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January 29, 1988 - Image 66

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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66

FRIDAY, JANUARY 29, 1988

Tony Curtis, Artist,
Shows His True Colors

MICHAEL ELKIN

Special to the Jewish News

A

tlantic City — Tony
Curtis' career is a
three-dimensional
canvas of accomplishment:
movies (Spartacus, The Vik-
ings, Some Like It Hot,
Trapeze, The Boston
Strangler, The Great Imposter)
and television work (Mafia
Princess).
Now, from his digs in
Hawaii, Curtis is digging in
with yet a different effort.
Meet Tony Curtis, artist,
whose works landscape the
soul with splashes of vibrant
colors.
Color Curtis happy. Leaving
behind for the moment the
sands of his Hawaiian home
for Atlantic City's Sands
casino, Curtis is taking a
chance that the public will ac-
cept the artist's magic of
nuance from a man who once
portrayed Houdini on the big
screen.
But it doesn't seem that
much of a gamble. Curtis'
work sells well — even with
price tags as hefty as $40,000.
At the Sands, where his work
was displayed, Curtis was as
colorful as his work.
"I've loved to paint all my
life,” he says with a smile,
flashing teeth as dazzling as
the snowwhite shock of hair
atop his head and the nifty
white ensemble he is wearing.
Curtis draws on life around
him for inspiration. "If you
have a gift, you try to express
yourself in some way."
Does his art mirror his art
of acting or his inner
thoughts? "My paintings
reflect my whole self, my
whole being," says Curtis, 62.
But the mirror has had its
share of cracks, Curtis will
admit. While the star of Some
Like It Hot is hot today, the
heat Tbny Curtis felt as a kid
— when he was known as Ber-
nie Schwartz of the Bronx and
taunted by anti-Semitic
bullies — is at the root of his
passion for painting.
"Jewishness is a part of my
psychology," says Curtis, who
recalls beatings at the hands
of neighborhood youngsters.
"I couldn't understand it,"
he says. "I was the best-
looking kid in the
neighborhood. And I was
treated like this because I
was Jewish."
It was enough to turn Cur-
tis from his religion. "I fought
my heritage," he says. "But,
as I grew older, I learned to
accept it" and welcome it
back.

Today,
Curtis
acknowledges, he is not
religious and goes to
synagogue "in deference to
my father." But he still con-
siders himself a spiritual per-
son, one moved by life's many
mysteries.
He feels his art reflects
those very private feelings. "I
let my impulses tell me what
to do," says Curtis.
They've been right on the
mark so far. However, Curtis
will admit that some of his

"I couldn't
understand it. I
was the best
looking kid in the
neighborhood."

early career efforts paled in
comparison to later work.
"Those early Universal
movies were so shlubby," he
says.
The words spill out so ef-
fortlessly yet seem out of
synch with an actor who pro-
jects so debonair an image.
While acting has not been
pushed out of the picture for
the artist's muse — Curtis
will next shoot The Mobster
with Frank Sinatra — he is
more apt to talk about still
life today than moving
pictures.
What do the kids — there
are four daughters, including
actress Jamie Lee Curtis, and
two sons — think of the new
direction their father's life is
taking? "They're always sur-
prised by me," Curtis
chuckles.
Actually, Curtis acknowl-
edges, anyone who knew lit-
tle Bernie Schwartz wouldn't
be surprised to see Tony Cur-
tis taking to the canvas so
naturally. "I always used to
love to go to museums," he
says.
Curtis lists Magritte and
Matisse as favorite painters.
As for himself, "I don't want
to quit until I become a
master," he adds with a smile.
For the time being, Curtis
rightfully contents himself
with art shows such as the at-
tractive display at the Sands.
"I want to do six shows a
year," he says. "This gypsy
like existence is appealing."
His talents help tell his
future: More acting, more art.
Curtis doesn't hesitate when
asked whether he would
rather be known as artist/ac-
tor or actor/artist? Which
label does he prefer?
That'easy, says a beaming
Curtis. "Lover."

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