Born Bernard Schwartz and raised in the Bronx, New York, Curtis began his acting career after leaving the US Navy after World War II, starring in minor roles until breaking into the mainstream with a part in Winchester '73, headlined by James Stewart.
Other roles followed, in pictures such as The Black Shield of Falworth, before he made his name with roles alongside Burt Lancaster in 'The Sweet Smell of Success' and 'Trapeze', and with Kirk Douglas in 'Spartacus' and 'The Vikings'.
For me, however, it was his appearances in comedies such as 'Operation Petticoat' (opposite Cary Grant), as the conniving yet good-hearted Lt. Holden, and as Joe/Josephine/Shell Oil, Jr., in Billy Wilder's 'Some Like It Hot' that I'll remember him for.
However, his role as Leslie Gallant III, aka 'The Great Leslie' in Blake Edwards' 'The Great Race' opposite Jack Lemmon (his co-star in 'Some Like It Hot') as Professor Fate, cemented that movie as one of my all-time favourites.
Here's a classic scene, also featuring the lovely Natalie Wood, the not-so-lovely Keenan Wynn, and the positively dastardly Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk:
It's six-and-a-half minutes long, but worth it...
Tony Curtis (1925-2010)