Tony Curtis was one of the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, acting in memorable films like The Defiant Ones (starring opposite Sidney Poitier), Sweet Smell of Success (with Burt Lancaster), and Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot (opposite Jack Lemmon). But life wasn't always so golden. Curtis was born Bernie Schwartz to Hungarian immigrants, and raised in the Bronx, New York. Curtis grew up poor, and didn't speak English until he was six years old, not receiving much education. At 12, he worked as a shoeshine boy outside New York's Bloomingdale's. He also supplemented his income by throwing himself under the wheels of oncoming traffic, pretending to be injured, and spent nights stealing from shops and bars. Encouraged by his father, he attended a summer camp for troubled boys and took up acting. At 17, he joined the navy, but was told his school marks weren't good enough, so he returned to acting. Ultimately, Hollywood changed his name, erased his Bronx accent, and the rest is history. Source.
Tony Curtis June 3rd, 1925- Sept. 29, 2010
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