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The Curious Case of Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis When tabloid magazines proclaim that the stars are "just like us," they have a point. After all, when they die some celebrities leave behind estate disputes - often nastier and on a larger scale. Famed Hollywood actor Tony Curtis is a case in point. Curtis, who died at age 85 in 2010, was a screen legend who lived the Hollywood life, a circumstance that added up to six marriages and five children. His last wife and widow, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, was 42 years his junior (they married in 1998 when she was 31 and he was 73).

Controversy over Curtis' family legacy erupted quickly after his death - his children found out they wouldn't receive anything from his estate. It turns out that five months before his passing, Curtis changed his will, disinheriting his children and handing over the multimillion estate to Jill. Such a course of events would be distressing to any child, and Curtis' daughter Allegra was the most vocal in her shock and suspicion of undue influence upon her father in his final days:

We were all blindsided and it was very painful... It's written there but I don't believe that was his last wishes.

Willy Wonka Gold DiggerAsserting a loving relationship between her father and herself, Allegra pointed to Jill Curtis as the source of the sudden change in the actor's will. Adding insult to injury, Curtis' widow went on to auction off a hefty portion of her deceased husband's property, including all manner of mementos and memorabilia - from his vintage Thunderbird and Some Like It Hot yachtsman's jacket to correspondence with friends and his Navy medals earned in World War II. As a reporter for Forbes rightly wondered, "one would think she could have spared something for his children."

Despite these legitimate, natural concerns, Jill and the estate auctioneers maintained that they were fulfilling Curtis' wishes to the letter, an arrangement that happened to correspond with substantial monetary gain. So don't be tempted to think the stars are better off than us in any essential way - fame and fortune only seem to magnify the misery of a family feud.

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