Stars Eddie Fisher and Tony Curtis Pass Same Week

Two of the biggest Hollywood stars passed within a week of each other, first Eddie Fisher at 82 and then Tony Curtis (aka Bernie Schwartz) at 85. Though Fisher was known more for his singer and Curtis for his acting, they probably became better known in later years for their off screen exploits – following similar life paths winding their ways through ‘ booze and broads.’

They were both sons of Jewish immigrants and had to overcome the challenges of anti-semitism and poverty, no easy feat for sons of immigrants. As similar as their lives were, they both called Debbie Reynolds one of their numerous wives. Both didn’t go easily into middle and old age, with unsuccessuful comebacks during different times. Warts aside , Fisher and Curtis should be remembered as trailblazers who overcame challenges to become talented and well-deserved stars; their songs and movies remain classics to this day.

First of Two Holllwood Stars Passes

Actor Tony Curtis dies at Las Vegas home (AP)

FILE - Actor Tony Curtis is shown in this 1965 file photo. Curtis, whose real name was Bernard Schwartz, was perhaps most known for his comedic turn in Billy Wilder's 'Some Like It Hot' with co-stars Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon has died at 85 according to the Clark County, Nev. coroner. (AP Photo, File)

HENDERSON, Nev. – Tony Curtis shaped himself from a 1950s movie heartthrob into a respected actor, showing a determined streak that served him well in such films as “Sweet Smell of Success,” “The Defiant Ones” and “Some Like It Hot.”

The Oscar-nominated actor died at age 85 Wednesday evening of cardiac arrest at his home in the Las Vegas-area city of Henderson, Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy said Thursday.

Curtis began in acting with frivolous movies that exploited his handsome physique and appealing personality, but then steadily moved to more substantial roles, starting in 1957 in the harrowing show business tale “Sweet Smell of Success.”


Jamie Lee Curtis: My Dad Leaves Behind Devoted Family and Fans

Thursday September 30, 2010 03:35 PM EDT

Jamie Lee Curtis: My Dad Leaves Behind Devoted Family and Fans | Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Curtis

Tony and Jamie Lee Curtis

Darlene Hammond/Getty

Jamie Lee Curtis says her late father, Tony Curtis, who died Wednesday in Las Vegas from cardiac arrest, will be remembered as both a screen legend and family man.

“My father leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings and assemblages,” the actress, 51, said in a statement Thursday.

“He leaves behind children and their families who loved him and respected him and a wife and in-laws who were devoted to him. He also leaves behind fans all over the world,” added Curtis.


In 1958, “The Defiant Ones” brought him an Academy Award nomination as best actor for his portrayal of a white racist who escaped from prison handcuffed to a black man, Sidney Poitier. The following year, he donned women’s clothing and sparred with Marilyn Monroe in one of the most acclaimed film comedies ever, Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot.”

His first wife was actress Janet Leigh of “Psycho” fame; actress Jamie Lee Curtis is their daughter.

“My father leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings and assemblages,” Jamie Lee Curtis said in a statement Thursday. “He leaves behind children and their families who loved him and respected him and a wife and in-laws who were devoted to him. He also leaves behind fans all over the world.”

Curtis struggled against drug and alcohol abuse as starring roles became fewer, but then bounced back in film and television as a character actor.

His brash optimism returned, and he allowed his once-shiny black hair to turn silver.

Again he came back after even those opportunities began to wane, reinventing himself as a writer and painter whose canvasses sold for as much as $20,000.

“I’m not ready to settle down like an elderly Jewish gentleman, sitting on a bench and leaning on a cane,” he said at 60. “I’ve got a helluva lot of living to do.”

“He was a fine actor … I shall miss him,” said British actor Roger Moore, who starred alongside Curtis in TV’s “The Persuaders.”

“He was great fun to work with, a great sense of humor and wonderful ad libs,” Moore told Sky News. “We had the best of times.”

Curtis perfected his craft in forgettable films such as “Francis,” “I Was a Shoplifter,” “No Room for the Groom” and “Son of Ali Baba.”

He first attracted critical notice as Sidney Falco, the press agent seeking favor with a sadistic columnist, played by Burt Lancaster, in the 1957 classic “Sweet Smell of Success.”

In her book “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” Pauline Kael wrote that in the film, “Curtis grew up into an actor and gave the best performance of his career.”

Other prestigious films followed: Stanley Kubrick‘s “Spartacus,” “Captain Newman, M.D.,” “The Vikings,” “Kings Go Forth,” “Operation Petticoat” and “Some Like It Hot.” He also found time to do a voice acting gig as his prehistoric lookalike, Stony Curtis, in an episode of “The Flintstones.”

“The Defiant Ones” remained his only Oscar-nominated role.

Some Like It Hot Poster Movie 11×17 Marilyn Monroe Tony Curtis Jack Lemmon George RaftSome Like It Hot Poster Movie G 11×17 Marilyn Monroe Tony Curtis Jack Lemmon George Raft

Similar but different Stars Pass Same week: Ediie fisher

Eddie Fisher dies at age of 82

Fisher Taylor AP – **CORRECTS FISHER’S AGE AT DEATH TO 82** FILE – In this 1959 file photo, actress Elizabeth Taylor is …

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LOS ANGELES – Long before the era of Brangelina, TMZ and around-the-clock celebrity obsession, Eddie Fisher had a leading role in arguably the most explosive sex scandal of Hollywood’s golden age.

He was a music superstar and household name to millions of teenage girls who adored his crooning long songs. He was married to Debbie Reynolds — a megawatt movie star in her own right and the star of “Singin’ in the Rain.” They had a daughter Carrie who would one day go on to fame of her own.

Then Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor, and what resulted was a scandal that left no doubt about America’s love of a good-old-fashioned Hollywood romance story. The affair became a national obsession — and an early forerunner of the scandals that are now so common in the current celebrity-crazed world.

Fisher died Wednesday night at the age of 82 of complications from hip surgery, and he was remembered as much for his musical triumphs as his romances with Reynolds and Taylor.


from daughter Carrie Fisher, via Twitter from Australia:

‘My Puff Daddy passed away Wednesday night due to complications following his hip surgery. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.’

Fisher sold millions of records in the early 1950s with 32 hit songs including “Any Time,” “Oh, My Pa-pa,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Lady of Spain” and “Count Your Blessings.” His romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis period.

Fisher’s fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to Reynolds, and they quickly became known as “America’s favorite couple.” Four years later, Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor amid one sensational headline after another.

He was Taylor’s fourth husband, and the marriage lasted only five years. She fell in love with co-star Richard Burton during the Rome filming of “Cleopatra,” divorced Fisher and married Burton in one of the great entertainment world scandals of the 20th century.

An example of the obsession over the affair came in 1964 when Taylor and Burton arrived at the Los Angeles airport to what AP movie writer Bob Thomas described as a “seething, shouting, throng of newsmen.” Taylor was trying to divorce Fisher at the time, and the two camps were exchanging a war of words in the media in what Thomas called “filmdom’s most famous — and lengthiest — love epic.”

Fisher’s career never recovered from the notoriety. He married actress Connie Stevens, and they had two daughters. Another divorce followed. He married twice more.

“The world lost a true America icon,” Fisher’s family said in a statement. “One of the greatest voices of the century passed away. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.”

“He was loved & will be missed by his four children as well as his six grandchildren,” Carrie Fisher said on her Twitter account.

Carrie Fisher became a film star herself in the first three “Star Wars” films as Princess Leia, and later as a best-selling author of “Postcards From the Edge” and other books.

Edwin Jack Fisher was born Aug. 10, 1928, in Philadelphia, one of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on Philadelphia radio.

After moving to New York, Fisher was adopted as a protege by comedian Eddie Cantor, who helped the young singer become a star in radio, television and records.

Fisher had legions of teenage fans. Publicist-manager Milton Blackstone helped the publicity by hiring girls to scream and swoon at Fisher’s appearances.

After getting out of the Army in 1953 following a two-year hitch, hit records, his own TV show and the headlined marriage to Reynolds made Fisher a top star. The couple costarred in a 1956 romantic comedy, “Bundle of Joy,” that capitalized on their own parenthood.

In 1960 he played a role in “Butterfield 8,” for which Taylor won an Academy Award. But that film marked the end of his movie career.

After being discarded by Taylor, Fisher became the butt of comedians’ jokes. He began relying on drugs to get through performances, and his bookings dwindled. He later said he had made and spent $20 million during his heyday, and much of it went to gambling and drugs.

In 1983, Fisher attempted a full-scale comeback. But his old fans had been turned off by the scandals, and the tour was unsuccessful.

He had added to his notoriety that year with an autobiography, “Eddie: My Life, My Loves.” Of his first three marriages, he wrote he had been bullied into marriage with Reynolds, whom he didn’t know well; became nursemaid as well as husband to Taylor; and was reluctant to marry Connie Stevens but she was pregnant and he “did the proper thing.”

Another autobiography, “Been There, Done That,” published in 1999, was even more searing. He called Reynolds “self-centered, totally driven, insecure, untruthful, phony.” He claimed he abandoned his career during the Taylor marriage because he was too busy taking her to emergency rooms and cleaning up after her pets, children and servants. Both ex-wives were furious, and Carrie Fisher threatened to change her name to Reynolds.

At 47, Fisher married a 21-year-old beauty queen, Terry Richard. The marriage ended after 10 months. His fifth marriage, to Betty Lin, a Chinese-born businesswoman, lasted longer than any of the others. Fisher had two children with Reynolds: Carrie and Todd; and two girls with Stevens: Joely and Tricia.


Associated Press Writer Bob Thomas in Los Angeles contributed to this report.…sher-pass-week

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Stars Pass Same Week