Remembering Tony Curtis’ 15 best films on his birthday


Tony Curtis would’ve celebrated his 96th birthday, today June 3, 2021. The Oscar-nominated performer starred in dozens of movies throughout his career, becoming famous as the charismatic leading man of romantic comedies, action films, and prestige dramas.

Born Bernie Schwartz , he was born on June 3, 1925, the son of a Bronx tailor. He recalled growing up in a tough neighborhood “I was always the new kid on the block, so I got beat up by the other kids,” Curtis recalled in 1959. “I had to figure a way to avoid getting my nose broken. So I became the crazy new kid on the block.” And he never lost that Bronx accent.

He felt his name sounded too Jewish for a movie actor, so he chose a new name: Anthony Curtis, taken from his favorite novel, Anthony Adverse, and the name of a favorite uncle. After his eighth film, he became Tony Curtis.

After a number of forgettable films that featured his athletic physique and charming personality, Curtis moved to more substantial roles, starting in 1957 in the harrowing show business tale Sweet Smell of Success. In 1958 he received the best actor Oscar for The Defiant Ones.

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But how many of his titles remain classics? In honor of his birthday, let’s take a look back at 15 of his greatest films, ranked worst to best, according to

Photo : Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Directed by George Marshall. Screenplay by Philip Yordan, based on the novel by Harold Kellock. Starring Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Torin Thatcher.

Though highly fictionalized and more than a bit fantastical, this biographical drama offers a fascinating look at the life and work of magician Harry Houdini. Curtis stars as the famed illusionist, from his beginning as a carnival side show performer to his death-defying feats of trickery. The film delves into Houdini’s dealings with the occult and his obsession with his mother, both of which it argues drove his career. Curtis’s then-wife, Janet Leigh, costars as Mrs. Houdini, making for a bit of art-imitating-life.