Tuesday 18 November 2014

TONY CURTIS - 30 September 1961

Actor Tony Curtis was still one of the most popular Hollywood actors in 1961, especially after his portrayal of a pretty slave-boy in Stanley Kubrik's blockbuster 'Spartacus' in late 1960. In October 1961, Tony would start shooting 'Taras Buba' in Argentina with Yul Brynner and a German starlet called Christine Kauffman. 

Tony and his wife Janet Leigh - who had married 10 years previously, on 4 June 1951 - accompanied by their daughters Kelly Lee (born on 17 June 1956) and Jamie Lee (born on 22nd November 1958) boarded the SS Argentina in New York on a trip to South America. The ocean-liner made a stop-over in Recife-PE where the Curtis had the chance to see the opening of the Spring's Games (Jogos da Primavera)   arriving in Santos-SP on 26 September 1961

From Santos they took a cab to climb the steep range to get to São Paulo city where they would stay at Hotel Jaraguá, at rooms 2007 & 2008. At some part of the ride the taxi had two punctured tyres and as it would take too long until the driver changed them the Curtis were offered a ride into another car belonging to 'O Cruzeiro', a Rio de Janeiro illustrated magazine that had been following them up the mountain. They accepted the courtesy and were in São Paulo in no time. 

Tony & Janet - who was riding high in popularity due to her portrayal of a shower victim in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller 'Psycho' - had a lot of media coverage about their stay in Brazil. 

On 27 September 1961, they gave a press-conference where Janet explained she was visiting South America to accompany her husband and was also on an official good-will mission from the US government towards some universities in Argentina.

Janet, Kelly, Jamie and their nanny flew down to Buenos Aires on the Saturday, 30 September 1961, the same day Tony would command a variety show on TV Record. Mr Curtis had been persuaded by someone at TV Record to have an impromptu personal appearance at Teatro Record on Saturday at 2:30 pm to be broadcast on Channel 7. No one knows the amount he was paid but Tony must have made a few bob on that afternoon. It was easy to fill the entire theatre with so many fans eager to pay top cruzeiros to have a chance to see the popular heart throb in person. 

Brazilian Black comedian Chocolate who knew how to ad-lib for hours was enlisted to support Tony Curtis fill a whole hour with all sorts of non-sense and keep the audience intertained. Tony danced with some members of the audience and even tried to sing.
Tony & Janet stroll through Avenida São João in late September 1961. 
Tony & Janet walking on the streets of São Paulo.
Janet Leigh & Tony Curtis wave at pernambucanos at their stop-over in Recife-PE. 
Leaving New York harbour for South America, September 1961. 
Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee, Kelly Lee & Tony Curtis on board of SS Argentina. 
Tony & Janet at their press-conference on 27 September 1961, at Hotel Jaraguá, in São Paulo, interviewed by Radio Bandeirantes and Radio Piratininga among many. 
Tony Curtis in Argentina in October 1961.
Janet Leigh brought the kids down to see their daddy Tony who was more interested in Christine Kaufmann who he married in 1963, have 2 daughers and divorce in 1968. 
Janet Leigh em anúncio do sabonete Lever, na mesma Capricho de 1961.

Janet Leigh stayed in Argentina for 4 weeks having flown back to Brazil with Kelly, Jamie and the nanny on 4 November 1961. This time Janet had time to enjoy herself in Rio de Janeiro having made friends with Odete LaraAgnaldo Rayol who invited her to see the opening of 'Skindô', at the Copacabana Palace, a lavish Brazilian musical revue that emulated those of Broadway. US citizen Harry Stone who made Rio his home, took Janet to the opening of a panoramic restaurant on top of Mesbla, a department store where she dined and danced with Jorge Guinle, a local rich play-boy. 

On 8 November 1961, Janet went to Belo Horizonte-MG; the following day she flew to Brasília-DF, the futuristic Brazilian capital which had been inaugurated on 21st April 1960. In Brasília where she stayed at Hotel Nacional. Janet was received by President João Goulart, who ironically would be overthrown 2 years later in a putsch commanded by Washington. Janet also visited the Brazilian Senate while it was on session. She showed interest in buying some farm land near Brasília and made a quick visit to Goiania-GO on 10 November 1961. Apparently, Tony had the same intention... whether they bought the land or not is a moot point. 

Janet and the kids stayed in Rio de Janeiro until 15 November 1961; apparently they were waiting for Tony to finish his work at 'Taras Bulb' in Argentina and join them in Rio to fly back to the States but Tony would only arrive in Rio (by train) on 30 November 1961, so they flew back home by themselves. Tony stayed in Rio for a few days having taken part in the Brazilian premiere at Cine São Luis of his latest Hollywood movie 'Outsider' (O sexto homem); Mr Harry Stone took him on a visit to Fluminense F.C. where they saw a show especially done in his honour; Tony danced the cha-cha at night-club Nazaré; and finally boarded the SS Argentina back to New York on 5 December 1961. The next day the ocean-liner made a stop-over at Salvador-BA and Tony had a chance to meet with the local talents. 

In retrospect, it looks like Janet Leigh & Tony Curtis decided to travel together to Brazil and Argentina as a 'farewell tour' to their marriage that according to Curtis had crumbled about 1960:  "For a while, we were Hollywood's golden couple," he said. "I was very dedicated and devoted to Janet, and on top of my trade, but in her eyes that goldenness started to wear off. I realized that whatever I was, I wasn't enough for Janet. That hurt me a lot and broke my heart."

Apparently that makes sense for as soon as Curtis and Leigh divorced in 1962, Janet married former Swedish director-writer-actor-producer Helmer Robert Wilhelm Brandt, later stockbroker Robert Brandt (1927–2009).

Tony Curtis dines at Hotel Jaraguá with Harry Stone & missus plus the man from fabric manufacturer Brasperola that made the best linen in town and sponsored his performance at TV Record.
1st October 1961 - OESP - Tony Curtis and Chocolate 'desconversam em inglês e português' (un-speak in English & Portuguese) no palco do Teatro Record. O ator foi aplaudido ontem à tarde por uma platéia de adolescentes entusiasmados.
2nd December 1961 - The governor of Estado da Guanabara, Mr. Carlos Lacerda invited Tony Curtis for a private chat at his government palace in Rio de Janeiro-GB. Curtis was on his way back to the USA after having shot 'Taras Bulba' in Argentina during October and November 1961. 

At São Paulo minha cidade (20 January 2012) Mirça B.Pinto wrote about having met Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh:

Em uma ocasião, a Sra. Gaspar Diez, agente da Cia. Ybarra de Navegação e mãe de minhas amigas Montserrat e Valentina, conseguiu que fôssemos apresentadas ao casal Tony Curtis-Janet Leigh no Hotel Jaraguá pelo sr. H. Stone, empresário da maioria dos atores americanos que visitavam o Brasil. Ficamos 2 ou 3 horas no aguardo de vê-los e recebermos um autógrafo no saguão do andar que estavamos hospedadas; fazendo que no dia seguinte, fôssemos nós as celebridades da escola, pois havíamos conseguido a façanha quase impossível: ficar cara a cara com astros de Hollywood!

Lembro-me que usei saia pregueada de tergal branca, blusa roxa de boucle, e meu primeiro sapato de saltinho (baby) também branco. Estava usando perfume Shalimar, que foi alvo de comentário positivo de Miss Leigh, que achei muito magra - naquela época as mulheres tinham corpo 'violão', tipo Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida etc.   by_laser@yahoo.com.br

João Felix wrote on 22nd January 2012: Mirça, lembro bem dessa data. O Hotel Jaraguá era um dos melhores da cidade. Eu era taxista e estava deixando um passageiro na porta do Hotel quando vi Tony Curtis e Janet Leigh, junto com a filha bem pequenininha, uns 3 aninhos (hoje é Jamie Lee Curtis, uma atriz de primeiro) saindo e entrando no carro que estava na minha frente. Eu era vidrado pela Janet & Tony e os segui discretamente desde o Hotel, pela 9 de Julho, subindo a rampa to tunel até a Avenida Paulista. Cheguei a abanar as mãos a eles, e num gesto muito simpático, eles retribuiram o aceno. Eles acabaram por entrar pela garagem de um edifício e aí os perdi de vista. Foi emocionante para mim ve-los de tão perto.  jfvilanova@gmail.com

19 April 1961 - Just a few months before, 'Who was that lady?' (Quem era aquela pequena?) released in April 1960 in the USA - showed Tony Curtis & Janet Leigh as the perfect Hollywood couple. Two years later they would apply for divorce. 
SS Argentina in 1963, the ocean-liner that brought Tony Curtis & Janet Leigh to South America 2 years earlier. 


  1. Hello! Henrique from Brazil here! I have a card signed by Tony Curtis on this occasion. Two signatures in one card! =P Anyone want to buy it?