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Tony Curtis - Career & Financial Facts

1. Tony Curtis was born Bernie Schwartz.

2. Money was extremely tight in the Schwartz home when Tony was a boy. He remembered the terror he felt as a young boy the day his father lost an entire week's salary ($22 in cash), and struggling to help him find it in the 12 blocks around their home.

3. When he was 12 Tony Curtis worked several part time jobs.
-He was a paperboy.
-He delivered clothes for 50 cents a load.
-He delivered groceries.
-He delivered prescriptions for a pharmacy.
-He also shined shoes in front of the St. Regis Hotel in New York, the same hotel he would later be chauffeured to while staying in NY.  Source

4. Tony Curtis' dad once responded to an ad that said "Dancers Wanted". He was excited at the possibility of getting into show business. He got to the place and was told to take off his shoes and socks and roll up his pant legs. Then he was taken to an adjacent room and told to step into a large vat of grapes and dance. Turns out a company needed grape crushers and figured more people would apply if they advertised for dancers........

5. Unable to financially support the family any longer, his parents put him and Julius in a government sponsored orphanage for two weeks, during the height of the Great Depression. It was common for other parents to do the same thing during the Great Depression.

6. Tony recalled the first time he ever held paper money in his hands was during his brother's funeral. Tony was 13 years old. People gave him envelopes of money; his father promptly took the money from him.

7. Even though he didn't graduate from high school, Tony joined the Navy at the age of 16 (he lied about his age). Tony's big break for acting came when he answered a casting call while in the Navy. A college music department needed 8 sailors for a musical. He was one of them chosen out of 100 sailors.

8. After leaving the Navy at age 20 Curtis made some money as a model. He was even paid $100 once for being featured on a magazine cover. Page 78 Source

9. He paid for acting school with the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill gave veterans a $60 a month stipend while attending school. Page 82 Source

10. His first acting job paid him $40 a week. He was one of five actors in a traveling play called This Too Shall Pass. His acting got the attention of another production company who then offered him $65 a week to act in their plays. He accepted the job offer.

11. On June 2, 1948, one day before his 23 birthday Tony Curtis signed a contract with Universal Studios that would initially pay him $75 a week (minus $20 a week for union dues). The contract could be renewed at the studio's discretion every 6 months for a total of 7 years.

12. Each time his Universal Studios contract was renewed Curtis would get a pay raise and could earn up to $1,200 a week at the end of 7 years. After signing the contract he immediately found a place to live in Los Angeles for $30 a month. This included one room with a bed and dresser, along with breakfast every day.

13. Curtis got his first pay raise in 1949 because of a two minute dancing part he had in Criss Cross. Hundreds of fans wrote to the studio asking who he was. His pay was immediately raised from $75 a week to $125 a week. Video Curtis' next raise came in 1950 after a great performance in Winchester 73. His weekly salary was raised to $225. However, even with the pay increase Curtis admitted he was broke.

14. In 1951 Universal Studios offered Tony Curtis $30,000 (a fortune in 1951) to marry 18 year old actress Piper Laurie. The studio believed movie-goers would love that dynamic / story. He declined the offer. Source

15. In 1952 Curtis bought his first Rolls-Royce through a friend's dealership. List price for the car was $21,000, but Curtis only had to pay $7,000.

16. In 1955 Tony Curtis became a landlord when he bought, and rented out, 12 garden apartments. Page 168. Source

17. In 1956 he was paid $150,000 to star in Trapeze. He also earned $150,000 for his role in the 1978 movie Bad News Bears Go To Japan. Source

18. In 1958 movie producer and actor Kirk Douglas paid Tony Curtis an extra $200 to grow a real beard for the movie The Vikings.

19. In 1962 Curtis divorced Janet Leigh, and even with his previous movie success he described himself as "completely broke" that year. This forced him to make movies he really didn't want to be in just so he would have enough income to meet his financial obligations. Source

20. In 1963 Curtis married 17 year old Christine Kaufmann. He paid her mother the $10,000 she asked for in order to help her "overcome her concerns" about the marriage. Page 242 Source

21. From Wikipedia: "Throughout his life, Curtis enjoyed painting, and since the early 1980s, painted as a second career. His work commands more than $25,000 a canvas now." Source

22. Tony Curtis once had to pay a 50 pound fine in England when he was arrested at customs for carrying marijuana and a pistol.

23. By 1975 Curtis was making more money from his real estate investments in California than from acting. He had bought 250 acres of land in Perris Valley, California, leased some of it to vegetable farmers, and sold small chunks of it for nice profits as California real estate prices climbed.

24. Tony Curtis did have a will and in it he specifically acknowledged his children by saying he had "intentionally and with full knowledge chosen not to provide for them." Source

More Facts and Sources
Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 1   Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 2   Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 3
Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 4   Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 5   Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 6
Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 7   Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 8   Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 9
Tony Curtis Career & Financial Facts 10

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