Five Musical Moments From the Late Tony Curtis' Career

Poster from Tony Curtis' 1961 film "The Great Impostor"
Watch enough of the Turner Classic Movies network and it'll quickly seem like Tony Curtis is one of your best pals. He starred in plenty of classics -- and it's pretty clear that they are considered as such because of his wit, timing, and utter devotion to his roles. Curtis died Wednesday of cardiac arrest at his Las Vegas home at age 85. Read the New York Times' obituary here.

His Some Like It Hot pairing with Jack Lemmon in an all-girl band (more on that below) could be the funniest movie ever made, but it's only the most obvious chestnut of a magnificent career that also included roles in Spartacus, Boeing Boeing, and several more.

Even if Curtis wasn't a vocalist or a musician in his finest films, here are five musical moments worth another look from his extensive body of work.

The aforementioned team-up featuring Curtis and Lemmon not only served as a knockdown drag fest -- fueled by the guys' characters desires to make money and get into their all-girl bandmates' underclothes -- but it was quite a platform for Marilyn Monroe. Here she performs "Running Wild" with a "funeral-seasoned" Curtis accompanying on saxophone.

A couple of years earier, Curtis and Burt Lancaster (and the Chico Hamilton Quintet) teamed up for Sweet Smell of Success. Far less a comedy, aside from lines like "you're a cookie full of arsenic," Curtis plays Sidney Falco, the man put in charge of executing some unsavory dealings for noted columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Lancaster). Hunsecker does not approve of his sister's romance with a jazz musician, so a smear campaign is born -- and some intense 1957 jazz backing it.

Not particularly known for his singing chops, Curtis at least shows off some dance moves in this clip from his most notable musical, So This Is Paris.

Tony Curtis and Roger Moore teamed up as rich, crime-solving playboys for the short-lived TV series The Persuaders! in the early 1970s, a show that has stayed in the public consciousness mostly because of its excellent theme song (skip to 2:40), composed by James Bond music specialist John Barry. Bonus, here they are clowning "in character" for a French promo, singing "Eidelweiss" at the very end.

"Lunatic narcissism" isn't technically a musical talent, but Curtis' portrayal of an elevated version of himself in Paris When It Sizzles alongside the adorable Audrey Hepburn makes a pretty convincing argument for his eyebrows (at 2:22) being the instrument he played better than anyone else.

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Reed Fischer
Contact: Reed Fischer