Hollywood favourite Tony Curtis stars opposite Jack Lemmon and icon Marilyn Monroe tonight, as Some Like It Hot airs from 10.15pm on BBC Four. The classic comedy caper follows Curtis and Lemmon’s characters as they’re forced on the run with an all-female jazz group after witnessing the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. While Some Like It Hot was nominated for six Oscars, its overwhelming appeal still resonates today, and will be remembered in even more detail this Friday, when the 60th anniversary of Monroe’s death is marked.
Monroe, who died aged 36 of a suspected overdose, won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her appearance in the flick, with Lemmon too being honoured.
The film was given the incredible honour of being among the first 25 films to be inducted into the United States National Film Registry in 1989, and a decade later was named the seventh best film of all time by Time Out magazine.
And even though the decades since its release continue to pile-up, the film’s influence continues to overwhelm: in 2017, for example, a BBC poll of critics found it to be the best comedy of all time.
Monroe’s appearance in the film is among its highlights, but it was similarly defining for Curtis as it maintained his place among Hollywood’s elite.
It also came a year after his sole Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in The Defiant One.
His career in Hollywood lasted six decades, but in the days before his death, Curtis appeared to ask for one final request, seemingly aware his time was up.
A few days before his death, aged 85 from a cardiac arrest, Curtis was visited by photographer Andy Gotts for a photo-shoot at his home.
According to a 2020 BBC report, Curtis seems to have known his health was deteriorating, telling Gotts he was feeling unwell.
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Curtis in fact acted as the President of the US’ I Quit Smoking Club during the Sixties.
In tribute to her father, Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis said: “My father leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings and assemblages.
“He leaves behind children and their families who loved him and respected him and a wife and in-laws who were devoted to him.
“He also leaves behind fans all over the world. He will be greatly missed.”
In the build-up to his death, Curtis reportedly rewrote his will, appearing to disinherit all of his children without reason, and leaving his entire estate to his wife.
The revelation startled his family, including his second wife Christine Kaufmann who said that “everything the children should have, Jill has”.
She added: “I do believe that deep down inside he was a nice Jewish father, and you know that nice Jewish fathers do not disinherit their children.
“Tony was on strong painkillers at the end, and they make you really stoned.”
Some Like It Hot airs from 10.15pm on BBC Four.