Monday, October 27, 2008

This Week's LVW Col: Still the Defiant One

Here's last week's Las Vegas Weekly column. The rest of my Tony Curtis conversation will appear on this week's episode of "The Strip," which we'll record tomorrow night. Listen live, of course, at 7 p.m. at LVRocks.Com, and join the chat room.

Still the Defiant One
The incurable angst of Tony Curtis

If you’ve ever watched even a single episode of the E! True Hollywood Story, you know the formula: A star hits it big, looms large in our collective consciousness, struggles with his fill-in-the-blank inner demons, hits rock bottom, comes to terms with his problems, triumphs and enjoys either a resurgence or at least a peaceful dotage.

Except after more than two hours of interviewing Tony Curtis in his home in Henderson, something striking becomes painfully obvious: Curtis has enjoyed neither that resurgence nor that peaceful dotage. He tries to make it seem that way both in the first hour of our conversation and in the last chapter of his new sex-soaked memoir, American Prince, but even in the book there are hints that he is wrapping the story up in a sloppily tied bow merely to give the saga the ending that Hollywood and the book-publishing business demands.

At nearly 83 years old, Curtis is not contented. In fact, it’s not a stretch to suggest that he’s somewhat bitter and sorrowful about how his life and career have turned out, what happened in his marriages, why his kids have little to do with him.

“I don’t know why I’m so dissatisfied,” confides the star of Some Like It Hot, Spartacus, The Defiant Ones and another 120 films. “What am I looking for? What am I chasing?”

If he doesn’t know at this stage of his life, I’m not sure who or what is going to supply that answer.