I tried to shoot Hollywood legend Tony Curtis for many years, but he was either always busy or not feeling well.
"...can you make me look like an icon just one more time?”
To my shock, on the final time I was going to ask him, I received a note back saying if I travelled to Vegas that I could shoot at his house.
The evening before the shoot my mobile phone rang...I saw it was Tony’s number. I answered with a heavy heart as I was expecting him to cancel the shoot; why else would he call? But instead in a quiet and humble voice Tony said “Andy I know you are coming to photograph me tomorrow, I’m not in a good way at the moment but I still look forward to seeing you. But may I ask you one thing? Can you make me look like an icon just one more time?”
The flag idea came to me as I was driving to his home in Vegas. I knew his nickname was the American Prince and with the Stars and Stripes painted on his face I knew he would not need to move around too much and this would be easier. But meeting Tony was one of the highlights of my career as not only was he one of my personal icons but he was also a sweet guy.
I flew home elated the next day and was extremely eager to see the photos. I emailed one portrait to Tony’s wife, Jilly, so she can see how the portrait would look. She emailed back straight away informing me that Tony had collapsed that morning at an art gallery. Jilly asked if I could send a high res file over so she could print it out and take it into the hospital to show him.
The following day Jilly took the print to show Tony. His eyes were fixed on the print for a short while. He then turned to Jilly and said “This is the best photo ever taken of me!”...he died that afternoon.
Little was I to know this would be the very last portrait taken of this Hollywood star. The fact that it was his favourite portrait is something I shall cherish forever.
Tony Curtis was born today in 1925.