Sunday, January 11, 2009

American Schmuck

"American Prince, A Memoir" by Tony Curtis (nee Bernie Schwartz) with Peter Golenbock Harmony Books $25.95 364 pages

Curtis' tale is so trite -- rags to riches to rags, persecuted as a Hungarian Jew (who apparently never went to temple,) the mandatory drug interlude (cocaine in the '80s) constantly-arguing parents (and bad parenting on his part -- his children are largely estranged from Dear Old Dads) and what he thought of various co-stars. Naturally, he was best friends with Sinatra, Dean Martin, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson -- on and on. Happily, they're all dead and can't sue for misrepresentation.

Still, it's an amusing read, probably because of all of the expected (not "surprising") twists and turns. Curtis seems to have confused "lust" with "love" no less than four times in the marital field and countless times on the loose. His first wife, Janet Leigh, was the only "star;" the next two were starlets, who abused him in various ways. He has been married to #4 for 10 years, something of a record for him. He had four daughters and two sons, one of whom was dead at 23 from a drug overdose.

Best of all (and funniest) is the fact that he never learns. At the end of the book, he talks about squeezing in time for his grandchildren!

He contradicts himself throughout -- "I was dead broke" then some pages later, he boasts, "I made more from my real estate deals than I ever did acting!" Inference being, "So who needs it?" Followed by, "My life was over -- I couldn't get any (acting) work!"

He is 83 and his last chapter is titled, "Maybe I'll Live Forever!" If it's possible for libido to out-live common sense, maybe he will!

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