Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Tribute to Tony

For those fans who were not able to attend Tony's service yesterday, I wanted to at least let you know what I said for my Tony.

Thank you to everyone, all his fans across the world, for loving Tony like you did- you all meant more to him then you will ever know. All of you will all always be in my heart and we will always be friends.

Thank you to my Shiloh Family, who were there for me, both at the service and in spirit, and helped me stay strong. My heartfelt thanks to Dave Hickey who helped my family make arrangements at the Palm Mortuary and who stood by Tony's side to make sure that everything was done right and to show Tony the respect and dignity that he so deserved.

On behalf of Tony and myself, I want to thank you all for coming to help us celebrate and remember the life of this remarkable and larger than life man.

As Tony would always say, “I greet you with cordiality and good cheer.”

Tony and I have been together for 16 years, we would have been married 12 years next month. What a wonderful time that has been. Everyone here knows “Tony of the Movies”, I would like to take this time to honor the man behind the Matinee Idol.

As you may have already read, Tony passed in his sleep. He had been ill and had actually almost passed away in the hospital one day a few months ago. But in true Tony style, he fought his way back, in fact he recovered enough to come home. Those of us who were with him these last few months, have come to realize that he came home so that we would all have time to say good bye. This was his final gift- time to talk, to love, to kiss and hold hands, to sit together and watch a movie, to hug. To help us let go gracefully and to finally accept that his long and full life was naturally coming to an end. An end that came peacefully and quietly in the early evening, on his terms and at just the right time.

I have always told people that Tony was just the that way you always hoped he would be. By that I mean- that charming handsome man that you feel in love with on the screen- that was the real Tony. He was hilarious, kind, gentle, tough and strong, highly intelligent and incredibly witty.

Tony absolutely adored his fans and loved it when people would approach him for an autograph or to take a photo. At signings and events, he always made sure to spend time with each person in line, to make everyone feel comfortable and appreciated. We would watch as fans nervously approached with shaking hands but they always left with a big smile and stars in their eyes.

Tony was an enigma, a word he loved.

On the one hand a “Jedermann”- an everyman. He was a Husband, a Father, a Grandfather, a Brother, an Uncle, and a Friend. A hardworking man who came from very humble beginnings, a son of immigrants, a patriot who defended his country, a proud American citizen. A man who walked the streets of the World unencumbered, always curious, always approachable.


He was for the most part self educated. A man who barely finished High School but who could comfortably converse with Prince and Pauper alike, from Presidents to the working man.


An amazingly creative person, Tony wrote multiple books and volumes of beautiful poetry. But what he was the most proud of was his artwork. Tony loved to paint and he began drawing at a young age on the sidewalks of New York using his father’s tailor chalk. His acrylics are brightly colored, his line drawings precise and clean. But, to really appreciate the incredible workings of his inner mind, one only has to look at his boxes that he created. These artistic assemblages are of unrelated objects placed together in such a way as to evoke emotions unique to each viewer. They perfectly depict his complex personality and, right up to his death, he was working on his newest book to share them with the World.

Of course, we all know the Mega Watt Movie Star- bigger than the silver screen could ever contain. Someone who was revered, looked up to, and emulated. His immense body of work bridged the gap between Old Hollywood and New Hollywood; he was a true Movie Star in every sense of the word and he loved every minute of it.

One of Tony’s favorite poems is Mr. Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson. He could, and would, recite it by heart. A part of this poem just personified Tony perfectly and I wanted to share it with you.

“Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We the people on the pavement looked at him;
He was a gentleman from sole to crown
Clean favored and imperially slim.

He was always quietly arrayed,
And he was human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said
Good Morning and he glittered when he walked.”

Those of you who knew Tony well, will remember his fondness for white shorts and white sweaters and his ever present Stetson- this was all he ever wanted to wear. Of course, he loved to dress up for the evening and when he did, we always called him “The Armani Cowboy”. For Tony it really was “Armani or your Life”. But, if he could get away with it, and Tony could get away with almost anything- white shorts it was. Tony is even now wearing his favorite outfit- he is being laid to rest in his white shorts, his very favorite white sweater that had to be mended more times that can be counted, his Armani scarf around his neck and with his well worn Stetson under his arm.

He is also being laid to rest with his traveling bag, packed full with what he would always refer to as, “his goods”. In his bag we have placed:

Meaningful Photos and letters

A model of his car, the 25th Anniversary Edition Trans Am with what Tony called, “the screaming chicken” on it’s hood.

His favorite pair of driving gloves, Tony always wore driving gloves, even when he had stopped driving. After his illness in 2006, he was no longer able to, and was extremely fond of telling anyone who would listen that “Jillie won’t let me drive”. He was always, right up to the end, plotting ways to get his driver’s license back and convince me that he was still able to drive. But, more than once in the years before, I had arrived at the scene of a minor fender bender involving Tony, only to find him charming the people and signing their damaged hood or bumper.

As a child who grew up in poverty during the Depression, Tony always felt secure with money in his “kip” as he always called it. Of course, being old school, Tony didn’t call money ”money”, he called it Dough. So Tony, you have some dough in your kip, just in case you might need it.

We have included, a copy of his favorite poem Mr. Cory and a copy of Anthony Adverse, the book that he read while in the Navy and which later became part of his new Hollywood name,
Some of his Navy medals, Tony was a proud sailor and a World War Two Veteran.

His late son Nicholas’ baby shoes that Tony always brought with him wherever he traveled,
A patch from Hungary, Tony loved to speak Hungarian and was extremely proud of his heritage.
Tony loved to collect gold coins, so we added some of those.

His two favorite watches,

A yarmulke from the Dohany Synagogue in Budapest which he had helped to restore in his father’s name,

A bag of interesting colored stones that he had collected during his travels, which included stones from his friend Dodi Fayed’s grave,

A DVD of his film clips,

His “IB” which is actually his iPhone- We don’t know why he called it his “IB”, but he did and after a while so did we. Tony loved to “work” on his IB.

A few items from his Father’s Tailor shop,

A pair of sunglasses and a pair of reading glasses,

Seven packets of Splenda- Tony loved to sweeten everything with Splenda- no less than seven packets. Tony had a huge sweet tooth.

A Percocet,

A pair of sleeping eye blinders, which he always wore to sleep or to nap,

A picture and a recent poem he wrote to his little dog, Bronx,

The ashes from his dog, Jack, who was found abandoned in the desert a few years ago and who fell in love with Tony instantly and faithfully followed him everywhere. When Jack passed on, Tony kept his ashes. Now Jack is following Tony again.

We also included some of his favorite paint brushes and some paint and a sketch pad and a pen. Tony loved to draw on anything at anytime. Many of his friends would leave the dinner table with a napkin or even part of the table cloth that Tony had drawn on. He loved to do that.

An accomplished Fencer, he is also being laid to rest with one of his favorite Fencing sabers at his side.

As sad as it is to say good bye to our beloved Tony, we are so happy for him that he had such a long and amazing life. As Tony was fond of saying, “It would have killed an ordinary man.”


I want to thank you, sweetheart, for taking me, a simple horse girl from San Diego, on the ride of a lifetime. Thank you for all you have done for me. You will remain in my heart always and someday, I will take your hand again and we will continue on our journey together. I just want to share one very funny story that I will always treasure. Because we had such a large age difference, soon after we met, Tony was asked if it was dangerous to be with such a young woman? To which he immediately quipped, “Well, if she dies, she dies”.

Tony loved animals but it wasn’t until we met that he realized just how much. When I met Tony, he did not have any animals and his LA home was filled with pristine white carpet. But during these years here in Vegas, our house has always been filled with barking dogs, cats, and injured animals of all kinds including a paralyzed chicken, Ernesto. He even helped me care for and bottle feed an orphaned baby burro who lived at our Anthem home for 10 days until he could move to our ranch. Tony loved to visit our ranch, Shiloh. In fact, right before he became ill this last time, we were planning to build a house and permanently move out there. He was excited about the change and many times these last few weeks when asked about living at Shiloh, he would say “it’s going to be fabulous”.

Let us remember Tony as a gentleman, a kind, compassionate and elegant man, with a loving and generous heart, an iron will, a strong work ethic, a stubborn streak, a brilliant sense of humor and an enlightened way of moving through life. We won’t forget his unmistakable voice or his infectious laugh. As a friend simply said- “He was a thrill to know”.

His journey here has ended, but I know that he is somewhere even now, grinning that charming smile with that mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes, reaching out to take the hand of a friend or loved one. I can still hear that incredible voice saying, “Hi, I’m Tony”.
What a Life.

What a Man.

He was, as one loving fan so eloquently put it,

A Once in a Lifetime Man.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

My HEART is there with you

Cilla said...

I have read your Shiloh blog for a while now and loved it purely for the work you do for horses. Little did I know to begin with that you were the great Tony Curtis' wife. I heard here in the UK of Tony's death with great sadness and wondered how you and everyone at Shiloh would be, without him.
Loved your tribute, it made me cry to read it but also smile at the love you have for him leaping from the words. I think you have as great a heart as Tony. He definitely glittered when he walked. I think you probably do too.
cilla xxx

Flartus said...

Thank you for sharing Tony as you knew him with us. I loved reading about his more routine life with you.

mom2 rescues said...

A tribute filled with love.. Thank you for sharing Tony with us..

Pat ♥

Anonymous said...

I was a huge fan of your husband - I have been since I was a little girl - and was so saddened to hear of his passing. I have been a follower of your blog for quite some time, as well, and am a fan of yours for all the good that you do.
My thoughts and prayers are with you, and I hope that the many wonderful memories you have of your time together will help lessen your sadness.
Jayme from MN

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Tribute.

the 4 D's said...

It was my HONOR to do this for Tony...and for you, Jill. I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Dave

Anonymous said...

What a great tribute to this big man. We have watached his movies for years and I have followed Shiloh for the last few years. Thank you for sharing Tony with us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for printing this marvelous tribute here for us to read. Through you, Jill, we can know a little of the fine man that Tony Curtis was. I think the most telling thing about your tribute, Jill, is how fine a person YOU are. I'm sure that Tony felt very, very much loved.

Wormwood said...

An amazing tribute to a truly amazing man.
I'm a long-time reader of the blog, but I don't believe I've ever commented before. I just wanted to say Tony will be well and truly missed.

Anonymous said...

Jill,that was just beautiful. I have to say that, along with the Shiloh updates, I loved to see the photos of and read about your travels with Tony. Thank you so much for that. I wish that I could have met him in person. What a wonderful man. My thoughts are with you, always.

Sarah

Michael El-Gayar said...

Dear Jill,
thank you so very much for this wonderful tribute to our beloved Tony!

I despair that I was unable to attend the memorial service! But my heart and my thoughts were and are with you and your family (and with Tony of course) all day long ervery day.

And thank you so very much for keeping us so well informed. It is a comfort for us in these times of deep grief and sadness.

What are we without Tony???? I will miss him so very much!

WoofWhinnyWhisper said...

Your words inspire both laughter and tears, so eloquently you speak of such a wonderful man. What a life indeed!

Thank you Jill, for sharing him with all of us and for allowing us to be part of this journey with you.

I will never forget the photo I took of Tony at Shiloh, as Tony placed his hand on the head of that newly trained Mustang... two legends meeting... I look at that photo and see you and Sally over Tony's shoulder, smiling at him...

My heart is with you. We are here for you if you need us.

Anonymous said...

JILL...THERE ARE NOT WORDS TO DESCRIBE HOW I FEEL AFTER READING THIS TRIBUTE...YOU ARE AN AMAZING WOMAN...GLAD TO HAVE MET TONY THIS YEAR...YOUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER WAS SO EVIDENT!!! LINDA

arlene said...

That was a lovely tribute to a wonderful man.

Terry said...

Thank you for sharing your tribute with us.

MyShilohRanch said...

Oh my goodness, Jill ... thank you SO much for sharing your precious words and thoughts with us. It is obvious why Tony loved you.

Regrettably, I did not know about your ranch and mustang rescues at all ... and to find that your ranch is named Shiloh, blows me away. I named my little corner of the world ... Shiloh Ranch ... a name that I chose for my dream ranch, when I was a little girl.

My heart has been with the wild horses since I was a child, as well ... which is how I heard about your blog, today.

I have loved Tony, ever since I can remember seeing him. I loved reading your eloquent and personal words about your precious Tony. It truly was an honor for you two to spend the past 16 years together. A true blessing from G_D.

May He be with you in the coming hard days. And may your shared love for each other and the horses and animals bring joy and comfort to you. May you be surrounded with family, friends and loved ones to support you.

MUCH love and prayers from My Shiloh Ranch to yours!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

Tinalameda said...

Thank you for sharing that tribute, which brought tears to my eyes. My mother was one of Tonys biggest fans, our household loved him. Thank you for everything and please accept my condolences on the loss of you beloved husband and my gratitude for all you do for the horses.

Mikey said...

That was absolutely beautiful. I love the stuff that went with him, especially his dogs ashes. I've saved my dogs too and requested they be spread with mine when I go.
What a wonderful tribute to a man who was truly loved and will be greatly missed by all.

Found art blog said...

Thank you Jill. I hope to meet you and Sally again some time.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully loving tribute to such an amazing guy. There is no doubt that Tony really knew how to live.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful tribute! And I am sure that he was met in Heaven by many, including Mr. Jack Lemmon, with the quip, "The Great Leslie has arrived!" (in accordance to his film THE GREAT RACE).
Shiloh WILL go on...with Tony's help from above, now.
He may be gone from this Earthly realm, but his Spirit remains with us forever.

Anonymous said...

such a beautiful tribute for such a remarkable human being...very touching and loving Jill...you made me smile and think how lucky to even have been in the same room with Tony and you back in 94 @ the opening of Planet Hollywood in Vegas...such a 'Movie Star' Tony Curtis...the man of all seasons...Time will not forget him...Love, Jo

Breathe said...

What a lovely tribute. Just lovely.

Our thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...

Jill, we at respect4horses are so sorry for yor tremendeous loss. Tony was a great man, in more ways than just his movie carreer.
May the tranquility of the horses who owe their happy lives to you, help u stay strong in yor time of sorrow.

Life's greatest wisdom is to know the difference between right and wrong, life's greatest purpose is to do what is right, and life's greatest satisfaction is knowing u made a difference." -Simone Netherlands.

He made a difference.

xxx Simone

simone@respect4horses.com

Anonymous said...

Dear Jill, Thank you for such a brilliant and poignant message of love that you shared with us about your beloved, Tony. He truly was 'everyman.' And what';s more he was a 'mensch' - a Yiddish expression meaning 'the consummate gentleman!' May you and his family find solace in warm and nurturing memories now and always!

Amanda said...

Jill I am so sorry for your loss. I am happy y'all found each other. I am glad he went peacefully in his sleep which is what I wish for all of us at the ends of our journeys. He was a hero for sure.

Ana M. Descalzo said...

I will forever more remember Tony Curtis to be the BEST LOOKING man. I just read his booj American Prince. I wish I had meet him I have been in Love with his since I was a Little girl. Tony was my fathers age. I aways thought of him as this unaprochable movie star.I wish I had kbown of Shiloh before. His book was fansastic, I can't wait to read his other books. How lucky you were Jillie,to have been on the receving end of his love and admiration, I loved the was he got your phone number, he asked your date premision first. What a wonderful story. Thank you for being there for him and loving him
for all of us who loved him sooo much,from afar. I will aways keep you and Tony in my prayers.

Andrea N. Smart said...

Thank you very much for wearing your heart so lovingly on your sleeve. Your time with our screen idol Tony, has reinforced our knowledge of his goodness, and has created a connection with this great big beautiful man so many of us love.

May you rest peacefully Tony, in the knowledge that your Jilly is taking care of 'things' over here, and that your fans still love and adore you as much as ever!

Thank you for the laughter, the joy and those swooning moments that set us up for our own loving soulmates. Bye for now. A. xxx

barbara Cochran said...

When So many of the Celebrities Die, their Families try to keep their Memorial quiet and to themselves - This is such a Beautiful Memorial and a tribute to a Wonderful Man who belonged to his Family but also to his Fans. You are an inspiration, Jill - It is my Hope that other Families of Celebrities will re-think keeping their Loved One's Memorial Private and share with those of us Who had also loved them from a Distance. Tony will be missed - He was a Unique Man and very Talented. He was so Fortunate to have such an Insightful Wife by his side at his End. God Bless You and All of Tony's Children and Family.

Barbara Cochran

blgurney said...

Thank you for sharing so much of Tony with us. Your tribute was beautiful and so moving. It gives us, his fans from afar a insight into the man not the Star that we would see on screen.

Patty Kennedy said...

Thank you for your words, which touched my heart. May your sorrow fade with time.
My dear lady, you have written a brilliant, eloquent tribute to Tony. I know he would be so happy to read your elegant prose. You really must write a book yourself!

Anneke (Mudhooks) said...

Thank you for sharing your memories and thoughts with us. Some people wear their humanity like a suit and others, like Tony, simply exude humanity. You just knew that he got immense enjoyment out of life. He was lucky to have been able to so fully enjoy it and to be able to share that enjoyment with you.

He will be missed.

John Anthony Miller said...

Tony was just a awesome human being. I talked backstage with him for about 15-20 minutes at the Jules Verne Film Festival, and entered a famous person's number and address on his "IB". I found him to have lost none of the charm he always possessed. Very witty, polite and soft spoken. Later that night, I (we) took photos (you can see some of them on Facebook under John Anthony Miller) and still later on that night mingled with the crowds in the Edison Building. Before I left I went up to Tony and talked some more and to say I was leaving and give him my love. His last words to me were: "I am sure we will be meeting again." We will. In Heaven. What a man. I like to think of his legacy, what he has left behind...the impression he made on people like me. Beyond words. To me, Tony is very much still alive. I grew up with him watching his films, talked with him, and to me he is still very much a part of my life. These are just my thoughts. I had the honor and the priviledge to share a bit of time with this great man, this once in lifetime man.- John Anthony Miller (phantom@phantoms.com)

Jan Bryson UK said...

VERY SAD, WHAT A LOVELY TRIBUTE, HE WAS LUCKY TO BE SO LOVED.

Tom said...

My lady is Hungarian and I am an American living in Hungary. Your tribute was eloquent and was very fitting for a man who has much to do with our romance - we visited the Coronado Hotel early in our relationship and saw that the hotel was the film location of "Some Like it Hot" the favorite movie for both of us. Tony will always be remembered by us - of course your work with horses should also be lauded and we hope to visit the ranch some day. Tom and Maria

Anonymous said...

How generous of you, Jill, to have shared his love with us.

isajademarilyn said...

Very moving, can't stop crying. My heart is with you...
- Isa, France

Itsa Farm said...

What an amazingly beautiful tribute to an amazingly beautiful and charismatic man.

Lorraine Campbell said...

<3 A Rare Phenomenon <3