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WHEN A BOY FROM THE BRONX GOES HOLLYWOOD...

Sad to say, Tony Curtis, who died on September 29,2010 at the age of 85, never got the Oscar he fantasized about in Guy Flatley's 1977 interview for The New York Times. Nevertheless, he delivered many unforgettable performances both on and off screen.

"Do you want to know my fantasy?" whispers Tony Curtis, his blue eyes gleaming boyishly. "I dreamed I would get the book published, it would make the best-seller list, and a producer would buy it and ask me to write and direct the movie."

In Hollywood such dreams have been known to come true, though it is doubtful that "Kid Cody & Julie Sparrow" will nab a Pulitzer. Still, Curtis is pleased to take a bow as the surprise author of this just-published novel extolling the virtues and vices of a raunchy western-movie star and an engagingly thuggish Las Vegas gambler who turn out to be the offspring of the same frolicsome sire.

Perhaps the ecstasies of authorship will eradicate Curtis’ grief over not having been nominated for an Oscar as the sexually impotent matinee idol in "The Last Tycoon." "I used to fantasize about the Oscar," says Curtis, lean and youthful looking at 51. "There I would be, at age 26, the youngest and handsomest actor ever to win the Academy Award. But Hollywood never gave me that chance. When Jack Lemmon got nominated for 'Some Like It Hot,' and I didn’t, I took it personally, man. At a time when I needed the accolades of my peers, they turned their backs on me. Maybe it was because of my two marriages and of the ramifications to all the people involved.

"The Oscars have been turned into a big business, and they can be bought. You tell me, what the hell was O.J. Simpson doing up there on that stage? Or Muhammad Ali? What do they have to do with movies? Where was Barbara Stanwyck, baby?"

Where, in fact, was Tony Curtis? It’s been nearly three decades since Bernie Schwartz, The Bronx’s gift to Hollywood, blossomed into Tony Curtis, the curly-top wonder of such Universal quick-epics as "The Prince Who Was a Thief" and "Son of Ali Baba." Although he later matured into an actor of impressive substance in "The Defiant Ones," "The Sweet Smell of Success," "Some Like It Hot" and "The Boston Strangler," his stature has been diminished in recent years because of personal pressures–-such as alimony payments–-that have frequently forced him to grab at the first role dangled before his eyes. Nor is it likely that he will rebound to glory with "Sextette," in which he plays one of a legion of lovestruck men in Mae West’s life, or "The Manitou," an occult thriller in which he shares tremors with Stella Stevens, Burgess Meredith and Ann Sothern.

In the coming months, a sizeable portion of Mr. Curtis’s artistic passion will be spent at the typewriter, pounding out his second novel, "Starstruck," about a handful of Hollywood hopefuls in the late 1940’s, one of whom commits suicide, thereby reminding alert readers of Marilyn Monroe.

"Marilyn and I met each other in 1948 at Universal, where she was trying to get herself put under contract," Curtis recalls. "The guys used to fall off buildings when she’d walk by wearing a see-through blouse before anyone ever heard of a see-through blouse. I had a Buick convertible and asked her if she wanted a ride back to town. After that we developed a genuine bond of affection.

"Years later, when I finally got to work with Marilyn in ‘Some Like It Hot,’ it seemed to me that she took unfair advantage of everyone, making them adjust to her pace. And it was not necessary. She was not as vulnerable and frightened as she led people to believe. That business of always being late, of building up tension by being the last one to arrive at a party, was carefully staged. Marilyn got off on that sort of thing–-that was her real movie. Like Barbra Streisand, Marilyn always knew precisely what she was doing."