze; not only was it Curtis' first serious project, but it was also his first true commercial smash, resulting in another long-term Universal package. Still, the studio cast him in low-rent programmers like The Rawhide Years and The Midnight Story, and he was forced to fight executives to loan him out. Lancaster tapped him to co-star in 1957's The Sweet Smell of Success, and the resulting performance won Curtis the best reviews of his career. Similar kudos followed for The Vikings, co-starring Kirk Douglas, and Kings Go Forth, a war story with Frank Sinatra.

In 1958, Curtis and Sidney Poitier starred in Stanley Kramer's social drama The Defiant Ones as a pair of escaped convicts -- one white, the other black, both manacled together -- who must overcome their prejudices in order to survive; their performances earned both men Academy Award nominations (the only such nod of Curtis' career), and was among the most acclaimed and profitable films of the year. He returned to Universal a major star and a much better actor; upon coming back, he first starred in a Blake Edwards comedy, The Perfect Furlough, then made the best film of his career -- 1959's Some Like It Hot, a masterful Billy Wilder comedy which cast him and Jack Lemmon as struggling musicians forced to dress in drag to flee the mob. Curtis next starred with his avowed idol, Cary Grant, in Edwards' comedy Operation Petticoat, another massive hit followed in 1960 by Who Was That Lady? with Leigh and Dean Martin.

For director Stanley Kubrick, Curtis co-starred in the 1960 epic Spartacus, followed a year late

Photos

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Unlawful Killing
  • Actor
2011
No Score Yet Der Passagier - Welcome to Germany (Welcome to Germany)
  • Actor
2011
No Score Yet Mister Cory
  • Actor
2011
60% Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel
  • Actor
2010
No Score Yet Il était une fois... Certains l'aiment chaud
  • Actor
2009
No Score Yet David & Fatima
  • Mr. Schwartz
2008
No Score Yet The Jill & Tony Curtis Story
  • Actor
2008
No Score Yet Unity Splash 2007: Singers
  • Actor
2007
No Score Yet Beenie Man & Bounty Killa: Peace Love & Unity
  • Actor
2006
No Score Yet Manchester Fiesta: Part 2
  • Actor
2006
No Score Yet Bounty Killer and Beenie Man: One Love Dancehall
  • Actor
2005
No Score Yet WWII Memorial: A Testament to Freedom
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet Mission: Monte Carlo
  • Actor
2001
No Score Yet Frank Sinatra Memorial
  • Actor
1999
11% Play It to the Bone
  • Ringside Fan
1999
No Score Yet Continued Adventures of Reptile Man
  • Actor
1999
No Score Yet Elvis Meets Nixon
  • Himself
1998
No Score Yet Star Games
  • Actor
1998
No Score Yet Bounty Hunters 2: Hardball
  • Wald
1997
No Score Yet 50,000,000 Joe Franklin Fans Can't Be Wrong
  • Actor
1997
96% The Celluloid Closet
  • Interviewee
1996
No Score Yet The Continued Adventures of Reptile Man and His Faithful Sidekick Tadpole
  • Jack Steele
1996
No Score Yet Not with My Wife, You Don't!
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet The Immortals
  • Dominic
1995
No Score Yet Perry Mason: The Case of the Grimacing Governor
  • Johnny Steele
1994
No Score Yet Bandit: Beauty and the Bandit
  • Lucky Bergstrom
1994
42% Naked in New York
  • Carl Fisher
1994
No Score Yet The Mummy Lives
  • Dr. Mohassid
1993
No Score Yet Center of the Web
  • Stephen
1992
No Score Yet Derrick contre Superman
  • Actor
1992
No Score Yet Hollywood Babylon
  • Actor
1992
No Score Yet Christmas in Connecticut
  • Alexander
1991
No Score Yet Prime Target
  • Marrietta
1991
No Score Yet Lobsterman From Mars
  • Actor
1990
No Score Yet Tarzan in Manhattan
  • Archimedes Porter
1989
No Score Yet Lobster Man from Mars
  • J.P. Sheildrake
1989
No Score Yet Midnight
  • Mr. B
1989
No Score Yet Sparky's Magic Piano
  • Actor
1987
No Score Yet Brainwaves
  • Actor
1987
No Score Yet Agatha Christie's 'Murder in Three Acts'
  • Charles Cartwright
1986
No Score Yet The AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards: Billy Wilder
  • Actor
1986
No Score Yet Mafia Princess
  • Salvatore "Sam" Giancana
1986
No Score Yet The Last of Philip Banter
  • Charles Foster
1986
No Score Yet The Fantasy Film World of George Pal
  • Actor
1985
73% Insignificance
  • Senator
1985
No Score Yet Club Life
  • Hector
1985
No Score Yet Portrait of a Showgirl
  • Joey DeLeon
1982
No Score Yet Brainwaves
  • Dr. Clavius
1982
No Score Yet Balboa
  • Ernie Stoddard
1982
No Score Yet Othello, el comando negro (Othello, the Black Commando)
  • Iago
1982
67% The Mirror Crack'd
  • Marty N. Fenn
1980
No Score Yet Little Miss Marker
  • Blackie
1980
100% Coal Miner's Daughter
  • Producer
1980
No Score Yet Title Shot
  • Frank Renzetti
1979
No Score Yet The Amorous Mis-Adventures of Casanova
  • Actor
1979
25% Sextette
  • Alexei Karansky
1978
43% The Manitou
  • Harry Erskine
1978
0% The Bad News Bears Go To Japan
  • Marvin Lazar
1978
No Score Yet Vega$
  • Actor
1978
No Score Yet Amorous Mis-Adventures of Casanova
  • Actor
1978
No Score Yet Sex on the Run
  • Giacomo Casanova
1977
No Score Yet The Switch or How to Alter Your Ego
  • Actor
1977
44% The Last Tycoon
  • Rodriguez
1976
No Score Yet The Amorous Mis-Adventures of Casanova
  • Actor
1976
No Score Yet Lepke
  • Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter
1975
No Score Yet Capone
  • Actor
1975
No Score Yet The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Mondego
1975
No Score Yet Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?
  • Shannon Gambroni
1970
No Score Yet Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies
  • Chester Schofield
1969
92% The Boston Strangler
  • Albert DeSalvo
1968
99% Rosemary's Baby
  • Donald Baumgart
1968
No Score Yet La Cintura di castità (On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who...) (The Chastity Belt)
  • Guerrando
1968
No Score Yet Don't Make Waves
  • Carlo Cofield
1967
No Score Yet Not With My Wife, You Don't
  • Tom Ferris
1966
No Score Yet Chamber of Horrors
  • Mr. Julian
1966
No Score Yet Arrivederci, Baby!
  • Nick Johnson
1966
No Score Yet Boeing (707) Boeing (707)
  • Bernard Lawrence
1965
74% The Great Race
  • The Great Leslie
1965
60% Sex and the Single Girl
  • Bob Weston
1964
57% Paris When It Sizzles
  • 2nd Policeman
1964
No Score Yet Goodbye Charlie
  • George Wellington Tracy
1964
No Score Yet Wild And Wonderful
  • Actor
1964
No Score Yet Captain Newman, M.D.
  • Cpl. Jackson Leibowitz
1963
69% The List of Adrian Messenger
  • Italian
1963
No Score Yet 40 Pounds of Trouble
  • Steve McCluskey
1963
No Score Yet Taras Bulba
  • Andrei Bulba
1962
No Score Yet The Outsider
  • Ira Hamilton Hayes
1961
No Score Yet The Great Imposter
  • Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr. / Martin Donner / Dr. Gilbert / B
1961
No Score Yet Pepe
  • Himself
1960
96% Spartacus
  • Antoninus
1960
No Score Yet The Rat Race
  • Peter Hammond, Jr.
1960
No Score Yet Who Was That Lady?
  • David Wilson
1960
96% Some Like It Hot
  • Joe/Josephine
1959
84% Operation Petticoat
  • Lt. Nick Holden
1959
No Score Yet The Perfect Furlough (Strictly for Pleasure)
  • Cpl. Paul Hodges
1958
81% The Defiant Ones
  • John Jackson
1958
No Score Yet Kings Go Forth
  • Cpl. Britt Harris
1958
71% The Vikings
  • Eric
1958
No Score Yet Appointment with a Shadow
  • Joe Martini
1957
98% Sweet Smell of Success
  • Sidney Falco
1957
60% Trapeze
  • Tino Orsini
1956
No Score Yet So This Is Paris
  • Joe Maxwell
1955
No Score Yet Six Bridges to Cross
  • Jerry Florea
1955
No Score Yet The Purple Mask
  • Rene de Traviere
1955
No Score Yet The Black Shield of Falworth
  • Myles
1954
No Score Yet Johnny Dark
  • Johnny Dark
1954
No Score Yet Beachhead
  • Burke
1954
83% Houdini
  • Harry Houdini
1953
No Score Yet Meet Danny Wilson
  • Man in Nightclub
1952
No Score Yet Flesh and Fury
  • Paul Callan
1952
No Score Yet No Room for the Groom
  • Alvah Morrell
1952
No Score Yet Son of Ali Baba
  • Kashma Baba
1952
No Score Yet Kansas Raiders
  • Kit Dalton
1950
100% Winchester '73
  • Doan
1950
No Score Yet Sierra
  • Brent Coulter
1950
No Score Yet Francis
  • Capt. Jones
1950
No Score Yet Johnny Stool Pigeon
  • Joey Hyatt
1949
No Score Yet The Lady Gambles
  • Bellboy
1949
No Score Yet City Across the River
  • Mitch
1949
100% Criss Cross
  • Gigolo
1949

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
No Score Yet CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
2000-2015
  • Himself

Quotes from Tony Curtis' Characters