Film Star Tony Curtis Dead At 85

Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis

According to People Magazine:

“Tony Curtis, one  of the beefcake screen stars of the 1950s who went on working for the next four decades, has died, his daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, told Entertainment Tonight. The cause was cardiac arrest in his Las Vegas home early Wednesday, the Clark County coroner told the Associated Press.

The star was 85 and had been admitted to a Las Vegas hospital for tests in mid-July after he had trouble breathing.

Curtis, who also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nearly died when he contracted pneumonia in December 2006 and remained in a coma for several days.

‘Good-Looking Kid’

Unlike another pretty face of his generation, Marlon Brando, who at least took his early screen roles seriously, Tony Curtis wasn’t entirely about the performance. “I was a good-looking kid,” he admitted to PEOPLE in 2008. “That’s the only reason I got into the movies.”

In all, there were more than 150 movies, which took place along with an equally extravagant Hollywood high life: six wives, romances with starlets from Marilyn Monroe to Natalie Wood and six kids he candidly admitted he often failed – including Jamie Lee Curtis. Nor did he make a secret of his real name – Bernie Schwartz – or his onetime drug use, or his trips to the shrink to deal with debilitating depression.

Tragic Childhood

Born in Manhattan’s tough Hell’s Kitchen, Curtis grew up in the Bronx, the son of a Hungarian-Jewish immigrant tailor. Tragedy as well as poverty stalked the family. Older brother Julius was killed at 12 by a truck. Younger brother Robert was institutionalized as a schizophrenic. A high school dropout after one year, Curtis served a WWII Navy hitch, including two years aboard a submarine – experience he leaned on for one of his favorite movies, opposite his childhood hero Cary Grant, in 1959’s Operation Petticoat.”

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