8 Things You Didn’t Know About Tony Curtis

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis was an American actor who gained attention with his role in Sweet Smell of Success (1957). He went on to star in Some Like It Hot (1959) and Spartacus (1960), achieving significant fame and success. Before passing away, the actor appeared in over 100 movies and built an impressive legacy in Hollywood.

Despite his fame and success, Tony Curtis seemingly preferred a simple life and kept a low profile. The actor did not come from a rich family with multiple connections in Hollywood but would go on to become an icon of his time. Below are eight surprising facts about Tony Curtis’ life.

8. The Actor Changed His Name From Bernard Schwartz

Tony curtis in spartacus

Tony Curtis’ birth name was Bernard Schwartz. His surname, Schwartz, was of German origin as his family was of Austrian-Hungarian descent. However, he changed his name as at the start of his acting career. Having begun his acting career just after World War II,  he wanted to distance himself from his German origins. He instead took the surname “Curtis” from Kurtz, a surname from his mother’s lineage and “Tony” from the novel Anthony Adverse.

7. Tony Curtis Had A Difficult Childhood

Curtis has a difficult early childhood. His mother was diagnosed with Schizophernia, and would often beat her children. His family was also poor, with his parents sending him and his brother, Julius, to an orphanage for a month as they could not longer afford to feed them. At the orphanage, they fell victim to anti-Semitism. Years later, Julius was hit and killed by a truck, and Curtis would blame himself for this tragedy. Later, one of his brothers, Robert, would be institutionalized for Schizophernia.

6. The Actor’s First Language Wass Hungarian

Both of Tony Curtis’ parents were Hungarian-Jewish immigrants. His father, Emanuel, was from Ópályi, in Northeastern Hungary. On the other hand, his mother, Helen, was from Nagymihály – a town now making part of modern-day Slovakia. Having both parents of Hungarian descent, it did not come as a surprise that his family used only Hungarian at home. Hungarian, then, became Curtis’ first language, and he was unable to speak another one until he was six. This inability hindered him from going to school earlier.

5.  Tony Curtis Briefly Dated Marilyn Monroe

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Tony Curtis

Marilyn Monroe is widely regarded as one of the most popular actresses of all time. She is known for her roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, and How to Marry a Millionaire. Interestingly, before they both found fame Curtis and Monroe briefly dated. They would both go on to star in Some Like it Hot.

4. He Was Married Six Times

Tony Curtis’ first marriage was to Janet Leigh from 1951 to 1962, with whom he had two daughters, Kelly Lee Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis. His next marriage was to Christine Kaufmann which lasted from 1963 to 1968. Together, they had two daughters, Alexandra Curtis and Allegra Curtis. The third marriage with Leslie Allen, whom he married in 1968. The couple had two sons Nicholas Curtis and Benjamin Curtis before getting divorced in 1982. Two years later came his fourth marriage – with Andrea Savio – which lasted until 1992. Nearly a year later, he married Lisa Deutsch, but the marriage did not make it to its second anniversary. Lastly, he married Jill Vandenberg in 1998. Vandenberg outlived him and stayed as his wife until his death in 2010.

3. Tony Curtis’ Daughters Are Notable Actresses

Jamie Lee Curtis

As mentioned, Tony Curtis is father to Jamie Lee Curtis, Kelly Curtis, and Allegra Curtis. Jamie Lee Curtis is Academy Award winning actress and scream queen known for her roles in the Halloween franchise, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Knives Out, Freaky Friday, The Fog, and more. Kelly Curtis, is also known for her roles in The Devil’s Daughter and Magic Sticks while Allegra Curtis has appeared in both English and German language projects including Das Gold der Liebe.

2. Tony Curtis Served In The United States Navy During The Second World War

Tony Curtis joined the US Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He primarily served in the Pacific theater during the conflict aboard the USS Proteus, a submarine tender. Curtis was among the witnesses of the surrender of Japan, which took place in the bay of Tokyo, in his ship a mile away. For his service to his country, he was awarded following military awards – the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

1. Awards And Recognition

Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier

Tony Curtis received several awards and nominations during his storied career. He was given his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. He also received the Distinguished Hollywood Film Artist Award at the 1997 St. Louis International Film Festival. What’s more, he won the Grand Prix Special des Ameriques at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival. He was also nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Defiant Ones opposite Sidney Poitier.

READ NEXT: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis

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