Tony Curtis, the enduring Hollywood star and all-round personality, died yesterday of a heart attack, it has been announced. He was one of the most recognisable faces of the Golden Age, having started in theatre and breaking into movies initially in small roles, such as in Francis or Winchester '73. As he became a popular pin-up, his status rose, so that he was soon starring as Houdini or in costume dramas like The Black Shield of Falworth or The Vikings, as well as spikier pictures such as the groundbreaking The Defiant Ones or Sweet Smell of Success, which many regarded as one of his finest. From this period his best-loved work was probably in comedy Some Like It Hot, where he cross-dressed opposite Marilyn Monroe.
After the all-star Spartacus he tended to appear in lighter fare such as The Great Race, though he was cast against type in an excellent performance as the Boston Strangler. After that, leading roles were thinner on the ground as he showed up in Lepke, The Last Tycoon, The Manitou, Sextette, Insignificance and the episode of C.S.I. directed by Quentin Tarantino. A popular chat show guest for years, his profile remained high until his death as one of Hollywood's survivors. Among his daughters was Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis, from his marriage to fellow star Janet Leigh.