Budapest, Hungary – An exhibition on Hollywood star of Hungarian descent Tony Curtis will open in August in the city of Mátészalka, located in the north-eastern part of the country and home-town of Curtis’ parents.
The exhibition will celebrate the life of the movie celebrity and showcase a wide range of his personal effects and paintings, donated by Curtis’ widow, Jill-Curtis Weber to the town of Mátészalka two years ago. Tony Curtis received the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in 1996, and won two Golden Globes throughout a highly prolific career that includes more than 130 acting roles.
Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz, in New York City in 1925, the eldest of three children of Hungarian Jewish immigrants Helen Klein and Emanuel Schwartz. After enrolling in the U.S. Navy in 1942, he was honorably discharged three years later and began his acting career, studying acting at the New York Dramatic Workshop in the late 1940’s.
After changing his name and being offered a contract with Universal Studios, he started making a name for himself, with a first – albeit 2-minute long – appearance in Criss Cross (1949) with Burt Lancaster. He slowly rose to prominence in the 1950’s, with notable performances in Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Vikings (1958) and The Defiant Ones (1958) – for which he was nominated for the Oscar of Best Actor. Other movies and TV shows you might have seen him in include The Boston Strangler (1968) and the series The Persuaders (1971-1972) with Roger Moore.
Today, Tony Curtis is most famous for his roles in Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot (1959), alongside Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon, as well as Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960) with Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier (a scene between Curtis and the latter, full of sexual innuendos, became absolutely cult).
An accomplished flute player, he recovered from a cocaine addiction in the 1980’s and was also a militant anti-smoker who, as the rumor has it, helped both Michael Caine and Roger Moore to quit smoking cigarettes. In his 2008 memoir, he claimed to have had an affair with Marilyn Monroe before she – and he – became a star, while also famously claiming, referring to their love scene in Some Like it Hot, that kissing Monroe “was like kissing Hitler” – one of the most debated urban legends in Hollywood history. Tony Curtis died in 2010, aged 85.