Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

Get With It, Kids!—Tony Curtis

I know a secret. At least, that’s what I was told only a few months ago. Well, to be perfectly honest, I overheard it.

When I came home from the studio one day, Janet was giving an interview. “Tony knows the secret of enjoying life to the fullest extent,” she was saying. “He has a sure-fire cure for boredom, depression, loneliness—almost any blue mood that happens to strike a person.”

“Who me?” I said to myself.

Then Janet saw me standing in the living room doorway. The girl is not only adept at Houdini-type magic, she’s also pretty good at mental telepathy. “Yes, you,” she grinned.

It’s funny, but until then I hadn’t really stopped to think about it. Since then, I have—pretty thoroughly. And I’ve found that it’s taken me years to learn the secret of enjoying life to the fullest. Most of the time, I acquired the knowledge unconsciously. As time went by, the fund grew, and so did the fun! I’m only sorry that I didn’t get started sooner. But let me tell you about it. . . .

Actually, enjoying life is strictly a matter of becoming interested. In what? In anything, in everything.

Today, when people ask me what I do with my spare time, I’m likely as not to reply, “What spare time?” When I’m not making movies, I paint. I build model boats, listen to records on my Hi-Fi set, practice fencing, keep up with the latest tricks in magic. I take pictures, cut tapes on my tape recorder, read books and scripts, travel—among a few dozen other things. Recently, I’ve taken up the clarinet. And when do I relax? Well, start this paragraph again. That’s when!

What about you? Are you ever bored with life in general? Do you feel that you have a humdrum routine of living? If you’re in school do you consider yourself a martyr when you have to open a textbook? If you work, do you idle away your off-hours, perhaps not even bothering to wonder what to do?

Everyone has some time on his hands. Today, teenagers have more than ever before. Today, they’re able to make more money from part-time or full-time jobs. And I wonder what they’re doing with those precious extra hours and dollars, though neither may run into the thousands. What are they doing with their lives? Wasting them? Or getting the most out of them?

Sit back in your chair for a moment. Now, begin listing for yourself all of the interesting things in this world. Things to be seen and done. Things to be read and listened to. Places to go. What do you know about them? What are you doing about them?

How do you begin? Interests are something you have to discover for yourself. And you discover them only as you find out about yourself.

What kind of a person are you? Do you like group activities? Or do you prefer to spend your daily free moments alone? Had you rather be indoors or outdoors? Do you like something that has to do with your work or your studies? Or would you just as soon get away from them altogether? It’s entirely up to you.

Have you ever had a yen to paint? Why not try it, then? You’re fairly certain you have no talent, but would like to dabble anyway. Go right ahead. If you feel strongly enough about a scene to want to attempt to capture it on canvas, the feeling is what counts. When you look at the finished product, you’ll also see the scene you saw when you were inspired to paint it. It’s for your own pleasure.

I first took up painting when I was in school. My initial effort was titled “Portrait of a Toothache.” I must admit that it was realistic. I’d heard the theory that an artist must suffer slightly. And I had. Consequently, I painted the experience.

These days, I paint other things as well. Portraits (I’ve progressed to people now), landscapes, almost anything that happens to strike my fancy. And I’ve found that a great many other Hollywood citizens find relaxation in this form of art—Van Johnson, Frank Sinatra, Jeanne Crain—to name a few. Care to join us?

Another of my favorite interests is photography. After facing still cameras, I decided to try my hand at shooting some pictures of my own. And that’s how I became what is known as a shutter-bug. It’s a fascinating hobby and you find you can never seem to learn all there is to know about it. First, perhaps you’ll be content to merely click the shutter. But it won’t be long before you’ll experiment with camera angles, all tangled up in lighting effects, reading every photography magazine you can get your hands on.

I’ve been lucky in having the advice of some experts who come around to shoot magazine layouts. But there’s a photographer in almost every town. Why not ask him for some tips on his trade? Look around for others who are interested and start a camera club, or a class, with the professional as professor! In talking things over, comparing your work, you can improve it.

In larger cities, you’ll find night schools which offer these courses. And remember, you don’t necessarily have to have an expensive camera. Just learn to get the most out of the one you do have.

This hobby shouldn’t stop with the shooting of pictures. If you want to really follow it through, there are companies that put out developing sets for a very small price. Your darkroom? Many a bathroom has been converted to this use. And then comes printing, which is an art in itself. Try it, or stand by while your local photographer is going through the paces and you’ll see what I mean!

Do you like to travel? Actors get around a lot on personal appearance tours, but everyone can heed the call of the open road. You needn’t cross the country or an ocean. There’s undoubtedly something of interest within a few miles of your home. And the joys of sightseeing are all yours.

I’d be willing to bet that there’s also something to be seen and learned in your own home town. In mine, New York, I used to visit bits of Germany, Spain, China, Sweden, France. There are so many national groups in cities that it’s like having a bit of the old world transported to your doorstep. These people bring with them their customs, their food, their workmanship, memories, atmosphere.

You prefer to stay at home? Well, there’s reading. And there’s writing. Writing is one of the best ways possible for a person to express himself, be it by typewriter or pen or pencil. Here, again, is something for your own enjoyment. Perhaps you’ll find a market for your literary efforts, perhaps not. However, if you feel something strongly enough to put it on paper, it’s highly possible that it will interest others, too.

Also there’s letter writing. There are pen-pal clubs which can put you in touch with letter writers all over the world. These folks exchange thoughts and ideas, give one another an insight into the lives and customs of both far away and nearby places and people.

There’s collecting. Everyone collects things, more often than not quite unintentionally. So why not be specific about it? Collector items include almost everything under the sun: stamps, recipes, books, matchcovers, buttons, knicknacks, records, autographs, and loads more.

Rock Hudson is one of Hollywood’s greatest record enthusiasts, and we’ve come to agree that it’s sort of a fraternity. For instance, when Rock was abroad, he made a point to stop in at record shops with the idea of adding to his collection. “There I was,” he said to me, “in a strange country, a strange town, knowing so very few people, yet the minute they knew that I had a sincere interest in their music, you’d have thought I was a long lost brother!” Not only did he make friends he otherwise might never have met, he also brought back some of the greatest discs I’ve ever heard. He can enjoy them and remember his trip for years.

A while back, I mentioned night school classes. If you are fortunate enough to have some of these in your city, why not see what they have to offer? Out here, Hollywood High provides instruction in such varied subjects as drawing, painting, home decoration, woodcarving, ceramics, sewing, upholstering, rug making, cooking, languages, business—even lip reading! If you don’t have the advantage of an available night school, strike out on your own. Find others who are interested in a specific activity, locate an expert and begin your own class. Surely in your town there’s a gal who is clever at whipping up her own creations and it’s my guess that she would welcome the chance to teach others. The same holds true when it comes to cooking.

In classes, you may obtain a mint of knowledge. And never underestimate their value, even if the Board of Education is currently forcing you to attend them! I speak from experience. Take a fairly recent occurrence, for instance, “Bon jour,” said the Captain.

“Bon jour,” I said jovially. French? So far it was a cinch.

In a few moments, Janet and I were seated at a table by a window with a view. Then the waiter arrived to hand us menus. “Soyez les bienvenus,” he said.

“Would you like some?” I asked my wife.

“Some what?” she wanted to know.

“Some soyezbienwhateveritis,” I said. “Maybe it’s like vichyssoise.”

“Tony,” she grinned. “I think he was saying welcome.”

“Oh,” I said, deflated. “Merci,” I told the waiter.

As you may have guessed, Mr. and Mrs. Curtis were enjoying a visit to Paris. A few years before, Mr. Curtis would have thought a visit to the moon more likely. Paris was in songs and novels and daydreams. Oh, it was in textbooks, too. But these I had gone to great lengths to avoid when I was exposed to them in school. I’d had my choice between French and an easier subject. As far as I was concerned at the time, there was no choice. After all, my immediate friends spoke Bronx to me, and I wasn’t going anywhere.

I never thought I’d voluntarily go out and buy a book of French grammar and spend hours pouring over it. And what did Curtis do? He studied French avid, of course.

Don’t laugh. Perhaps it does seem fantastic, but if something similar happened to you, would you be prepared? Get with it, kids!

You don’t have to be in movies to learn from them, however. Motion pictures can be your springboard, too. And chances are, you’ll land right in the middle of the bookstacks in your local lending library. For instance, you liked the film adaptation of the Hemingway book? Well, the rest of his novels are awaiting you on your library shelves. And just what were those Yankees trying to prove to Miss Scarlett? You’ll find this answer and many, many more—in both fact and fiction sections.

See a picture which has some connection with your studies and you’ll find that you’ll have a far better and more colorful conception of the time and the people. Your textbooks will come to life as you picture the historic characters and places in your mind.

Try concentrating upon the background musical score in a movie sometime, if you’re fond of music. You’ll soon realize how important it can be. And if you don’t have an appreciation of certain kinds of music, it’s likely that you soon will. One of my buddies spent a long time ignoring the classics. Then his ear caught part of the score from a Joan Crawford film. He couldn’t get the tune out of his mind, thought it was the greatest. He tracked it down. And after humming it a few times for record salesmen, he finally got the melody across. Turned out to be from an opera, the likes of which he thought he’d never enjoy. Today, he’s enjoying a brand new record collection in a brand-new field of music.

Interested in interior decoration? Note the sets in the next picture you see and pick up a few ideas for your own home, apartment or room. Motion pictures employ the very best technicians and you have the advantage of seeing the work of experts. The same goes for the field of designing. The studio designers necessarily have to keep ahead of the styles, as release dates may be held up. And you may be certain that you’re seeing the smartest gowns. Take a few tips from those in the know. They’re yours for the price of admission. Find the star who has your type of figure and follow her lead in shopping for yourself.

Your interests can do many things for you. For one thing, they can make you the life of the party, when it comes to entertaining a crowd. Take magic; I did. And although I didn’t study the tricks of this trade for the purpose of attaining social success, I have found it extremely useful whenever I’ve done personal appearances. And, of course, when I’ve been asked to perform at parties, I’ve been able to oblige.

I first began to study the fundamentals of magic when I was making “Houdini.” I started with the simple tricks and then progressed to the more difficult ones. Why not try it yourself? You’ll soon discover yourself developing your own style, as does everyone, and you’ll also find it very gratifying. Or, if you prefer, pick up some books on handwriting analysis or palm reading. You’ll be the answer to dozens of hostesses’ prayers.

You don’t have to have interests in common with everyone else, to follow the herd, so to speak. You can appreciate those of others, and they can appreciate yours. Mine and Janet’s are different for the most part. However, we both make a point of encouraging one another. Whenever I come home looking tired, she’ll grin and say, “Go play with your records or build a boat.”

Whenever I think she should relax, I toss her a crossword puzzle book and say, “Get to work, right now.”

People can lead you to interests. Have you ever met someone who’s so fascinated by a particular subject that you find it exciting to simply sit and listen? Have you found yourself becoming so carried away with this subject that you want to learn more about it? Then, by all means, do. That’s how I acquired my Hi-Fi set.

However, you don’t have to spend a mint of money. Your city government, your state and federal governments realize the importance of boys and girls, men and women being able to do something constructive with their leisure time. That’s why they’ve provided parks, and playgrounds, tennis courts, golf courses, swimming pools, libraries, adult education courses for the benefit of all of us.

And it’s my theory that every one of us should take advantage of some of these.

Interests lead you to people. They enable you to help people. Your activities might include volunteer work for your local hospital, social service work helping to raise money in charity fund drives.

They lead to good citizenship. Political parties welcome campaign volunteers and then, too, you can see what goes on in the political arena.

Interests can lead you into careers. And into marriage. Mine did. And Janet and motion pictures have made me the happiest guy in the world.

Well, that’s my secret. But I’m not asking you to keep it to yourself. In fact, I hope you’ll spread it around.