Despite the tabloid sounding heading above, I can’t resist telling the stories I have heard directly from the individuals involved. This is not second hand gossip or innuendo (from at least one side). In this case it was Tony Curtis.
One of the great perks of doing research for books is having the great honor to interview the icons of entertainment and other fields of endeavor. It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to meet and spend time talking with film legend Tony Curtis. In fact, I stayed in contact with Tony until his death in September of 2010. I even have a statue from Tony among my favorite possessions in my office.
Tony was a wonderful raconteur and his stories of old Hollywood were amazing ( at least to me). Some of the stories were brutally frank, some were more or less apocryphal. He often told of the beautiful women that he had over the years. Of course he spoke of Monroe, Natalie Wood among others. My curious nature led me to ask him who was his greatest lover.
“Zasu Pitts,” he answered
I laughed at the nonsensical notion of one of Hollywood’s sexiest leading man with the frumpy, dowdy, older comedienne Zasu Pitts. But he was serious.
“I’m serious. I was doing one my early movies. I think it was Francis the Talking Mule with O’Connor. I had a bit part at Universal. I had a free night and she hit on me. I thought , Why not?….She was incredible…. especially when she took her dentures out…”
He also told me a shocking story about Marilyn Monroe. I was all ears for that.
Do I believe this story that I repost below? As I mentioned, Tony had many stories that were certainly exaggerated for effect. Some were apocryphal. Some were true. I will present this story that Tony retold me in a shorter version and was fleshed out in this newspaper story that included excerpts of his his last memoir.
Tony wrote about Marilyn in his last memoir, “Tony Curtis: Nobody’s Perfect” that was co-authored by Michael Munn. The book gives a far deeper story than I heard from him about Monroe. This story I repost below is from The London Express in 2011 and gives an interesting version
Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and a secret love child
A NEW book reveals the traumatic episode that destroyed the couples long on-off romance and why the late actor never forgave his Some Like It Hot co-star.
By JANE WARREN, Mon, Jun 13, 2011
TONY Curtis first met a beautiful starlet named Marilyn Monroe in the autumn of 1948.
“I’ll never forget the moment I first saw her. She was very voluptuous. She had red hair then, tied in a ponytail. Not much make-up. She took my breath away,” he recalled.
Marilyn Monroe was, like Tony Curtis, new to Hollywood and wanting to be a star so he offered her a lift in his cheap Buick convertible and drove her to the hotel where she was staying.
She gave him her number but it was a week before he had the courage to ask her out. They then began what he said was his first true love affair.
“I never felt like that about a girl before,” Curtis said. “I really liked her and she liked me.”
After their first few dates the couple spent the night together at a friend’s beach house and Curtis realised he was falling in love with Monroe. What he hadn’t bargained for was that she would so quickly float the idea of them getting married.
“It confused me this whole idea of being married to anyone – let alone Marilyn. Maybe that was because I’d never seen my parents happy together. So I said, ‘You know one day we might get married,’ and she said, ‘You promise?’ and I said without thinking it through in any way, ‘Of course.’ We were almost teenagers in love [he in fact was 23 and Monroe 22] and you don’t ever get over your first love.”
His throwaway remark was to come back to haunt him a decade later when the couple met again on the set of Some Like It Hot, both having found fame – and marriage to other people – in the intervening years.
Curtis was married to Janet Leigh, with whom he had one daughter and another – who would become actress Jamie Lee Curtis – on the way.
Monroe was married to husband number three, playwright Arthur Miller. “I loved the idea of working with Marilyn in a movie,” Curtis said. “My marriage was in a bad state and I had no idea what hers was like but I had this insane idea that maybe something would happen between us while we were making the movie.”
When filming began in August 1958 it became apparent the chemistry was as fresh as ever. “When I walked on the set and saw her I swear to you I was in love with her all over again and her with me,” he recalled. She hadn’t forgotten his promise.
“She kept reminding me that I had said I would marry her when we were both successful. Whenever she smiled at me and said, ‘Let’s get divorced and then get married,’ a little thought went through my head of, ‘Yeah that might be nice.’ Then I would remember how miserable marriage had made me and put it out of my mind. But whenever she said it I always told her, ‘Let’s wait and see’ and she took that to mean we probably would.”
He later wondered why he never told her it was never going to happen. “Maybe it’s because in some small way I loved the idea that it could happen.”
He added: “I honestly think I was the kind of guy Marilyn needed at that time. She’d squeeze my hand and say, ‘Remember your promise.’ She married men who would be her father but as a lover what was Miller to her?”
In September the unit moved to southern California to shoot beach scenes. Miller wasn’t on location and Monroe was feeling so relaxed that at one point she whispered to Curtis, “Come and see me tonight.”
In her hotel room one thing led to another. “She told me she loved me and more than anything wanted to have babies with me. That made me feel awkward. My wife was expecting our second child. It wasn’t a marriage I wanted to stay in but I didn’t want to get divorced at that time because I thought that was the wrong thing to do. But Marilyn wanted to divorce Arthur Miller if I divorced Janet.”
Once again he failed to say no.
“Maybe I should have but nobody’s perfect, as they say.”
Events took an unsettling turn when Miller appeared. Curtis suspected Monroe had told her husband about their night together. Then he noticed she looked a little heavier than normal. Shortly afterwards a newspaper claimed she was pregnant.
Monroe was so unsettled by the publicity that she was barely able to work.
It took 83 takes for one simple shot of her saying through the door: “It’s me, Sugar!”
Soon her lines were written on cards and placed all over the set.
When Miller confirmed publicly that Marilyn was pregnant her whole demeanour changed and so did the atmosphere on set. During yet another endless series of takes by Monroe on one scene, Curtis lost his temper and shoved a glass of ginger ale at her.
Miller flew out of his chair at Curtis, who pushed him to the floor and then warded off a furious Monroe. Later that day Curtis went to see Miller and Monroe in their trailer.
“Don’t you want to accept my apology?” he asked. “Only if you’ll apologise for sleeping with my wife,” Miller replied.
He also threatened to “beat the hell” out of Curtis but Monroe cried, “Stop it! That won’t fix it.”
A bemused Curtis asked what there was to “fix”. Monroe replied, “I think the baby is yours.”
“It couldn’t have been Miller’s because he wasn’t up to the job anymore,” Curtis told his biographer Michael Munn 30 years later. “Marilyn made mention to me that he wasn’t able to make love to her any more.”
DURING the first week of November 1958 Curtis and Monroe filmed their last scene.
“She had behaved well all day and at the end of the day we were on our way to our trailers and she said, ‘Tony, I’m having our baby and now you have to marry me.’ She was desperate because she wasn’t happy. She figured I could make her happy.”
Curtis insisted he did consider what role he should play in the child’s life but then it was reported in Dec em ber 1958 that she had had a miscarriage.
He suspected the baby had been aborted on Miller’s orders. Despite the fact that his daughter Jamie Lee had been born just three weeks previously, the episode threw Curtis into a depression that contributed to the break-up of his marriage to Leigh.
It coloured his attitude towards Monroe for the rest of his life. After that he rarely spoke about her and when he did it was usually with thinly veiled contempt.
As Munn says: “They loved each other, they talked about marriage, they slept together but whether they could have actually resolved all that remains unanswered because it all came to a shattering end when she became pregnant with a child he believed was his.”
The memoir is Tony Curtis: Nobody’s Perfect by Michael Munn (JR Books)