Self-serving and related in the argot of a former street kid, this story traces the metamorphosis of Bernie Schwartz, battler against anti-Semitic gangs, into Tony Curtis, screen personality. Leaving his Lower East Side Manhattan neighborhood in 1949 at the age of 23, he arrived in Hollywood with a contract that ultimately led to stardom. Writing with Paris ( Louise Brooks ), the actor dwells equally on his talents and supposedly irresistible appeal to women. To support the latter contention, Curtis lists his many lovers and four wives: first Janet Leigh, mother of two; the second and third wives, who bore two more offspring each; and his recent bride, a young law-school graduate. If Curtis's vanity didn't interfere, one could more readily sympathize with the man as a survivor of a mean childhood and the drug addiction from which he is recovering. Unfortunately, he blames most of his troubles on others, beginning with his parents. Such attacks and small thanks to benefactors ill become the hero of The Defiant Ones , Spartacus , Some Like it Hot and other films. Photos. (Nov.)
This is Tony Curtis's story in his own words, and it is a corker. His depiction of a boyhood as a poor New York City street kid, son of Hungarian immigrants, is moving as well as philosophical and is a recurring theme throughout his life and remarkably diverse career. Curtis offers a candid look at many of his films--from Criss Cross to The Vikings to Some Like It Hot . Anecdotes about famous players abound, reading read like a Who's Who of Hollywood. Curtis is pointedly open about his personal life--four marriages, six children, two tragic brothers, drug addiction, sex, art career, friendships, and more. In addition, coauthor Paris intersperses occasional ``boxed'' comments, quotes, and wonderful photos throughout the text. This is a literate, first-class ``star'' autobiography, frank and absorbing but not for the prudish. For large entertainment collections.-- Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, N.J.
Here's a surprise: a show-biz autobiography that's engagingly written, insightful--and it's by Tony Curtis, no less. Those who remember Curtis mostly for the terrible movies he made in the late 1970s and early 1980s (when he needed the money for drugs) will be surprised (there's that word again) at how many genuinely good movies Curtis made--"Sweet Smell of Success", "Some Like It Hot", "The Defiant Ones", and "Spartacus", to name a few. And some readers may also be surprised to learn that Curtis is now a well-known artist. But what will take readers aback most is Curtis' sheer honesty about himself. One gets the distinct feeling that no matter what Curtis did--or to what excesses he did it--he's not here to say he's sorry. If any aspect of his character comes through most clearly, in fact, it's his continuing ability to marvel at himself--his looks, his talent, even his grace and charm. And this self-love affair didn't start when Curtis became an actor, but when he was a street kid growing up in New York. Although this trait could easily become obnoxious, with Curtis, it's somehow endearing, perhaps because it's such a refreshing change from the false humility that most egocentric actors adopt when they turn autobiographer. Curtis' cowriter, Barry Paris, keeps his participation to interjections about Curtis' films and brief interviews with people like the actor's first wife, Janet Leigh, and old friend Walter Matthau. Letting Curtis speak for himself turns out to be a smart move--one final surprise.
Lippy memoir of actor/painter/novelist Bernard Schwartz, a hard-luck kid from gang-ridden New York who went to Hollywood in his early 20s and became known as Tony Curtis; told with Paris (Louise Brooks, 1989) inserting interviews with Curtis's friends, co-workers, and family members into the otherwise all-Curtis text. As ever, Curtis thinks well of himself, having checked both a skid in his career and addictions to cocaine and alcohol requiring two trips to the Betty Ford Clinic. Curtis's first trip to BFC didn't take, but family intervention in his yearlong slip planted him right back in the clinic for a second drying out and ego- retooling. Even so, the newer, brighter Curtis cuffs his former directorsHoward Koch, Blake Edwards, Norman Jewison, and Robert Mulliganfor not "making any effort or gesture toward me. It may sound like sour grapes, but I don't care what it sound like. That's my feeling." Meanwhile, he praises Arnold Schwarzenegger for hiring him for the Terminator's directing debut in 1992's lame TV comedy Christmas in Connecticut. Despite what many will think lapses, Curtis's buoyant self-love (Elvis allegedly copied his hair style), active sex life (modestly veiled), and rise from dashing hunk (The Black Shield of Falworth) to determined, ever-committed actor (The Boston Strangler) make for an attractive, highly readable life, filled with gods as friends (Cary Grant, Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra) and goddesses as fellow workers (Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Gina Lollobrigida) and wives (Janet Leigh, Christine Kaufmann). Aside from the addiction passages, the highlight here is the filming of Some Like It Hot, the cornerstone of Curtis's huge growth as a talent. Sometimes mean-spirited but...nobody's perfect. Could do very well. (Thirty-five b&w photosnot seen)