RIP, Tony Curtis: His Little Piece of Houston History

Tap-dancing into Houston's hearts
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Tony  Curtis has died

, the longtime actor and comedian checking out at 85.

Yes, he had a Houston connection. And a fairly recent one.

Eight years ago, when construction was finally nearing an end on the $100 million Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, TUTS announced what show and what star would get the honor of opening the impressive facility.

Some people -- well, us, to be sure, but others too -- hoped the fact that TUTS had an amazing new theater guaranteed to draw crowds no matter what was on stage would mean that the company might expand its horizons at last.

`Twas not to be, as we wrote in a feature on TUTS' years of cliched seasons:

Finally -- after 15 or so years of planning and scheming and begging money and plotting political machinations, after enduring endless seasons of cramped spaces, crumbling infrastructure and shabby, faded surroundings that screamed Podunk to the rest of the show-business world, after three years with no home at all -- the day had arrived.

The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts was ready at last. (Almost ready, anyway, and what would such an opening be without a few furiously crossed fingers?)...

Now TUTS has announced its biggest season ever -- the first in its glorious new home, the palace built largely for its benefit.

Brimming with pride, TUTS staged a press conference to let the world know what shows had made the cut to be put on in this most important of all years. To shout out just what would be presented in that magnificent venue after it opens in May.

To do so, it brought along the star of the opening production; the star who, along with his show, would forever be remembered as having the honor of opening the Hobby Center.

Hey, Houston, TUTS said at that press conference, bursting with peacock pride, meet...Tony Curtis. Who'll be coming to town in a warmed-over rehash of a mediocre 30-year-old musical called Sugar, which is now called Some Like It Hot.

...Not only was Tony Curtis alive, not only was he "singing on pitch," according to officials, but -- in a TUTS-ian moment if ever there was one -- [TUTS head Frank] Young beamed a few days later that Curtis "is taking tap lessons!"

Much of Houston's arts community simply shrugged their shoulders about the new TUTS season; "That's Frank" was heard more than once.

For others, their thoughts were summed up best by Mary Lou Aleskie, executive director of the critically acclaimed Da Camera society.

"You build an amazing $100 million performing arts facility, and what you get is Tony Curtis taking tap lessons," she said. "You don't know whether to laugh or cry."

RIP, Tony. You had a hell of a ride, and you opened up the Hobby Center. And learned to tap.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.