God bless you Tony
I was very sad to hear of the death of Tony Curtis. He was more than a good actor. He was a good man and a great friend of my family.
Whenever he was in London, he always came to see me. Whenever I saw him, he made me feel better about the world we live in. It did not matter what problems he may have had, he was always full of fun and ready to have a laugh. Even his health problems did not slow him down. When he was confined to a wheelchair, he drove it like a Ferrari.
After the death of my beloved son Dodi, I did not wish to see anybody. In fact, I gave instructions that no appointments were to be scheduled. But then Tony arrived at Harrods, unannounced. He had come from Los Angeles especially to see me. I could not refuse. Seeing him put me back in touch with the world, as it was before the tragedy in Paris. For the first time, I laughed, because not laughing was simply impossible if Tony Curtis was in the same room.
When Dodi had first gone to Los Angeles, Tony was one of the first people to welcome him and make him feel at home. In a very real way, he acted as a father figure to Dodi in my absence. I shall always be grateful to him for that. Dodi loved him and so did I.
What the public saw was only a fraction of the man he really was. Yes, he was a good actor and much better than the critics said in his early days when he was written off as just another a good-looking Prince of Hollywood. He starred in two of the films that must be in everyone's Top Ten Motion Pictures made during the second half of the 20th. Century: The Sweet Smell of Success and the unforgettable Some Like It Hot, arguably the best comedy ever filmed. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for The Defiant Ones, a film that changed racial attitudes and helped to bury the era of racial segregation in America.
But Tony was much more than an actor, as he was much more than a handsome face. He was also an artist of considerable talent. One day, when he was living in Hawaii, an image came into his head and he could not wait to get it down on canvas.
The image was of Harrods on the beach at Waikiki, the famous surfing spot in Honolulu. So, there in a thousand splashes of oil paint, he depicted the world's most celebrated store, surrouded by palm trees and with swimmers on the beach where the Brompton Road is usually found.
When he brought the picture to me, I loved it. I suggested that we should make one thousand prints of the painting so that other people could share his vision of my store. He agreed. We decided to sell each one for five pounds and give all the money to children's charities. And that is what we did. But not before Tony took the painting on to the Dame Edna Everage show to drum up sales for the highly collectable Harrods prints.
I was delighted to stage in the store an exhibition of many of his best paintings and then he started designing crockery and pots, all with striking decorations. The man was a marvel. And he was a marvellous friend. I cannot tell you how much I shall miss his laughter. I shall never forget the day he opened the Harrods Sale and a cheeky girl TV reporter asked him what he was selling. "My shorts, for a start", he said, starting to unbuckle his belt and take down his trousers. "I heard you wanted to buy them". The reporter blushed and ran for the door. Tony kept his pants on and me laughing.
In my eyes, he has no equal as a man and Hollywood will never see his like again. His memory and legacy will never die as he was a unique individual and gift from God.
God bless your soul Tony, have a laugh with Dodi in heaven.