Jamie Lee Impersonated Tony Curtis During Funeral Speech

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October 22, 2010 | 9:05pm EST

Jamie Lee Curtis lightened the mood as she honored her late father Tony Curtis at his memorial service earlier this month by imitating his famous deep voice.
The Some Like It Hot star passed away on 29 September after suffering a cardiac arrest and more than 400 mourners turned out to pay their last respects at a private funeral in Las Vegas.

Tears were streaming down Jamie Lee’s face at the end of her touching memorial speech, but she insists it didn’t start that way.

Instead, the True Lies actress decided to greet grieving guests by showing off her impersonation of the acting legend – and she recreated the moment during her first TV interview since Curtis’ death – on chat show The Talk – on Friday.

She said, “I was asked to speak at the last minute and so I said, ‘Hello you beautiful people, you got dressed, how nice, it’s a privilege for me to see you.’

“He really was an invention, if you will. This was a guy who was in the navy. He was… a guy from the streets of New York and he became this other thing. He changed his name and he changed his whole life, and the invention of Tony Curtis was his life.”

Jamie Lee endured a difficult relationship with her late father following his bitter divorce from her actress mother Janet Leigh when she was a child, and she admits they never shared the traditional father/daughter bond.

But she learned to love him as the Hollywood icon he had become, and confesses her admiration for Curtis stemmed mainly from her love of his work.

Jamie Lee explained, “Children are complicated and messy, and he was not a father; he was not interested in being a father – and this is not a slam against him – …he did what he had to do from a financial standpoint, which was honourable of him to do, but he wasn’t an involved father. Therefore, I look at him much more from the perspective of being a fan of him. I was more of a fan of his work, of his spirit, of his joie de vivre (joy of living)… My mother was never a diva, my father was bigger than life, who lived in Vegas!

“(There was) no (bond), not at all. Except for the fact that I inherited genetically a part of him. As I said at his funeral, I inherited his desperate need for attention… But I’m working through that!”