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Legendary US Film Star Tony Curtis Dies

Actor Tony Curtis (file photo)

Actor Tony Curtis (file photo)

One of the last great U.S. film actors of the 1950s, Tony Curtis, has died at the age of 85.

The coroner in suburban Las Vegas, in the western state of Nevada, where Curtis lived, reports the actor died of cardiac arrest late Wednesday. Curtis had been in ill health for several years, and was recently hospitalized after he had trouble breathing.

Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz in New York City. After serving in World War II as a Navy seaman, he began his acting career studying and performing in New York. He moved to Hollywood in the late 1940s after signing a contract with Universal Pictures and spent several years playing small parts before achieving stardom. He went on to star in such classic films as "Some Like it Hot" and "Spartacus."

Curtis earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in 1958's "The Defiant Ones," playing an escaped racist convict chained to a black prisoner, portrayed by Sidney Poitier.

He was married for several years to the late actress Janet Leigh. Their daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, also became a film star.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.