Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tony Curtis Interview, 10/14/08

For a while I had a thought of suggesting Tony up for honorary KV membership based upon the LES and Seward Park link. He did also help give the world Jamie Lee, but...
Anyway, a bonafide KVer always has the option of putting his or her choice for nomination and letting an online poll decide.
from an amazon review of his book
Bernie Schwartz was born into a semi-dysfunctional Jewish family in New York in 1925. Bernie's family barely got by financially, but always had more than enough arguments between his Mother and Father to go around. Facing unhappiness morning-noon-and-night at home... and harsh anti-Semitism out in the streets... Bernie's only refuge... was his love of the movies. Any money he would earn whether from selling newspapers or shining shoes was spent on going to the movies. Bernie's dream was to one day be in the movies. His dream would eventually come true... under the name of TONY CURTIS!
When Bernie was ten years-old, he and his younger brother Julius, who was six, were put in an orphanage for two weeks... a time that seemed like an eternity and would affect the future movie star for his entire life. As Bernie entered his teens he was made aware of his good looks by the way females started responding to him, and also by the way some guys would accuse him of being gay. His Mother would always make him take care of Julius and that would require Bernie to take his younger brother with him when he hung out with his friends. Most thirteen-year-old kids wouldn't want their nine-year-old brother hanging around with them when they were with their friends, so on one such occasion Bernie told Julius; "Go play with your own freakin' friends." Julius went on his own and didn't come back that night... and then the cops came to the door. Julius was hit by a truck and died very soon after. This was another major influence on the eventual psyche of Tony Curtis the man.
Bernie was so unhappy at home... and had no interest in school... so in 1942 during World War II, despite being only sixteen-years-old he enlisted in the Navy by forging his Mother's signature.
"FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I TASTED THE UNBELIEVABLE FREEDOM OF BEING ON MY OWN. MY MOTHER WASN'T SCREAMING. MY FATHER WASN'T SITTING THERE LOOKING MOROSE. ALL AROUND ME WERE THE EAGER YOUNG FACES OF GUYS LIKE ME, AND WE ALL BECAME FRIENDS. I ENJOYED THE NAVY BECAUSE OUR COUNTRY LOOKED AFTER US. THE NAVY WAS MY SURROGATE FAMILY. I HAVE TO SAY THAT I TOTALLY ENJOYED THE NAVY EXPERIENCE." When he got out of the Navy thanks to the GI bill he got involved in acting classes and did some theatre, and got discovered and sent to Hollywood and signed a contract with Universal Studios... and as they say the rest is history. But as Bernie becomes TONY CURTIS... though the history shared in this book is always interesting... the view the reader sees of the person Tony becomes is less than flattering. This in no way takes away from the enjoyment of the book... it just does not leave the reader with a very high perspective of Tony Curtis the person.
From falling in love with a young unknown Marilyn Monroe... and then both going their separate ways to pursue fame... Tony throws around his bedroom conquests like someone throwing away a no-deposit-no-return bottle. Curtis unabashedly drops sexual partners names... including ones he married... and shamelessly tells of his unconscionable continual cheating with women during numerous marriages. From Marilyn... to Anita Ekberg... to Yvonne De Carlo... to Janet Leigh (married)... to Gloria De Haven... to Playboy Bunnies (numerous) Christine Kaufman (who was seventeen when they started their tryst... and he was still married to Janet Leigh at the time... and he was thirty-seven and she was eighteen when he married her)... to Natalie Wood... to Penny Allen (married)... to Susan Hampshire... and many more. Yet when Christine fooled around on him, he had the audacity to say: "I FELT CHRISTINE HAD VIOLATED MY TRUST, WHICH MADE ME WANT TO EXPLODE. SURE, I HADN'T ALWAYS BEEN FAITHFUL TO HER, BUT I'D ALWAYS BEEN DISCREET. AND I'D ALWAYS FIGURED THAT AFTER I'D HAD A LITTLE FUN I'D GO HOME TO THE WOMAN I LOVED MOST OF ALL."
This book takes you through his later years which included cocaine addiction and on into his eighties. As I said earlier... when you are done reading this book, you may not think much of Tony Curtis the man... but you will have enjoyed the journey.

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