Actor. Born Bernard Schwartz, on June 3, 1925, in New York City, the eldest of three sons of a tailor, Manuel, and a shopkeeper, Helen Schwartz. His brother Julius, born in 1929, was killed when he was hit by a truck in 1938. Another brother, Robert, was born in 1940.
Curtis grew up in an impoverished section of the Bronx, and had joined a street gang by the age of eleven. He joined the Navy in 1943, and after the war, attended the City College of New York and took acting lessons at the Dramatic Workshop. In 1948 he moved to California and was placed under contract by Universal Studios, making his screen debut in Criss Cross (1948). Soon afterward, his good looks made him a matinee idol, initially under the name James Curtis, and then Anthony Curtis.
A versatile actor, Curtis sought work in a variety of genres in order to avoid being typecast. His first major film was The Sweet Smell of Success (1957). He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in The Defiant Ones (1958) with Sidney Poitier. He demonstrated his comedic talent in Billy Wilder’s classic Some Like It Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon. Other important films include The Vikings (1958), Spartacus (1960), The Great Imposter (1961) and The Boston Strangler (1968). In the early 1970s, Curtis appeared in a British TV series called The Persuaders, and in 1977 he wrote his first novel Kid Andrew Cody & Julie Sparrow.
Curtis enjoyed a close friendship with Hollywood’s “Rat Pack,” a group of entertainers which included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. Some sources even cite Curtis as an “honorary member.” He appeared in several films with Rat Pack members, including Pepe (1960) and The List of Adrian Messenger (1963).
Despite a cardiac bypass operation in 1994, Curtis is still vibrantly active and occasionally plays supporting roles in films. He is enjoying a successful second career as a fine artist.
Curtis has been married five times. He wed actress Janet Leigh in 1951, and the couple had two daughters, Kelly (1957) and Jamie Lee (1958). Curtis and Leigh split in 1962, after which Curtis married actress Christine Kaufmann. They had two daughters, Alexandrea (1964) and Allegra (1966). Curtis and Kaufmann divorced in 1967. He married Leslie Allen in 1968 and they had two sons: Nicholas (b.1971, who died in 1994) and Benjamin (b.1973). Curtis and Allen divorced in 1982. He wed lawyer Lisa Deutsch in 1993, and divorced her in 1994. He married fifth wife Jill Vanden Berg on November 6, 1998.
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