Oscar-nominated died Wednesday at his Nevada home
Legendary actor Tony Curtis has died. He was 85.
Curtis — whose real name was Bernard Schwartz — died of cardiac arrest on Wednesday night at his Henderson, Nevada home.
“He died peacefully surrounded by those who loved him…in his bedroom where he loved to be," his wife, Jill Curtis, told "Inside Edition" on Thursday. "I’m very happy we made the decision to bring him home from the hospital. He passed in his sleep.”
His first big role came in 1957 in "The Sweet Smell of Success."
Curtis received an Academy Award nomination in 1959 for his role as a runaway jazz musician in “The Defiant Ones” opposite Sidney Poitier, though he was perhaps best known for his turn in “Some Like it Hot” alongside Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe.
Other films on Curtis' long résumé include "Spartacus," "Captain Newman, M.D.," "The Vikings," "Kings Go Forth" and "Operation Petticoat."
"I've made 122 movies," Curtis once said. "And I daresay there's a picture of mine showing somewhere in the world every day of the week."
When his career stalled, in the late 1960s, Curtis turned to drugs and alcohol.
"I wasn't getting the kind of parts I wanted, and it kind of soured me," he told Interview magazine in 1985. "But I had to go through the drug inundation before I was able to come to grips with it and realize that it had nothing to do with me, that people weren't picking on me." (He eventually recovered, after a 30-day stay at the Betty Ford Clinic.)
Curtis was also an accomplished abstract painter.
"When I start painting, I have no idea what I'm going to do. The first color I use–that tells me where the painting is going," Curtis said in a 1989 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "It paints itself, and the painting tells me when it's finished. It's almost as if it does it for me. I wear my Picasso hat and Matisse shorts and my Arnold Schwarzenegger tank top and I paint!"
"My father leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings and assemblages," his daughter, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, said in a statement. "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. He will be greatly missed."
Reaction from fellow actors started coming in Thursday:
"He was a fine actor [and] I shall miss him," Roger Moore, who starred alongside Curtis on television in "The Persuaders," told Sky News. "He was great fun to work with, a great sense of humor and wonderful ad libs. We had the best of times."
"When his time as a leading man was over he went off to Hawaii and painted," Michael Caine said. "He had a very happy life. Every time I saw him he was the happiest man you could think of."
"He's one of those actors who in the '50s was a beautiful, charismatic leading man, who became sort of iconic as a sex symbol," said Tony Goldwyn. "Not somebody who you originally thought had a lot of depth. He was just charming and funny and yet he revealed himself to be quite complex and gave some great performances."
Sam Rockwell, who starred with Curtis in the 1998 movie "Louis and Frank," said Curtis "was such a sweetheart. Beautifully neurotic, in a very endearing kind of Woody Allen way."
"Tony Curtis and Eddie Fisher in the same week," said Marlo Thomas. "It's very sad. He was funny, so very funny, very talented and a great spirit."
Curtis had Jamie Lee with his former wife, the actress Janet Leigh ("Psycho"). He is also survived by his wife, Jill; three other daughters, Kelly, also from his marriage to Leigh, and Alexandra and Allegra, both from his marriage to Christine Kaufmann; a son, Benjamin; and six grandchildren. A son, Nicholas, died in 1994.
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