Viva Las Vegas: Tony Curtis goes out in high Hollywood style


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Somehow I knew it would be like this. Surrounded by his favorite possessions, which included a Stetson hat, an Armani scarf, driving gloves and an iPhone, Tony Curtis was eulogized today in true Las Vegas style as 400 celebs, friends and family were on hand at a public funeral to say goodbye to the 85-year-old actor, who died last Wednesday. The AP has all the details -- and after all, isn’t life, death and great comedy all about the details?

I mean, unless you’re Hugh Hefner or Tony Bennett, when you go, could you possibly be surrounded by a more enviable collection of old school talent than the Hollywood lion Kirk Douglas, billionaire buccaneer Kirk Kerkorian, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, ex-porn star Ron Jeremy, Vera Goulet, widow of Broadway star Robert Goulet (oh, if only RG had been around to croon one of Curtis’ favorite songs) and Curtis’ daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, who described her dad as ‘a little meshuga’ but always full of life.

Also on hand, presumably as the master of ceremonies, was Rabbi Mel Hecht, who surely must have got around to mentioning that Curtis, born in the Bronx in 1925 as Bernie Schwartz, was one of the most enduring of the early Hollywood Jew success stories. Curtis came from a time when you had to change your name, but you could keep your faith and make a nice living using the kind of sharp-edged hustle that Curtis captured so well in what was easily his best role, playing Sidney Falco, the amoral press agent in ‘Sweet Smell of Success.’


It sounds like the funeral was full of classic moments, with Schwarzenegger hailing Curtis for both his generosity and willingness to pose nude in Vanity Fair, saying with obvious admiration, ‘I mean, who has the guts to take off their clothes at the age of 80?’ But my favorite line came from Curtis’ widow, Jill Curtis, his sixth wife, who if my math is correct, is younger than Jamie Lee. She said that when friends would ask Curtis if he were worried about being able to keep up with a younger woman, he’d answer with mock regret: ‘Well, if she dies, she dies.’

I guess Tony knew in his gut that he’d go first, but at least when he went out, he got the kind of fabulous Vegas sendoff that made him, for one last time, the envy of every man of his generation.