Tony Curtis passed away today, aged 85. Curtis was big in the 50s and 60s, earning kudos for his part as a press agent in The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and garnering an Oscar nomination for his role in Stanley Kramer’s The Defiant Ones (1958).
But Curtis will be best remembered as a cross dressing saxophonist in Billy Wilder’s 1959 gem Some Like It Hot, which co-starred Jack Lemon and Marilyn Monroe.
Lemon and Curtis played musicians who witnessed a mob-related murder and – as you do – decided to escape the heat by joining an all female band, disguised as women. It’s a terrific film that stands the test of time and then some. The last two words of dialogue were permanently inked in cinema history books: “nobody’s perfect.”
Curtis kept acting into his 80s but slipped into obscurity, sporadically appearing in TV roles and bit parts in movies. His fame and artistic cred ended a long time ago; cast your eye over his recent (i.e. last few decades) resume and you’ll see plenty of dodgy titles – Portrait of a Showgirl (1982), Lobster Man from Mars (1989), Hollywood Babylon II (1992) and Lois & Clark (1996) to name a few.
Still, he was one hell of a cross dressing saxophonist. Actually, I’ll call it right here, right now: Tony Curtis was the best damn crossing dressing saxophonist in cinema history.