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Judy Thorburn

06/26/05 Tony Curtis 80th birthday

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Judy Thorburn

MGM Grand Celebrates Tony Curtis' 80th Birthday with Fine Art Exhibition and Charity Event

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MGM GRAND CELEBRATES TONY CURTIS’S 80th BIRTHDAY WITH FINE ART EXHIBITION AND CHARITY EVENT 


By Judy Thorburn
Photographs by Stephen Thorburn

When legendary film icon and Henderson, NV resident Tony Curtis turned 80 on June 3rd there was reason to celebrate not only his birthday, but also his accomplishment in an area other than motion pictures that the star has dedicated a large portion of his life. Fifty years ago Bronx born Curtis (aka Bernard Schwartz) decided to branch out into another genre and express himself as a gifted artist/painter. His works have since been shown at galleries all over the world and he has hosted a one man London debut exhibit that sold out before the opening date. So to honor the star for his 80th birthday, on June 24th-25th the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino hosted a celebratory event where an exhibition of more than 150 pieces of Curtis’s creativity as an artist was on display and on sale for private collectors with all the proceeds going to the Shiloh Horse Rescue and Sanctuary, a charity that means so much to Curtis and his wife, Jill, who is the owner and founder. Personally, I am in awe and applaud him for his generosity in selling off his prize possessions, his paintings, for such a worthy cause.

 

Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anne Curtis, Kelly Curtis, Jill Curtis, Jillian, Larry Minetti, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, movie star, charity, charity event, Shiloe Horse Sancuary, 80th, art exhibition, artist, painter, celebrity, Bernie Schwartz, John Ensign, Senator Ensign, Kenny Guinn, Governor Guinn, Shelly Berkeley, MGM, MGM Grand, MGM hotel and Casino

As an artist, Curtis has shown incredible versatility in that craft creating a collection that consists of brilliantly colored paintings, assemblages, collages, and boxes that visually reflects his love of life and encompasses a broad range of subjects. His love of cats (I was told he has five) can be seen by depictions in many of his paintings as well as influences from his film career (i.e. Marilyn Monroe).

Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anne Curtis, Kelly Curtis, Jill Curtis, Jillian, Larry Minetti, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, movie star, charity, charity event, Shiloe Horse Sancuary, 80th, art exhibition, artist, painter, celebrity, Bernie Schwartz, John Ensign, Senator Ensign, Kenny Guinn, Governor Guinn, Shelly Berkeley, MGM, MGM Grand, MGM hotel and Casino

This wasn’t the first time Nevada has honored the multi- talented star. Last September, Curtis became the second entertainer residing in Nevada inducted into the Artist/Entertainer Hall of Fame at the UNLV College of Fine Arts. He was given the award for making an impact in the industry, for his active participation in the arts, and for donating time and sharing first hand experiences with students and faculty during regular visits to the university.

Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anne Curtis, Kelly Curtis, Jill Curtis, Jillian, Larry Minetti, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, movie star, charity, charity event, Shiloe Horse Sancuary, 80th, art exhibition, artist, painter, celebrity, Bernie Schwartz, John Ensign, Senator Ensign, Kenny Guinn, Governor Guinn, Shelly Berkeley, MGM, MGM Grand, MGM hotel and Casino

The MGM celebration was highlighted by an invitation only birthday reception with many family members, celebrities and dignitaries who came out to pay tribute to the actor/artist.  Present were Curtis’s daughters from the late actress Janet Leigh, actress Jamie Lee Curtis with her daughter Annie, Jamie’s sister, Kelly Curtis, former wife Christine Kaufmann, and other family members. Also seen in the crowd was comedian Rita Rudner, who purchased one of his paintings, and forty-ish but still stunning, former supermodel, Beverly Johnson.

Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anne Curtis, Kelly Curtis, Jill Curtis, Jillian, Larry Minetti, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, movie star, charity, charity event, Shiloe Horse Sancuary, 80th, art exhibition, artist, painter, celebrity, Bernie Schwartz, John Ensign, Senator Ensign, Kenny Guinn, Governor Guinn, Shelly Berkeley, MGM, MGM Grand, MGM hotel and Casino

A large stage surrounded by blown up photos from Mr. Curtis’s acting heyday and video screens playing old movie clips was set up against the back wall of the conference hall that was used for this event. State Senator, Shelley Berkeley presented Tony with a Certificate of Recognition saying it was on behalf of 700,000 Southern Nevadans she represents in the nation’s capitol. As a former New Yorker whose mother attended the same school as Curtis, Berkeley added, “I grew up listening to my mother talk about you being the most gorgeous boy in High School. You were a living legend in my home (when I was growing up).  Also on hand to offer congratulations and honor the man was actor friend Larry Manetti (co-star of Magnum P.I.), Assistant Dean Gronemeier of the UNLV College Of Fine Arts, on behalf of Dean Jeffrey Koep, a representative of the Navy (of which Curtis is a veteran), assistants to Governor Kenny Guinn and Senator John Ensign, and even a representative from the Government of Hungary, the country of Curtis’s heritage.  But, it was sassy daughter Jamie Lee who introduced herself and siblings in attendance as the “children representing the demon seeds of Tony Curtis”, which garnered loud laughs from the crowd. On a more serious note she went on to say, “As children we grew up watching him paint. We did not grow up with a movie star.  It is fitting to be surrounded in this room with his paintings as an artist.”

Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anne Curtis, Kelly Curtis, Jill Curtis, Jillian, Larry Minetti, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, movie star, charity, charity event, Shiloe Horse Sancuary, 80th, art exhibition, artist, painter, celebrity, Bernie Schwartz, John Ensign, Senator Ensign, Kenny Guinn, Governor Guinn, Shelly Berkeley, MGM, MGM Grand, MGM hotel and Casino

But, what is a birthday celebration without the cake? As a beautiful, delicious looking, six-foot tall cake was rolled from the sidelines everyone was told it was “filled with his favorite filling”. Wouldn’t you know, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator popped out of the top and sang Happy Birthday, not unlike the version sung by MM during the historic JFK birthday affair at Madison Square Garden.

Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anne Curtis, Kelly Curtis, Jill Curtis, Jillian, Larry Minetti, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, movie star, charity, charity event, Shiloe Horse Sancuary, 80th, art exhibition, artist, painter, celebrity, Bernie Schwartz, John Ensign, Senator Ensign, Kenny Guinn, Governor Guinn, Shelly Berkeley, MGM, MGM Grand, MGM hotel and Casino

I hope this birthday was a memorable one for Mr. Curtis. As an actor, artist and philanthropist, he deserves the best.  For all those achievements, Tony Curtis is surely a “super” star in more ways than one.

To make a financial donation towards saving abused or neglected horses, you can go online to http://www.shilohhorserescue.com or send checks to:
Shiloh Horse and Rescue Sanctuary, Inc.
2417 Hardin Ridge
Henderson, NV 89052
Or if you would like to personally help, contact Jill Curtis (Owner) at (702) 480-8906
 

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