The Last Take: Hollywood Legend Tony Curtis Dead At Age 85

tony curtis

Tony Curtis thought that he had two professions; the profession of being an actor and the profession of being famous. (Photo & artwork: Nalle Westman)

By NALLE WESTMAN

Hollywood screen legend and one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1950s and 1960s, Tony Curtis, died Wednesday night at his home in Nevada at age 85. The handsome leading man starred in over 100 films including “Some Like It Hot”, “Spartacus,” and he received an Academy Award nomination for 1958’s “The Defiant Ones.”

Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz on June 3rd 1925, the eldest of three children to immigrant parents, Emanuel and Helen Schwartz. He served in the navy during World War II. In 1945 Curtis was honorably discharged from the navy and when he realized that the GI Bill would allow him to go to acting school he auditioned for the New York Dramatic Workshop and was accepted.

In the late spring of 1948 theatrical agent Joyce Selznick saw Tony in a play “Golden Boy” and within a couple of weeks she managed to sell him to the Universal Pictures. After changing his name, Tony began making small roles in films. His first screen appearance, a total of 2 minutes, was in a Burt Lancaster Film Noir vehicle “Criss Cross”.  His second movie “City Across the River”, from Irving Schulberg’s topical hit novel “The Amboy Dukes”, a small-budget juvenal delinquent quickie, caught some critics eye and Tony yielded a mention in the papers.

Within a two year period and ten mediocre pictures under his belt, Curtis was now the star of his pictures – mainly swashbuckle and GI-painting-the-town-red-on-furlough -type of flicks aimed to the teenage market, like “Son Of Ali Baba”, “No Room For The Groom” and “Houdini” (co-starring his first wife, Janet Leigh).

As his career developed, Tony steadily moved to more substantial roles, starting in 1957 in the harrowing show business tale “Sweet Smell of Success”, co-starring Burt Lancaster. In 1958, “The Defiant Ones” brought him an Academy Award nomination as best actor for his portrayal of a white racist escaped convict handcuffed to a black escapee, Sidney Poitier. The following year, he co-starred in one of the most acclaimed film comedies ever, Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot”, sharing the spotlight with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon.

In the mid-1960s Curtis’ career began to take a dive. With jobs harder to find, he fell into drug and alcohol addiction. During the 1970s he made only a handful of forgettable films, but appeared together with Roger Moore in a British hit tv-series “The Persuaders”, and went on to land roles in US tv-shows “McCoy” and “Vega$”.

In the early 1980s Curtis recovered from his drug and alcohol problems and found a new passion in painting, creating Matisse-like still lifes with astonishing speed. In 1989 he sold more than $1 million worth of his art in the first day of a Los Angeles exhibition. His painting “The Red Table” went on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2007. He also turned to writing, producing a 1977 novel “Kid Cody and Julie Sparrow” and in 1993 he wrote “Tony Curtis: The Autobiography.”

Curtis continued to make occasional films, but none of them were even close to be Academy Award winners; “Lobster Man From Mars” and “The Mummy Lives”, to name a few. His final role as an actor was in 2008 romantic war drama “David & Fatima”, in which he starred with Martin Landau.

Curtis was married to actress Janet Leigh for 11 years and they had two children together, Jamie Lee and Kelly Curtis, who both followed their parents into show business. In 1962 he married Christine Kaufmann, his then-17-year-old German co-star in “Taras Bulba”. He fathered two kids with her but his second marriage lasted just four years. He was married a further three times and had two more children with third wife Leslie Allen.

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Highway 101 Revisited

Highway 101 Revisited

(Photo: Aiju Salminen & Teemu Kumpulainen)

By Aiju Salminen
Pictures taken by Aiju Salminen and Teemu Kumpulainen with Lomography Diana Mini camera

We had a summer holiday roadtrip in USA. Rented a car, and drove from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles California. As a big fan of American 50’s and 60’s rock’n’roll music and design, I was delighted how that time period still existed around smaller towns stuck next to Highway 101. The bigger cities had moved on to the next century, becoming more up-to-date and modern, but the sleepy little roadside motels and diners could have been straight from The Happy Days. Was it because no one had the energy to make things more modern? Or was it because 1950’s was the golden age for the U.S., and they wanted to linger in that safe, cuddly time when everything was fine and dandy. The way things looked reminded me of the time I had not been born yet. The time when the summers were always warm and sunny but no one knew about global warming. The time when the atomic bomb was so awesome that you could organize Miss Atomic Bomb beauty pageant without a hint of irony. How sweet.

Highway 101 Revisited

(Photo: Aiju Salminen & Teemu Kumpulainen)

I really enjoyed seeing the old sights families had traveled to see for decades. And I took pictures of all the sun-bleached sights like they deserved, with an old-fashioned analog film camera. We went to Castroville where they had built “the world’s biggest artichoke to lure tourists. It coud have been a big hit back in the days when Marilyn Monroe was crowned as Miss Artichoke, now we were the only ones to take a picture of the artificial vegetable standing in front of the parking lot. We drank coffee in a café, accompanied only by the bored teenager who worked there.

Highway 101 Revisited

(Photo: Aiju Salminen & Teemu Kumpulainen)

We went to see the gigantic redwood drive-trough tree, (It was still possible to drive trough it, but people had smaller cars back then – the big SUV’s people have nowadays could not fit trough). We also went to “Prehistoric Gardens”, a forest with man-made life-size dinosaurs. No one was there except us, and the silent dinosaurs that had been standing there for nearly fourty years. Our roadtrip’s final destination was Hollywood. We took the touristy pictures of the legendary Hollywood-sign. We also thought about going to see the “King Kong 360 3-D Experience with ultra-high definition projectors”. But I guess we weren’t ready yet for a experience like that, and so we went to a record store and spent our last money on some old used LP’s instead.

Highway 101 Revisited

(Photo: Aiju Salminen & Teemu Kumpulainen)

Highway 101 Revisited

(Photo: Aiju Salminen & Teemu Kumpulainen)

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Bavarian Vintage Car Experience

Automobile Welt Eisenach

(Photo: Elen Mavrea)

By ELEN MAVREA

The exhibit, Automobile Welt Eisenach, in Eisenach, a small town near Munich, Germany, is a paradise for all vintage car lovers. The Automobile Museum was founded in 1967 and moved to its new home in June 2005. The exhibit divides the automobile history of Eisenach in 12 sections, every section presenting an era of automobiles from Eisenach’s production as well as objects that reflect the way of living of these certain periods.

The exhibition is divided into the following sections:

  • Beginning of the automobile (1898 to 1904).
  • Beginning of the industrial car manufacturing (1904 to 1914).
  • Car for the masses with Dixi and  the taking-over of BMW (1918 to 1930).
  • National Sosialism and Motorization in the 1930’s (1935 to 1939).
  • Warproduction (1939 bis 1945).
  • Post-war era (1945 to 1949).
  • Automobiles in the DDR (1952 to 1960)
  • High-performance sport (1950 to 1956).
  • Export-cars with IFA F 9 (1953 to 1970).
  • Leisure time cars (1955 to 1990)
  • Aborted research (1966 to 1988).
  • End of an era and new start with Opel and BMW (after 1990).

(Photo: Elen Mavrea)

Automobiles from every production period are exhibited, like for example the first Wartburg Motorcar from 1899, the Dixi 3/15, the BMW 328, series models from the Eisenach Car Manufactory and one AWE-Racecar from the year 1956. Bodywork studies made of wood, prototypes and construction plans give an insight in the evolution of automobiles.

(Photo: Elen Mavrea)

Over 100 Years of Automobile Production
More than a century has gone by since the first automobile has been built in Eisenach and with this a tradition well founded. Because of this predestination Eisenach and its suburbs have maintained a close relationship with the automobile industry, without this it would have been impossible in 1998 to celebrate 100 Years Automobile Production in Eisenach. In 1896 the entrepreneur Heinrich Ehrhardt (1840-1928) founded the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG. In the beginning the production was concentrated on bicycles and military vehicles such as transporters for ammunition or livestock feed. In 1898 began the production of the Wartburg Motor Carriage. This marked a prestigious day for the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG and made Eisenach one of three automobile producers in Germany along Daimler in Stuttgart-Cannstatt and Benz in Mannheim.

(Photo: Elen Mavrea)

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The Resurrection of the Dead

Helsinki Zombie Walk 2010

Helsinki Zombie Walk 2010 (Photo: Nalle Westman)

By NALLE WESTMAN

Zombie Walk, the phenomenon of the 21st Century, is spreading around the globe like a wildfire. The rather macabre looking event may look wild but is quite harmless – it’s just a bunch of youngsters gathering together to have some fun.

Helsinki Zombie Walk 2010 Helsinki Zombie Walk 2010 Helsinki Zombie Walk 2009

The first zombie Zombie Walk was held in October 2003, in Toronto, Canada and had only six participants. In subsequent years the Toronto Zombie Walk grew tremendously in size. This year Toronto is expecting over 5000 zombies to participate the event. Zombie Walks soon spread across North America, Europe and Australia; New York, San Diego, Minneapolis, Seattle, Brisbane, Nottingham, London, Amsterdam, Helsinki – and the list is growing each year.  Zombie Walks are here to stay – whether you like it or not.

Helsinki Zombie Walk 2009

Helsinki Zombie Walk 2009 (Photo: Nalle Westman)

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Stereoscopic Misadventures Re-emerge

The traditional 3D spectacles with red and cyan lenses. (Photo: Nalle Westman & Lea Mettovaara)

The traditional 3D spectacles with red and cyan lenses. (Photo: Nalle Westman & Lea Mettovaara)

By NALLE WESTMAN

The 3D craze sweeps the movie theaters again  like it did in the 1950s. The digital technology of today makes it easier for the theaters to adapt the 3D since the modern projectors can project flat or 3D movies. This time television is jumping on the bandwagon too. Only time will tell is this going to be another passing fad or something else.

The history of 3D films is almost as old as the history of the motion pictures itself. In the late 1890s British film pioneer William Friese-Greene filed a patent for a Stereoscopic movie process. The anaglyph technique exposed two reels of film simultaneously, through two lenses spaced as far apart as human eyes. The resulting prints were then projected simultaneously on to the same screen by two interlinked projectors, with one lens having a red filter and the other a blue one. The audience would don red and blue lensed spectacles to see a 3D moving picture. Later red and cyan became the standard because that combination produces less image ghosting than others.

A handful of experimental 3D movie presentations were given during the first decades of the early 20th century, but the 1920s saw the first 3D boom of the movie industry. The world’s first 3D feature film, a Harry K. Fairall production, The Power Of Love, opened in Los Angeles on September 1922 and only a couple of months later William Van Doren Kelley, inventor of the Prizmacolor process, presented his short film Movies Of The Future, in New York. Laurens Hammond and William F. Cassidy debuted their Teleview System also in late 1922. This form of projection rapidly alternated frames from two film reels. The alternating frame system would be reborn more than sixty years later. The Hammond & Cassidy vehicle, a space travel film called M.A.R.S. was the second feature length 3D movie in the world.

Others followed suit; in 1923 Frederick Eugene Ives and Jacob Leventhal produced a series of 3D shorts which were given a limited release by Educational Pictures and the Pathe Company and a French filmmaker Abel Gance experimented with 3D while shooting his widescreen epic, Napoleon. By the end of the 1920s the fad was withering and the Great Depression killed 3D almost entirely, but experimentation continued.

In 1929 the early version of color 3D camera was introduced and three years later Edwin H. Land invented the polarizing sheet and saw potential in using his polarized sheets for 3D projection. The first color presentation of polarised 3D projection was given, in June 1936, in Berlin. The film short was called Zum Greifen Nah,  and it was shot on two-color film stock. MGM film studios also experimented with some short subjects in the late 1930s-early 1940s.

Polaroid Corporation, made a fifteen-minute 3D short, titled New Dimensions, for the Chrysler Motors Exhibit at the New York Word’s Fair in 1939, depicting the assembly of a Plymouth motorcar. The Pennsylvania Railroad exhibit also had a 3D short at the Golden Gate Exposition of 1940 in San Francisco, before WWII put a stop to all that.

Meanwhile the Russians experimented with a method of 3D presentation that did not require the audience to wear glasses at all. The process, the parallax stereogram, is still used today in the production of  3D postcards,  3D magazine covers etc. The stereo photography had been around since the turn of the century, but Russian engineer Semyon Pavlovich Ivanov adapted the idea for the cinema.  Ivanov patented his method in 1935. The Russians produced two films for this system in 1940 before WWII interrupted their efforts. After the war the Russians went on to produce several more 3D movies. By 1955 there were 12 of these Ivanov model-3D cinemas  in the USSR, and though the system worked quite well, it required the audience to avoid unnecessary sideways movement of their heads as this would dispel the stereoscopic effect.

3D television set

The next frontier for 3D movies appears to be the home market. Television manufacturers have begun introducing 3D-ready HDTVs in 2010. (Photo: Nalle Westman & Lea Mettovaara)

The 1950s were the golden age of 3D filmmaking.  It all started on November 26th 1952, when a movie called Bwana Devil became the first 3D color feature film in the world. Soon all the major film studios were jumping on the bandwagon and dozens of 3D films saw release during this decade. For the most part, studios seemed to gravitate towards monster & horror movies when it came to 3D – like The House Of Wax starring Vincent Price, and  The Creature From The Black Lagoon, but also several big budget a-productions were shot in 3D too, like MGM musical Kiss Me Kate and Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder.

After the mid-1950s the 3D craze was waning and in the early 1960s it was practically over. Some obscure films were released – like several sexploitation films. In early 1960s, an ex-army engineer and photographic expert, Colonel Robert V. Bernier found a way to eliminate the need for dual-reel movies. His new technique, SpaceVision, worked by overlaying two stereoscopic images on a single reel. As long as reels were spliced properly during printing, viewers no longer needed to worry about syncing issues, which was the problem with the previous system; if one projector was slightly out of focus, or out of rack, the result was eye strain for the audience as their eyes tried in vain to correct the discrepancy. Unfortunately the first SpaceVision vehicle, an overlong science fiction film titled The Bubble, was so bad that it didn’t start a 3D renaissance among the moviegoers.

In the late 1970s – early 1980s there was a brief resurgence in 3D with a trashploitation theme. Films like Jaws 3D, Amityville 3D and Friday The 13th pt III made rounds in the theaters but this time the fad was much shorter than in the 1950s. The IMAX film Transitions became the first 3D movie to be paired with polarized lenses rather than the typical anaglyph glasses. With polarized lenses, an image is beamed towards the viewer and refracted through the glasses. Because each lens is polarized differently, the image received by each eye is slightly varied. When the brain receives these two similar but unique streams of visual data, it combines them into one 3D image.

The advent of digital film made 3D post-production work much simpler and 3D movies are starting to appear almost as regularly as they did in 1950s heyday. 3D has hit its third era of mainstream popularity, but is it going to stay? Only time will tell.

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The Art of Arson in Black and White

The Art of Arson in Black and White

(Photo: Nalle Westman)

By NALLE WESTMAN

It seems that The Long Hot Summer is reenacted in the real life each summer. Arsonists thrive in the heat. The Cover staff found art in a burned down canoe shed and here are the results.

The Art of Arson in Black and White The Art of Arson in Black and White The Art of Arson in Black and White The Art of Arson in Black and White

The Art of Arson in Black and White The Art of Arson in Black and White

The Art of Arson in Black and White

(Photo: Nalle Westman)

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Fighting Against the Odds

Vasa

The Vasa Museum receives over million visitors each year. (Photo: Nalle Westman)

By NALLE WESTMAN

Stockholm’s top attraction, the 17th century warship Vasa, is an unique experience. It’s the oldest intact ship in the world and also the largest waterlogged wooden structure conserved ever. Nearly 30 million people has visited the ship since November 1961, when the provisional museum Wasa Shipyard opened. The millions of visitors expose the ship to a great stress. No matter how intensive care it’s under, the ship won’t last forever. The scientists are fighting a high-tech battle against the odds.

In 1961 Vasa was raised from the bottom of Stockholm harbor after lying there 333 years. Without a proper conservation the ship would have quickly deteriorated if the hull had been simply allowed to dry. The conservation was done by spraying polyethylene glycol (PEG) over the ship. PEG was used as a substance to replace the water molecules in the wood structure, thereby preventing the cracking and shrinking.  The spray treatment lasted 17 years, followed by another 9 years slow air-drying.

The most ideal way to preserve Vasa would be placing it in oxygen-free dark room, but this is out of the question; the museum generates hefty profits through admissions, retail sales and a restaurant. Besides, what good would it be to have a national monument that nobody can see. The museum is constantly monitoring the ship for damage caused by decay or warping of the wood. In 2004 a new climate system was installed to stabilize the temperature and humidity. The main hall is kept at a temperature of 18–20 °C (64–68 °F) and a humidity level of 55%.

In 2002 spots of white residue were noticed on Vasa. These stains were the first indications that the ship contained considerable amounts of sulphuric acid. It is estimated that the wood now contains around two tons of sulphuric acid, and a further five tons or so may build up once all the sulphur has oxidised; this might eventually destroy the ship almost entirely. Another threat seems to be that treating wood with PEG in an acidic environment can generate formic acid and eventually liquify the wood. Also a current problem is that the old oak of which the ship is built is starting to give way. Even though the odds are against it, the scientists keep on fighting to preserve Vasa as long as they can.

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