This week has been a sad one. Two landmark actors and one landmark director (not to mention film editor Sally Menke, whom I wrote about earlier) have left us. While we know that this is the way of things and that these moments are inevitable, it still hits hard and the sadness and loss is real. Even if some of these people haven’t been front and center in our daily lives for some time, knowing they are no longer with us seems to make the world just that much emptier.
But thankfully we have their work and legacies to guide us, to keep us company, and to recognize as a signpost to possibility.
Actor Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz) died yesterday of cardiac arrest in his Las Vegas home. He was 85. Thankfully, Mr. Curtis recently shared his memories of making SOME LIKE IT HOT with author Mark A. Vieira in the recently published book, THE MAKING OF SOME LIKE IT HOT: MY MEMORIES OF MARILYN MONROE AND THE CLASSIC AMERICAN MOVIE. I highly recommend it.
Curtis was a Hollywood icon. His films ranging from WINCHESTER ’73 to THE DEFIANT ONES and on through THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, THE GREAT RACE, SPARTACUS, THE BOSTON STRANGLER and even an episode of THE FLINTSTONES (as Stoney Curtis) as well as dozens of other films and television roles, Tony Curtis was and remains an American legend.
Arthur Penn, the groundbreaking director who ushered in an entirely new direction in American cinema with his daring and controversial BONNIE AND CLYDE, died Tuesday night of heart failure at the age of 88. Penn cut his teeth on the early days of live television directing for GULF PLAYHOUSE, GOODYEAR PLAYHOUSE, THE PHILCO-GOODYEAR TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE and a host of other groundbreaking and highly influential shows. As a feature director, his work includes MICKEY ONE, THE CHASE, ALICE’S RESTAURANT, NIGHT MOVES, THE MISSOURI BREAKS and many, many others. In 1982, Penn was quoted as saying, “The movies have changed: there’s now this wonderful storyteller Spielberg making benign movies that are enormously successful, while I’m known mainly for making movies about people shooting and cutting each other up. I love his work, but I could never make stuff like that.” Arthur Penn will be forever remembered.
Film actress Gloria Stewart was reintroduced to contemporary audiences in James Cameron’s epic blockbuster TITANIC. But Miss Stewart, who died Sunday night at the age of 100 from complications due to lung cancer, began her career in the early 1930’s. She was best known for such landmark films as THE OLD DARK HOUSE, THE INVISIBLE MAN, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935, REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU and literally dozens and dozens of other film and television appearances. Even though Miss Stewart was blessed to live a long life, the world is that much smaller in her absence. She will be missed.
As will they all.