Doug Aiton reflects on his interview with Tony Curtis

Continuing his series of columns, Melbourne radio legend Doug Aiton recalls his interview with Tony Curtis.

“He was good natured and likeable and he had none of the trappings of a big movie star about him.”

I had heard of course that Tony Curtis was coming in to the studio. And I looked forward to meeting the man in person. He arrived on time with his minders and came in to the studio looking much older than he had in his main movies.

I had dreamt up an intro to him and as he sat down I said, without introducing him, that Tony Curtis in one of his films had rushed after his motor driver, now on the ground, and said with great alarm “Are you alright?” The driver had replied “Yeah I’m fine” whereupon Tony Curtis had leaned back and slugged him.

Tony was listening to this with great attention and finally he burst in to laughter as if hearing it for the first time “Yeah, yeah Johnny Dark it was. Johnny Dark” whereupon he stood up, leaned across the studio and shook my hand with great glee.

It was something that I got used to during the interview. Every time I said something that amused him, he leapt up, burst out laughing and offered to shake my hand again.

In the end I had to allow for the time it took for him to shake my hand. You would swear that he had heard these quotes for the first time. It was a funny thing. I saw him arrive at the studio with a very serious face. And then I saw him depart with the same face; deeply thoughtful and in his own thoughts again.

Anyway, he was a huge superstar at the time. Or rather, some decades before with such hits as Some Like It Hot, Johnny Dark, and Sweet Smell of Success.

He was an incredibly handsome lad in his hey day on the screen. Now his face had filled out and he had clearly had something done with his hair.

But he was fun. He was good natured and likeable and he had none of the trappings of a big movie star about him. He was an ordinary lower class Jewish boy called Bernard Schwartz who had grown up on the tough side of New York.

His first movie, way back in 1950 was with the legendary Jimmy Stewart in Winchester 73 where he played a man being shot at, along with others, and he looked incredibly handsome for a person in that fix. Then he went on to be one of the big stars in Hollywood, to which he added the bonus of marrying Janet Leigh.

Anyway, it was a very great privilege to meet him even though I couldn’t get through that slight difficulty of him shaking my hand after almost every comment.

About the Author

Doug Aiton was the Drive time Presenter at Melbourne’s 3LO from 1987 – 1997.

He has a combined past of newspapers and radio including a weekly column for the Sunday Age for about ten years. He is married to Judy and has three children.

Now in his 70s, Doug still presents a regular program on The Pulse Geelong.





Edited by Jessie Aiton

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