A director once said to Harrison Ford, "The minute you saw Tony Curtis on screen, playing a grocery delivery boy, you knew he was going to be a star," to which Ford replied, "I thought he was supposed to be a grocery delivery boy." Well, there are movie stars, and there are actors. Tony Curtis happens to be both.
Back in 1999, "Private Screenings" host Robert Osborne interviewed Tony Curtis and the result is a candid interview punctuated with humor, some regret and some anger. In his heart, Curtis never left Manhattan's east side, never lost his competitive spirit and never stopped being a scrappy, resourceful and creative individual. A love for the movies and an adoration for the elegant stars such as Cary Grant lifted him out of his circumstances. Why did he enlist in the navy? "Because Cary Grant made a movie called "Destination Tokyo" and Tyrone Power made a movie called "Crash Dive." Curtis talks about his early days in Hollywood and how his looks got in the way of getting good roles at first; his marriage and divorce from Janet Leigh; the stars with whom he worked, including Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster; and that infamous scene in "Spartacus." He speaks empathetically about Monroe and kindly about Douglas and Lancaster. Having worked for Tony, I can say the truth is somewhere in between.
This episode of Private Screenings is 9 years old, and Curtis is now approaching 83, an age he never thought he'd see. Since that interview, his son Nicholas has died of a drug overdose, he nearly died from pneumonia, and he's moved to Las Vegas. It doesn't matter where he goes
he'll always be a tough New Yorker, a great storyteller -- and feel a
little bit like an outsider.
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