Reflecting on his career in Hollywood, Tony Curtis told PEOPLE in 2008, "I was a good-looking kid. That's the only reason I got into the movies." Curtis, who died Sept. 29 at age 85 from cardiac arrest, certainly capitalized on his assets: He appeared in more than 100 films, with roles ranging from a slave in Spartacus to a musician disguised in drag in Some Like It Hot. His looks kept him busy offscreen as well. He romanced starlets such as Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood, married five times and had six children (including actress Jamie Lee Curtis with his wife of 11 years, Janet Leigh). Most recently, he lived a quieter life in Las Vegas with wife Jill VandenBerg and focused on his other passion, painting. Through it all, the actor-born Bernard Schwartz, a poor kid from New York City-never lost touch with his prefame self. "Although he looked, smelled, dressed, traveled and ate different than his old friends, they knew that somewhere under his glow and fancy cars lurked Bernie Schwartz, and they loved him for it," Jamie Lee told PEOPLE. Indeed, as his widow told mourners at an Oct. 4 memorial, "People always wonder what he was really like. He was exactly like you thought he would be. He was that charming, handsome man you saw on the screen."
- With reporting by Johnny Dodd/Los Angeles,
- Mark Gray/Las Vegas.