From the Telegraph:
He was born Bernie Schwartz on June 3 1925, the son of an impoverished Hungarian immigrant, Manny Schwartz, who had himself arrived in New York with hopes of making it as an actor. Unable to speak the language, Manny Schwartz found a tailoring job and remained in the Bronx with his family. Bernie grew up in a predominantly Hungarian-speaking part of the Bronx, and recalled that he did not learn to speak English until he was seven years old. At 12 he spent his days playing truant and working as a shoeshine boy outside Bloomingdale’s department store. He supplemented his income by throwing himself under the wheels of oncoming traffic, pretending to be injured, then begging for the taxi fare to hospital. At night he spent most of his time stealing from shops and bars. “I was a real delinquent kid,” he recalled, “but acting put me on the straight and narrow.”
link: Tony Curtis – Telegraph
Not that straight, and not that narrow, he struggled with addiction and led a big, messy, difficult life–and people seemed to love him all the more for it.