Thursday, September 30, 2010

Judge London Steverson and Tony Curtis Forever Linked By Time and Honor.

Tony Curtis died September 30, 2010 at the age of 85. He will be remembered as both a Hollywood heartthrob and an actor with a gift for comedy. As the author of his own story he was met with mixed reviews. He was the son of Hungarian immigrants. On April 23, 2009 at about 5:00 PM at the American Embassy in Budapest, Hungary he was awarded the Cultural Diplomacy Award by Ambassador April Foley with Jeffrey Levine, the Charge d'Affaires, and Carolynn Glassman, the Cultural affairs Officer at the Embassy.

Mr. Curtis was not the only person to receive the Cultural Diplomacy Award that day in Hungary. Earlier in the day at the American Corner in Veszprem, Hungary Judge London Steverson had been presented with a Cultural Diplomacy Award. It was the opening day of the annual America Week Celebration in Hungary. The highlight of the day was the official opening of the Steverson Book Collection at the Veszprem Public Library. The Steverson Collection was a donation of over 5,000 books to the American Embassy and the people of Hungary from Judge Steverson's own personal collection. Judge Steverson's wife was born and raised in Veszprem, Hungary.

Marjorie Kehe of the Christian Science Monitor had this to say about this talented Hungarian-American. Curtis wrote his own life story twice, once in "Tony Curtis: The Autobiography" (1993) and then again in "American Prince: A Memoir" (2008).

In general, "The Autobiography" was better received. Library Journal wrote, "This is Tony Curtis's story in his own words, and it is a corker. His depiction of a boyhood as a poor New York City street kid ... is moving as well as philosophical and is a recurring theme throughout his life and remarkably diverse career.... This is a literate, first-class "star" autobiography, frank and absorbing but not for the prudish."

Publishers Weekly, however, was tougher on Curtis, commenting that,"If Curtis's vanity didn't interfere, one could more readily sympathize with the man as a survivor of a mean childhood and the drug addiction from which he is recovering. Unfortunately, he blames most of his troubles on others, beginning with his parents."

USA Today said of "An American Prince" that it was "[f]illed with fond recollections of [Curtis’s] friendships with the famous and powerful but punctuated, too, by harsh words for Hollywood legends he says did him wrong…. Curtis spares few intimate details about his years as a Hollywood lothario, including his teenage affair with a redheaded, ponytailed Marilyn Monroe.”

Most readers, however, seemed to feel that while Curtis's recounting of his childhood in a tough Lower East Side Manhattan neighborhood (the son of Hungarian immigrants, he didn't learn to speak English till he was 5) was absorbing, Curtis's bragging about his conquests of the opposite sex (he was married five times and had many affairs) was unappealing. ("Fun for a while, then kerplunk .... falls, like a promising cake gone bad," wrote one Amazon reader.)

In the end, however, it is not Tony Curtis the writer or even the man who will be remembered as much as it will be Tony Curtis the actor, star of "Sweet Smell of Success" (1957), "The Defiant Ones" (1958), "Some Like It Hot"(1959), and "Spartacus" (1960). And perhaps that would have been fine with the man who wrote, in "American Prince," that “All my life I had one dream and that was to be in the movies.”



Blogger ichbinalj said...

On Sept 30, 2011 U. S. Ambassador to Hungary, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, presented a Cultural Diplomacy Award to Singer Britney Spears in Budapest, Hungary. Previous recipients of the Cultural Diplomacy Award included Actor Tony Curtis and Judge London Steverson, who received the Award on the same day in 2009.

11:09 AM  

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