Friday, June 30, 2023

Houdini '53 at 70: Star power

Concluding our 70th Anniversary celebration of Paramount's classic Houdini starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.

For many members of the audience in June 1953, the true appeal of Houdini was its two stars: Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. The actors were married in real life and darlings of the fan magazines at this time. Houdini was the first movie in which they starred together. In fact, this bit of stunt casting went along way to convincing the studio to make the movie. So we have a lot of reasons to like Tony and Janet!

I thought it would be fun to share a typical fan magazine story from the time. This comes from the August 1953 Screenland and dares to ask the question; are Tony and Janet overexposed? Horror! See, fake controversy was around even back then. Enjoy.

Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh went on to have long and successful carers. Janet took the most famous shower in cinema history in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, winning a Golden Globe. Tony appeared in the Billy Wilder's classic Some Like It Hot (with former girlfriend Marilyn Monroe) and was nominated for an Oscar for The Defiant Ones. Their daughter, Jamie Leigh Curtis, went on to stardom herself. 

Unfortunately, their marriage didn't last. The couple divorced in 1962. Both actors penned autobiographies; There Really Was a Hollywood (1984) and American Prince (2008). Janet died in 2004 at age 77 and Tony in 2010 at age 85.

For me, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh will forever be the first and still the best cinematic incarnations of Harry and Bess Houdini.

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