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I met Tony Curtis at the Playboy mansion one day back in the 1980’s. I loved his characters in movies as I was growing up, so it was a thrill to meet him. He was also a friend of my mother, Colleen. For those who don’t know, Tony was a great painter artist and created a huge number of paintings. Also, he and his wife Jill Vandenberg did wonderful work on their ranch, the Shiloh Horse Rescue and Sanctuary, founded by Jill and her family. Tony’s artistic legacy lives on and the Shiloh Ranch continues to save lives. Thank you, good people.

Tony Curtis and Colleen Conte

tony-curtis-painting[1]

Tony

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Tony Curtis art

Tony Curtis and wife Jill Vandenberg

Tony Curtis and wife Jill Vandenberg

Tony Curtis and Colleen Conte

Tony Curtis and Colleen Conte

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Many years after my stepfather Richard Conte made his expansion (as I call it), another movie star entered my mother’s life, Mr. Cornel Wilde. Recently, I found two handwritten notes from Richard (Nicky) Conte to his wife Colleen (my mother) reminding her to be sure and get a certain movie poster to Cornel Wilde as a gift. Mom had always said that Richard knew his time was short and that he wanted her to hook up with Cornel. Cornel was a full package of talent – actor, writer, director, producer, soundtrack composer, fencing champion, artist, linguist, etc. I got to know Cornel pretty well. We all went to dinner and different events together. One event that stands out was the New Year’s Eve party at The Playboy Mansion. The theme of the party was lingerie, so most of the women and some of the men were dressed for bed time. It was quite a scene. Cornel and Colleen actually got married on a cruise ship in international waters, but then never had it officiated in the US, so she remained Mrs. Richard Conte. Years later, when Cornel made his expansion, at the time he was working on the sequel to his movie The Naked Prey from 1966. He gave me the script to read and was considering me as the soundtrack artist. I wrote a story based on his 1972 TV movie, Gargoyles before I met him. Cornel was a man of solid integrity and he sincerely loved my mother, Colleen. I sang an original song, Somebody Loves You at his funeral in 1989. Here’s to you my friend.

Cornel Wilde and Colleen Conte, photo by Kristopher Stone

Cornel Wilde and Colleen Conte at La Cage Aux Folles Restaurant in L.A. photo by Kristopher Stone

Cornel Wilde

Cornel Wilde

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