Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Tribute to Tony

For those fans who were not able to attend Tony's service yesterday, I wanted to at least let you know what I said for my Tony.

Thank you to everyone, all his fans across the world, for loving Tony like you did- you all meant more to him then you will ever know. You are all in my heart and we will always be friends for the rest of my life.


On behalf of Tony and myself, I want to thank you all for coming to help us celebrate and remember the life of this remarkable and larger than life man.

As Tony would always say, “I greet you with cordiality and good cheer.”

Tony and I have been together for 16 years, we would have been married 12 years next month. What a wonderful time that has been. Everyone here knows “Tony of the Movies”, I would like to take this time to honor the man behind the Matinee Idol.

As you may have already read, Tony passed in his sleep. He had been ill and had actually almost passed away in the hospital one day a few months ago. But in true Tony style, he fought his way back, in fact he recovered enough to come home. Those of us who were with him these last few months, have come to realize that he came home so that we would all have time to say good bye. This was his final gift- time to talk, to love, to kiss and hold hands, to sit together and watch a movie, to hug. To help us let go gracefully and to finally accept that his long and full life was naturally coming to an end. An end that came peacefully and quietly in the early evening, on his terms and at just the right time.

I have always told people that Tony was just the that way you always hoped he would be. By that I mean- that charming handsome man that you feel in love with on the screen- that was the real Tony. He was hilarious, kind, gentle, tough and strong, highly intelligent and incredibly witty.

Tony absolutely adored his fans and loved it when people would approach him for an autograph or to take a photo. At signings and events, he always made sure to spend time with each person in line, to make everyone feel comfortable and appreciated. We would watch as fans nervously approached with shaking hands but they always left with a big smile and stars in their eyes.

Tony was an enigma, a word he loved.

On the one hand a “yeaderman”- an everyman. He was a Husband, a Father, a Grandfather, a Brother, an Uncle, and a Friend. A hardworking man who came from very humble beginnings, a son of immigrants, a patriot who defended his country, a proud American citizen. A man who walked the streets of the World unencumbered, always curious, always approachable.


He was for the most part self educated. A man who barely finished High School but who could comfortably converse with Prince and Pauper alike, from Presidents to the working man.


An amazingly creative person, Tony wrote multiple books and volumes of beautiful poetry. But what he was the most proud of was his artwork. Tony loved to paint and he began drawing at a young age on the sidewalks of New York using his father’s tailor chalk. His acrylics are brightly colored, his line drawings precise and clean. But, to really appreciate the incredible workings of his inner mind, one only has to look at his boxes that he created. These artistic assemblages are of unrelated objects placed together in such a way as to evoke emotions unique to each viewer. They perfectly depict his complex personality and, right up to his death, he was working on his newest book to share them with the World.

Of course, we all know the Mega Watt Movie Star- bigger than the silver screen could ever contain. Someone who was revered, looked up to, and emulated. His immense body of work bridged the gap between Old Hollywood and New Hollywood; he was a true Movie Star in every sense of the word and he loved every minute of it.

One of Tony’s favorite poems is Mr. Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson. He could, and would, recite it by heart. A part of this poem just personified Tony perfectly and I wanted to share it with you.

“Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We the people on the pavement looked at him;
He was a gentleman from sole to crown
Clean favored and imperially slim.

He was always quietly arrayed,
And he was human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said
Good Morning and he glittered when he walked.”

Those of you who knew Tony well, will remember his fondness for white shorts and white sweaters and his ever present Stetson- this was all he ever wanted to wear. Of course, he loved to dress up for the evening and when he did, we always called him “The Armani Cowboy”. For Tony it really was “Armani or your Life”. But, if he could get away with it, and Tony could get away with almost anything- white shorts it was. Tony is even now wearing his favorite outfit- he is being laid to rest in his white shorts, his very favorite white sweater that had to be mended more times that can be counted, his Armani scarf around his neck and with his well worn Stetson under his arm.

He is also being laid to rest with his traveling bag, packed full with what he would always refer to as, “his goods”. In his bag we have placed:

Meaningful Photos and letters

A model of his car, the 25th Anniversary Edition Trans Am with what Tony called, “the screaming chicken” on it’s hood.

His favorite pair of driving gloves, Tony always wore driving gloves, even when he had stopped driving. After his illness in 2006, he was no longer able to, and was extremely fond of telling anyone who would listen that “Jillie won’t let me drive”. He was always, right up to the end, plotting ways to get his driver’s license back and convince me that he was still able to drive. But, more than once in the years before, I had arrived at the scene of a minor fender bender involving Tony, only to find him charming the people and signing their damaged hood or bumper.

As a child who grew up in poverty during the Depression, Tony always felt secure with money in his “kip” as he always called it. Of course, being old school, Tony didn’t call money ”money”, he called it Dough. So Tony, you have some dough in your kip, just in case you might need it.

We have included, a copy of his favorite poem Mr. Cory and a copy of Anthony Adverse, the book that he read while in the Navy and which later became part of his new Hollywood name,
Some of his Navy medals, Tony was a proud sailor and a World War Two Veteran.

His late son Nicholas’ baby shoes that Tony always brought with him wherever he traveled,
A patch from Hungary, Tony loved to speak Hungarian and was extremely proud of his heritage.
Tony loved to collect gold coins, so we added some of those.

His two favorite watches,

A yarmulke from the Dohany Synagogue in Budapest which he had helped to restore in his father’s name,

A bag of interesting colored stones that he had collected during his travels, which included stones from his friend Dodi Fayed’s grave,

A DVD of his film clips,

His “IB” which is actually his iPhone- We don’t know why he called it his “IB”, but he did and after a while so did we. Tony loved to “work” on his IB.

A few items from his Father’s Tailor shop,

A pair of sunglasses and a pair of reading glasses,

Seven packets of Splenda- Tony loved to sweeten everything with Splenda- no less than seven packets. Tony had a huge sweet tooth.

A Percocet,

A pair of sleeping eye blinders, which he always wore to sleep or to nap,

A picture and a recent poem he wrote to his little dog, Bronx,

The ashes from his dog, Jack, who was found abandoned in the desert a few years ago and who fell in love with Tony instantly and faithfully followed him everywhere. When Jack passed on, Tony kept his ashes. Now Jack is following Tony again.

We also included some of his favorite paint brushes and some paint and a sketch pad and a pen. Tony loved to draw on anything at anytime. Many of his friends would leave the dinner table with a napkin or even part of the table cloth that Tony had drawn on. He loved to do that.

An accomplished Fencer, he is also being laid to rest with one of his favorite Fencing sabers at his side.

As sad as it is to say good bye to our beloved Tony, we are so happy for him that he had such a long and amazing life. As Tony was fond of saying, “It would have killed an ordinary man.”


I want to thank you, sweetheart, for taking me, a simple horse girl from San Diego, on the ride of a lifetime. Thank you for all you have done for me. You will remain in my heart always and someday, I will take your hand again and we will continue on our journey together. I just want to share one very funny story that I will always treasure. Because we had such a large age difference, soon after we met, Tony was asked if it was dangerous to be with such a young woman? To which he immediately quipped, “Well, if she dies, she dies”.

Tony loved animals but it wasn’t until we met that he realized just how much. When I met Tony, he did not have any animals and his LA home was filled with pristine white carpet. But during these years here in Vegas, our house has always been filled with barking dogs, cats, and injured animals of all kinds including a paralyzed chicken, Ernesto. He even helped me care for and bottle feed an orphaned baby burro who lived at our Anthem home for 10 days until he could move to our ranch. Tony loved to visit our ranch, Shiloh. In fact, right before he became ill this last time, we were planning to build a house and permanently move out there. He was excited about the change and many times these last few weeks when asked about living at Shiloh, he would say “it’s going to be fabulous”.

Let us remember Tony as a gentleman, a kind, compassionate and elegant man, with a loving and generous heart, an iron will, a strong work ethic, a stubborn streak, a brilliant sense of humor and an enlightened way of moving through life. We won’t forget his unmistakable voice or his infectious laugh. As a friend simply said- “He was a thrill to know”.

His journey here has ended, but I know that he is somewhere even now, grinning that charming smile with that mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes, reaching out to take the hand of a friend or loved one. I can still hear that incredible voice saying, “Hi, I’m Tony”.
What a Life.

What a Man.

He was, as one loving fan so eloquently put it,

A Once in a Lifetime Man.

25 comments:

cklamer said...

Jill,
It was a very sad day for me when I heard Tony had passed and I can say he will be missed by all. After talking to him on the phone a while back and talking to him about my wife and I traveling to Las Vegas this year we discussed getting together and I was in the process of writing out an official invitation to our wedding vow renewal and I was going to ask Tony if you both would attend and if he would honor us with giving the bride away. I would still be honored if you attended and would have dinner if you feel like it at the time.

I will always remember the day Tony Curtis called me on the phone and I nearly fell out of my chair and I was speechless. The only problem is no one believes me because at the time I was alone in my office.

God Bless you and I know it will be a difficult time but hang in there you have a lot of friends and supporters just lean on us.

Chris

Derek Lyons said...

Dear Jillie,

I was so very moved by your Beautiful tribute to you Tony.

May Peace,Love and Light be with him.

Love and Warmest Wishes to you, family and your Animals.

Love always

Derek

americanuck.net said...

What a lovely post and thank you so much for sharing. That is a darling picture of the two of you.

I've loved Tony the movie star my whole life and have passed the love of his movies to my kids. It has been nice to read about another side of him from this site, I only wish I had found it sooner!

My deepest sympathies to you and to the rest of Tony's family, I'm glad you were able to have some time to say a proper goodbye.

All the best,

Belinda

Gary said...

My prayers and thoughts are with you and the rest of the family.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Tony, except through his movies. He gave my family & myself so much joy through his movies like Some Like It Hot, The Great Race, Houdini and some many others.

I thank God for that please and thank you and his family for sharing him with us.

God Bless...

Kay Dennison said...

What a wonderful tribute!!! May he be in arms of a loving God.

Laura said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, Jill. My condolences. I'm sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and the entire Curtis family. Tony left behind quite the legacy; he will be missed.

KC said...

I'm so glad he made it home to say goodbye. It sounds like it was a peaceful passing. Thank you for sharing your memories and love with us. All the best to you.

Days_On_The_Road said...

Thanks Jill for the beautiful tribute you have given to Tony here. It's is so honest and sincere and has come from your heart from all the love you gave to Tony in appreciation for the same way he felt about you. Also to his children and grandchildren who also loved him, I am sure they will treasure the memories they enjoyed with him.

When I heard the news about Tony passing away I felt sad. I don't have television or listen to the radio. I went to check my facebook and noticed a tribute that Tony had passed away. Later that day I was driving, and on two occasions there were tears running down my eyes as I thought about Tony.

I met Tony way back in 1994 when he came to Australia. When he returned to the USA one of his sons passed away, and at around the same time Tony needed open heart surgery. He could have passed away then, but with the advances in modern medical procedures he was given another lease of life. He got to live another sixteen years and did many great things in that time, including life with Jill & Shiloh Horse Rescue, as well and his paintings, writing books, and public appearances.

I remember the email Tony sent me over 12 months ago from his tonycjv@aol.com email account where he signed off saying ;
"Your pal, Tony"

In our lifetime, there will never be another human like Tony Curtis. I will always remember him as long as I live.

Found art blog said...

Amen. I was just thinking yesterday that Jack The Dog would be racing around with him again!!

Shirley said...

Jill: What a moving and heartfelt tribute to the most wonderful man in the world. We will all miss Tony forever. He has given us all so much in entertainment and also in goals to strive for. If we all could be the person that Tony was, what a wonderful world that would be!!!. God Bless you and keep you until the day that you two are together again. Love You!!!!

jan said...

Jill: What a beautiful tribute to your love. I heard him give the eulogy at Dean Shendal's memorial service. He got us all laughing with his hilarious story about how they met in a Hollywood producer's office, and were friends ever since. He and Dean must be finding all kinds of trouble together up in Heaven! Condolences. Jan Rieger

newzealandbakerdreamer said...

Jill,

I cried and cried when i heard Tony passed away. I never got a chance to meet him, everytime he was doing a signing or screening his movies in CA i was too busy and now im full of regret. I love his movies, my favorite movie of all time is actually "Some Like it Hot" its the movie that introduced Tony to me when i was a little girl. I will always think of him, hes a man that deserves to be remembered and will be remembered forever. I'll pray for you every night, im so glad you were with Tony till the very end, you two made an amazing couple.

Love always,

Megan

bob said...

What a moving eulogy. I am wet-eyed after reading your tribute to Tony. I used to boast to friends that I was friends with Tony Curtis on FB - along with almost 5000 other fans!

Thanks for the updates and pictures along the way. Appreciated them all.

Chris Haslett (Wales, UK)
x

debbie said...

DEAR JILL,
HOW VERY SAD IT WAS FOR US AS FANS TO HEAR ABOUT TONY'S PASSING ON BUT PEOPLE OFTEN FORGET THAT A STAR IS A HUSBAND AND FATHER, AND HOW VERY SAD FOR YOU TO HAVE YOUR SOUL MATE GO ON AHEAD OF YOU.
MY 33 YEAR OLD ONLY DAUGHTER WILL HAVE BEEN GONE ONE YEAR THIS OCT. 23, 2010. SHE HAD BRAVELY BATTLED CANCER FOR THE SECOND TIME AND GOD ALLOWED HER TO COME HOME. I AND MY HUSBAND HAVE HAD A HORRIBLE TIME GETTING OVER HER DEATH ALTHOUGH WE KNOW SHE IS NOW NOT SUFFERING AND IS HAPPY...BUT IT IS VERY HARD FOR THOSE LEFT BEHIND.
SHE TOO, WAS AN ARTIST AND I HAVE GONE BACK TO ART AS MY THERAPY. I NEVER KNEW TONY PAINTED AND HE IS VERY TALENTED. I NOTICED THERE WERE CATS IN A LOT OF HIS PAINTINGS. WE HAVE 3 RESCUE CATS...2 WE BOTTLE FED FROM 6 DAYS OLD AND 2 RESCUE DOGS. WE FOSTER NEW BORN KITTIES THAT HAVE BEEN DESERTED. I HOPE YOU DO GO AHEAD AND BUILD A HOME AT SHILOAH RANCH...YOU WILL FIND A LOT OF PEACE THERE.
I LOVED WHAT YOU SHARED ABOUT PUTTING WITH TONY....WE TOO, PUT ARTIST BRUSHES AMONG OTHER THINGS WITH OUR DAUGHTER, AMY DAWN.
YOU WILL BE IN MY PRAYERS.
HUGS
SIMPLY DEBBIE

Nick Thomas said...

What wonderful words, Jill.

I'm so glad we got to meet Tony when we came to Shiloh a few years back. I have many great photos, including one of him, me and a horse. I've got a real goofy smile because Tony pinched me just as the camera clicked to make me laugh. Does that sound like him? I wrote about the visit on my blog in July -http://getnickt.blogspot.com/2010/07/tony-curtis-meeting-in-desert.html

Can't imagine what mischief Tony and Jack are up to now!

RRaffanti said...

Jill, your post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. Your Tony was a beautiful man - as handsome on the inside as he was on the outside. We'll miss him so much.

Steff179 said...

Jill,
What a lovely tribute for Tony! Thank you for sharing it with us here on his site. You must have incredibly loved him. I´m glad that you had found each other and that you´ve been happy together for so many years.
Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet Tony at least once, and after reading your beautiful tribute I can really imagine what I´ve missed.
I´m still so sad that he passed away, but meanwhile I could realize it a bit. He must have left a huge hole in you and in the whole family and I wish you the best to get out of it soon. I will never forget him and I love him in every single movie he made. He was such a wonderful man. He was unique. I´ve been a Tony fan since I was a 14 year old girl (it was "The Persuaders!" that introduced him to me). Now I am 35 and it goes on. I will always be his fan.
God bless you,
Steffi from Germany

Mogifi said...

Jill
Thank you so very mudh for posting this. I love the list of things you put in with Tony.
I still shed tears.
Fiona.

beachgirl said...

Just bought Tony's book. What a life; so many women and the HAIR. I'm enjoying it very much. He seemed to have a good later-life with his wife Jill. I had read Janet Leigh's bio right before he passed. I've heard I'm distantly related to Janet on her father's side. They both were very lucky to have had so much work in the early movie days.

San Diego Gal

Ed said...

Jill : i never met Tony. Only admired his art in the movies through the years. Here in Argentina he has a lot of fans and admirers that followed his carreer . As i said , I never met him,never saw him in person , but I felt him as a friend. He gave all of us his talent, his heart, his light. He truly deserved the Oscar , that one that never won. But he certainly got the love we, the entire world, feel for him . Glory for Tony. He will never be forgotten . My condolences and respect for you and your family. God bless you .

l_lambrianou said...

hDear Jill,

Having read your, 'My tribute to Tony.' I am so very, very glad that he found you when he did. It always appeared to me that he had a lot of love to give and although he got a lot of love from his fans in return, getting so much more love from you must have made him very, very happy; it must have fulfilled him.

My parents and I met Mr. Curtis at a book signing here in London over 10 years ago and we shall never forget how brilliant the man was. He showed us great respect, great courtesy and made us laugh so much. Yet, we are just ordinary people.

We shall miss him an awful lot.


With our love and respect,

Lambrakis Lambrianou.

cybersade said...

Life is so short but so empty when someone such as Tony passes. Take comfort in the memories you and Tony made and shared on your lifes journey together. I'm sure where ever he is on the next part of his journey that he is giving them laughter! Your eulogy to Tony was a fine tribute to a man we thought we knew but whom we did love.

Ruth, Dublin, Ireland

Steven said...

Tony had many talents. His ink drawings show his true talent on paper. I have some of his original works that keep me company. There are few men that can stand up to the challenges he faced in his life. A true American that loved life. We will miss him dearly.

Steven said...

Your tribute is perfect. Tony would be pleased. I especially like your references to his small boxes. I particularly liked his pen and ink drawings. He was talented in many ways like all creative people. He couldn't stop being himself. What is there to not like about that? What a great example he has left for us to live our lives fully never forgetting how precious life is and what a way to share through his art.

Thanks Tony for your "Love of Life" and not giving up. What an example for all of us.

Lourdes said...

Hi, Jill!
Tony was my favorite actor during all my whole life. Since I was a little girl I always love him.
I feel so sad when I heard about his passing.
Please, if you can put a stone near his grave because I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I can't go there.
He will always be in my hear.
Lourdes