Two more deaths to note: Arthur Penn and Tony Curtis

I’m afraid my obituary list gets longer today, marking the deaths of film director Arthur Penn (88) and actor Tony Curtis (85).

Penn, who directed such great films as Bonnie And Clyde, The Miracle Worker, and  Little Big Man, was one of the most influential directors of our time, changing the way films were made – director-based instead of studio-based. He died one day after his 88th birthday.

From the NY Times bio:

1953, Penn was writing and directing live TV productions for the Philco Playhouse and Playhouse 90. Earning a shot at feature films, Penn combined the Method acting concentration on character psychology with the story of legendary Western outlaw Billy the Kid in The Left-Handed Gun (1958). Starring Paul Newman as Billy and shot in crisp black-and-white, The Left-Handed Gun emphasized ’50s rebel neuroses over pastoral spectacle, becoming more of a character study of youthful revolt spiked with dramatic violence than a typical good vs. bad oater.

Tony Curtis, who died last night, was active as a performer for five decades. Not bad for a Lower East Side Jewish boy. Bernard Schwartz (Tony’s real name) was born on June 3, 1925, to Helen and Emanuel Schwartz, Jewish immigrants from Hungary. Emanuel operated a tailor shop in a poor neighborhood, and the family occupied cramped quarters behind the store, the parents in one room and little Bernard sharing another with his two brothers, Julius and Robert.

In the 1950s Curtis appeared in Some Like It Hot and The Defiant Ones, among many others, with major leads that took him through the 1970s. Later in life he did smaller parts, but never really stopped acting. His final screen appearance was in 2008, when he played a small role in “David & Fatima,” an independent budget film about a romance between an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim. His character’s name was Mr. Schwartz.

He is survived by his 6th wife and his first daughter (with Janet Leigh), Jamie Lee Curtis.

About btchakir

Retired Theatre Producer, Graphic Designer, Usability Tester and General Troubleshooter with a keen interest in Politics and The Stage. Currently heard on WSHC, 89.7 FM (on line at and occasionally dabbling in Community Theatre.

Posted on September 30, 2010, in Art, Arts, film, News, Obits, Television, Word from Bill and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Two more deaths to note: Arthur Penn and Tony Curtis.

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