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Viva Las Vegas: Tony Curtis goes out in high Hollywood style

Tony_curtis Somehow I knew it would be like this. Surrounded by his favorite possessions, which included a Stetson hat, an Armani scarf, driving gloves and an iPhone, Tony Curtis was eulogized today in true Las Vegas style as 400 celebs, friends and family were on hand at a public funeral to say goodbye to the 85-year-old actor, who died last Wednesday. The AP has all the details -- and after all, isn't life, death and great comedy all about the details?

I mean, unless you're Hugh Hefner or Tony Bennett, when you go, could you possibly be surrounded by a more enviable collection of old school talent than the Hollywood lion Kirk Douglas, billionaire buccaneer Kirk Kerkorian, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, ex-porn star Ron Jeremy, Vera Goulet, widow of Broadway star Robert Goulet (oh, if only RG had been around to croon one of Curtis' favorite songs) and Curtis' daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, who described her dad as "a little meshuga" but always full of life. 

Also on hand, presumably as the master of ceremonies, was Rabbi Mel Hecht, who surely must have got around to mentioning that Curtis, born in the Bronx in 1925 as Bernie Schwartz, was one of the most enduring of the early Hollywood Jew success stories. Curtis came from a time when you had to change your name, but you could keep your faith and make a nice living using the kind of sharp-edged hustle that Curtis captured so well in what was easily his best role, playing Sidney Falco, the amoral press agent in "Sweet Smell of Success."   

It sounds like the funeral was full of classic moments, with Schwarzenegger hailing Curtis for both his generosity and willingness to pose nude in Vanity Fair, saying with obvious admiration, "I mean, who has the guts to take off their clothes at the age of 80?" But my favorite line came from Curtis' widow, Jill Curtis, his sixth wife, who if my math is correct, is younger than Jamie Lee. She said that when friends would ask Curtis if he were worried about being able to keep up with a younger woman, he'd answer with mock regret: "Well, if she dies, she dies."

I guess Tony knew in his gut that he'd go first, but at least when he went out, he got the kind of fabulous Vegas sendoff that made him, for one last time, the envy of every man of his generation. 

Photo: Jamie Lee Curtis, right, and family pay their final respects at services in Las Vegas for her father, Tony Curtis. Credit: Daniel Gluskoter / European Pressphoto Agency

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And another great, entertaining human has left the planet. I will always think of Mr. Curtis as The Great Leslie in the seriously under rated film "The Great Race"- with the glint coming off his smile- a smile of mischieviousness.
Great fun (I replayed my copy of "Boeing, Boeing" in my own private homage to the Great Curtis over the weekend). Much fun and talent. Buh-bye.

rest in peace tony curtis hope wisdom norman rests in peace as well

this man should be rembered in great peace he was one the best actors in the world hope he has a lovely after life i will be hopefully be able to see you and other famous great people e.g Wisdom Norman , Elvis Presley ,Micheal Jackson R.I.P to all those people

Uhhh ... are we copying names off of medical records here? The man's name was Norman Wisdom. If you'd ever seen him in anything ... like his great portrayal in "Walking Happy" ... you'd remember it. "Wisdom Norman"???

Great article, the last line... amazing. What a great writer.

I'm writing to you as a daughter who has lost her father. No he wasn't perfect neither was mine. But what I noticed that was alike about the two, was very handsome, cockey, but loved their daughters, from their souls. I can still see my dad , cocky as hell, with that gleam in his eye at 85. He was a great actor, humerist, and I think like my dad loved much as your dad...However, Most important, he loved unconditionally.....He was always the boaster, as was my dad....but I think they came to terms with their maker in the end.......This is just one dauther to another who will always love their daddy....

"easily his best role, playing Sidney Falco, the amoral press agent in "Sweet Smell of Success." ---Really? Your subjective opinion, Patrick. I saw most of his films, including "Sweet Smell of Success." I'd say his "best role" could also "easily" be in "Some Like It Hot," "The Boston Strangler" or "The Defiant Ones."

I think Curtis surprised a lot of people with his performance in "The Boston Strangler" as they had seen him mostly in comedies. But Tony could handle serious drama with the best of them. And don't forget "Spartacus," one of my all-time fave films.

Saw him at a screening of "Some Like It Hot" last June in downtown LA at the Million Dollar theater. He was interviewed after the film and was hilarious. Truly a wonderful experience to get to hear him speak about his life.

Always one of my favorite actors - RIP!

One of Curtis' films that I am not seeing in any of his obits: 1962 THE OUTSIDER, his wonderful, poignant portrayal of Iwo Jima hero Ira Hayes. Curtis plays Pima Indian Hayes as a wonderfully simple man who lives his early life on an Arizona reservation before joining the Marines and being a part of the quartet who raise the flag over Iwo Jima. After the war Hayes does not find his place in the white world or the Indian world and so, in despair, he climbs a mountain with several bottles of liquor and drinks himself to death at the age of 32.

Tony Curtis' portrayal is nothing short of brilliant.


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