Thursday, September 30, 2010

TONY CURTIS R.I.P.

I never met the man [though I met his first wife Janet Leigh and knew their daughter Jamie], but like a lot of young males in the early '50s (really starting in the late '40s as the images below show) were impacted by his image on screen. And it was all about his hair.

Elvis admitted that what we called back then, if I remember correctly, "the Tony Curtis roll" was what he was going for in his hairstyle that went on to influence even more young males. But it was Curtis who started the trend.

No self-respecting juvenile delinquent ("j.d." was the common term) or wannabe "j.d." would want to be seen without that little twist of hair right above the middle of your forehead, which dramatically contrasted with the slicked back or "greasy" long (for the times) side hair that gave rise to the term "greasers" etc.

It may seem trivial to focus on the hairstyle of a man who was a Hollywood legend, as they say, and despite the guffaws at his Bronx accent in Roman epics (SPARTACUS et. al.) was in fact a terrific movie star actor who played an incredibly wide range of characters for one who was known mostly as a pretty face at the time.

But for men of a certain era, it was all about the hair, getting just the right twist in front and amount of grease to slick back the sides so that even a punch in the jaw wouldn't jar it. And no matter how much critics or more sophisticated adults made fun of the man, he was a hero, a role model, a class statement saying, like it or not I'm cooler than anyone looking down their nose at me, and we all knew it.

Here's the evolution of "the roll" (or as we'd say to the barbder in our little tough guy voice "gimme a Tony Curtis"):
condolences to his family, friends, and fans


4 comments:

Jamie Rose said...

Ah, thanks so much for posting this Lals.

Eve said...

Being from the a Jewish Hungarian gal from the Bronx, I was always partial to Tony Curtis. Thank you Michael.

Eve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert G. Zuckerman said...

long before the great Madonna and David Bowie invented themselves and created media personnas, Tony Curtis had been there, done that, as evidenced by these pictures, and by immortal performances in, among others, Some Like It Hot and Sweet Smell of Success (a must see for anyone invovled in the film industry).