VIP Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis ( June 3, 1925 - September 29, 2010)

The Bronx boy named Bernard Schwartz who became a movie star as Tony Curtis isn't usually thought of as a pothead. But in his 2008 autobiography, Curtis says marijuana was very popular in Hollywood around the time of his 1970 bust for carrying pot through Heathrow airport.

Curtis first won recognition in The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), where he expertly plays a swarmy PR hack who tries to smear a jazz guitarist as a pot-smoking commie. After Curtis's character plants a bag of weed on his victim, his poetic line is "The cat's in the bag, and the bag's in the river," a line he watched screenwriter Clifford Odets write on set.

He was also notable in Some Like It Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe, and as a slave/bard in Spartacus (1960), written by VIP Dalton Trumbo. In 1965, Curtis voiced the character of Stony Curtis (pictured) in an episode of The Flintstones, wherein Wilma wins him as her slave boy for a day.

Curtis wrote in American Prince: A Memoir: "Before I flew to London to start shooting The Persuaders, I carelessly threw a little marijuana in one of my bags. By this time pot had become very hip in Hollywood, and everyone and his brother was smoking it. Marijuana was cheap, and it wasn't addictive. The worst feature of smoking pot was that you tended to eat a lot of munchies. That, and the possiblity that it might accidentally find its way into your luggage."

After customs found his stash, Curtis was permitted to go to his hotel with a summons to appear in court the following morning, when he was held in a cell until his case was called. The judge, a woman, asked the actor to explain himself. "Well, ma'am, I don't drink alcohol, because of what it does to me. But marijuana seems to calm me down," he said. He got off with a 50-pound fine, but the incident was reported in all the UK and USA papers. One headline read, "Tony Curtis Broke and Busted."

The actor felt "humiliated" but took the negative attention philosophically, telling himself, "Whatever happens, it won't be as bad as my childhood." According to an interview with director Val Guest, while filming The Persuaders, "Tony was on pot at the time and I used to have to say 'oh, go and have a smoke.' Because he always had some gripe of some kind." Roger Moore jokingly told him off, but later credited Curtis with helping him quit tobacco, as did Michael Caine.

Upon meeting Suzanne Pleshette, Curis mused, "I still get a jolt of vitality when a woman finds me attractive....Some people need alcohol. Some people need drugs. I need the attention of beautiful women." Curtis, who was married six times, played a Native American introduced to alcohol in the Marines in The Outsider, a film for which many thought he should have been nominated for an Oscar.

In 1976 Curtis appeared as an aging actor in The Last Tycoon, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's last novel. By then, he was mostly relegated to B movies and had developed a cocaine addiction. He was rushed to the hospital in 1984 due to advanced liver cirrhosis as a result of his alcoholism, and went into rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic.

When Curtis died in 2010, among his mourners was his daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, who smoked marijuana in Halloween, and VIP Arnold Schwarzenegger, fresh from signing a bill to reduce marijuana possession to an infraction in California.

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