Tony Curtis 1925-2010

Very sad to hear of the death of one of my childhood heroes, Tony Curtis, at the age of 85.

A handsome, rugged and stylish man, he was a surprisingly versatile actor in his younger days.  He received an Oscar nomination for his performance as John ‘Joker’ Jackson in 1959’s The Defiant Ones, starring alongside Sidney Poitier and Lon Chaney Jr, he played the slave Antoninus in Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent Spartacus, and was the uncredited voice of Donald Baumgart in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, but he’s probably most famous for his role as Joe/’Josephine’ in Some Like It Hot, co-starring with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe.  However, he came into my life when I was a youngster when he played New York rough diamond Danny Wilde in ITC’s wonderful TV series, The Persuaders.

The series came with a first-rate theme tune, courtesy of John Barry.  In it, Curtis’s character fought a series of untouchable criminals with his Oxford-educated colleague Lord Brett Sinclair, played by the equally peerless Roger Moore.  As a pairing, they were superb, despite consistent rumours that they didn’t get on particularly well.  The first series in particular was a gloriously tacky festival of playboys-doing-punch-ups in exotic-looking locations like Monte Carlo, apparently just for the hell of it.  Later, due to budget constraints, the two of them ended up living together in a small London flat.

Terrifyingly, one of those pathetic, semi-piss-take remake projects was announced in 2005, with a view to a 2008 release, with Ben Stiller (yawn) in the Curtis role and Steve Coogan (yawwwwwwwwwn) playing Moore’s part.  Way to urinate on others’ past glories, chaps.

Thanks to The Persuaders, I remained a fan of the man all my life.  He became something of a Hollywood ‘Grand Dame’ in his later years, always a wonderful storyteller and all-round personality.  I will miss him.  Thanks for the memories, Tony.  May you rest in peace.

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