Limo guy Steve Coppick drove Tony Curtis around once, and says he “was one of the warmest and nicest celebs I’ve come across over the years. At first I didn’t think it was going to be, as that day the company I was with was stretched thin for sedans so they had decided to upgrade Curtis to a stretch. He walked out a little past the pick-up time, and I knew from the body language he wasn’t in a good mood. I had the back door open, but he just glanced inside.
“‘I ain’t gettin’ in there…I’m not dead yet!’ he said, very serious.
“I explained that he was being treated and why. Instantly he softened and asked, ‘Can I ride up front with you?’
“So after clearing out my bag and other things, off we went with Curtis playing with the radio until he found a hip-hop (!) station and then settled in for the ride to visit a private gallery up behind the Magic Castle to talk about his Marilyn paintings. Soon, when he discovered that I was a film fan, he began to tell me various little snippets of his own history. Which is why I know that the still-vacant lot on Franklin at Outpost was the very first place he lived after moving to L.A.. (The apartment building was still there when we passed by.)
“But you didn’t need to know his history to quickly realize this was a guy who had enjoyed his hedonistic life in an almost humble way. Unlike some successful people I’ve met over the years, Tony Curtis did not make it seem like his good fortune comes from sort sort of ‘I’m a winner, you’re a loser’ strand in his DNA. He might be unapologetic about his appetite for life, yet he always remembered he was the kid from Bronx who also gotten very, very lucky in life.
“It was shortly after this that he moved full time to Henderson, Nevada (next door to Las Vegas), but every time I was heading south on the 101 that mural of him on the overpass would bring back our encounter.”