Thomas Quinn Curtiss

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Thomas Quinn Curtiss
Thomas Quinn Curtiss

(1915-06-22)June 22, 1915
DiedJuly 17, 2000(2000-07-17) (aged 85)
Alma mater Browning School
OccupationJournalist, writer

Thomas Quinn Curtiss (June 22, 1915 – July 17, 2000) was an American writer, and film and theater critic. He is also known for his relationship to author Klaus Mann.

Klaus Mann German writer

Klaus Heinrich Thomas Mann was a German writer.


Early life

Curtiss was born on June 22, 1915, in New York City, the son of Roy A. Curtiss and Ethel Quinn. He attended the Bovee School for Boys, a private day school on New York's Upper East Side, where he was friends with Louis Auchincloss. [1] He graduated from the Browning School in New York in 1933. He studied film and theater in Vienna and Moscow, where he was a student of the film director Sergei Eisenstein.

Louis Auchincloss American lawyer, novelist, historian, essayist

Louis Stanton Auchincloss was an American lawyer, novelist, historian, and essayist. He is best known as a novelist who parlayed his experiences into books exploring the experiences and psychology of American polite society and old money. His dry, ironic works of fiction continue the tradition of Henry James and Edith Wharton. He wrote his novels initially under the name Andrew Lee, the name of an ancestor who cursed any descendant who drank or smoked.

Browning School

The Browning School is an independent school for boys in New York City. It was founded in 1888 by John A. Browning. It offers instruction in grades kindergarten through 12th grade. The school is a member of the New York Interschool consortium.

Sergei Eisenstein Soviet filmmaker

Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was a Soviet film director and film theorist, a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage. He is noted in particular for his silent films Strike (1925), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1928), as well as the historical epics Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible. In its decennial poll, the magazine Sight & Sound named his Battleship Potemkin the 11th greatest movie of all time.

Relationship to Klaus Mann

In Budapest during the summer of 1937, he met writer Klaus Mann, nine years his senior, a meeting Mann recorded in his diary as "In the evening, picked up the little Curtiss (cute, a little blase and arrogant kid)". [2] Mann later wrote of Curtiss: "The luck and mystery of a first meeting. His hysteria, sadness, intelligence, gentleness, sensuality, his smile, his eyes, moans, lips, expression, voice". In his diaries, Mann refers to him as "Curtiss-darling" and "Curtiss-dear" or by a nickname he invented: "Tomski". [3] [4] Mann's suicidal novel Vergittertes Fenster (Barred Window), loosely based on the life death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and first published in the Netherlands in 1937, is dedicated to Curtiss. Their romantic relationship lasted through the end of the year, but was never untroubled as Mann fought addiction and Curtiss socialized without him. [5] Despite the brevity of their romantic relationship, for years they saw each other or spoke at great intervals, and Curtiss remained "the great love" of Mann's life. [6]

Curtiss was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Mann's sexual behavior as part of their surveillance of German émigrées during World War II. [7]

Federal Bureau of Investigation governmental agency belonging to the United States Department of Justice

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes.


Curtiss enlisted in the New York 7th Regiment before World War II. He was stationed with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe in 1944 and later with the US 8th Air Force, where he secured the Luftwaffe's hidden film library for the Allies. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1968. [8]

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the commander in SHAEF throughout its existence. The position itself shares a common lineage with Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Atlantic, but they are different titles.

<i>Luftwaffe</i> Aerial warfare branch of the German military forces during World War II

The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.

Life in Paris

Curtiss settled in Paris after the war. [8] He dined so regularly at La Tour d'Argent, one of the finest restaurants in Paris, that it added a dish named for him to its menu, "oeufs à la Tom Curtiss", a variation on oeufs à la Chimay . [9]

La Tour dArgent Parisian restaurant

La Tour d'Argent is a historic restaurant in Paris, France. It is located at 15 quai de la Tournelle. It has a rating of one star from the Guide Michelin.

Clara Ward, Princesse de Caraman-Chimay American performer and Belgian princess

Clara Ward was a wealthy American socialite who married a prince from Belgium.

Curtiss became a film and theater critic for many newspapers and magazines, including the New York Herald Tribune , The New York Times , and Variety , before he joined the International Herald Tribune for which he continued to write until long after his retirement.

He also wrote several books, including a biography of Erich von Stroheim, whom he had admired in his youth. The New York Times faulted it as "handicapped by lengthy and often fictitious reported conversations", too ready to believe von Stroheim's version of events, and burdened with trivia. It said that Curtiss "has been devoted, and probably no other account will bring us so close to the proud, wounded, stubborn temper of [von Stroheim]. As a major biography, setting the director against a period, the book has serious shortcomings." [10] He also appeared in the documentary on Stroheim's life, The Man You Loved To Hate. He wrote the script for the 1973 screen adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh .


He died on July 17, 2000, in Poissy, France, at the age of 85. [8]

Select works


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  1. Piket, Vincent (1991). Louis Auchincloss: The Growth of a Novelist. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 15–6. ISBN   9781349213689 . Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  2. Weiss, Andrea (2008). In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story. University of Chicago Press. p. 145. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  3. Spotts, Frederic (2016). Cursed Legacy: The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann. Yale University Press. p. 122. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  4. Culleton, Claire A.; Leick, Karen (2008), Modernism on file: writers, artists, and the FBI, 1920-1950, Macmillan, p. 222, ISBN   0-230-60135-9
  5. Spotts, Frederic (2016). Cursed Legacy: The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann. Yale University Press. pp. 123–4. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  6. Weiss, Andrea (2008). In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story. University of Chicago Press. p. ix. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  7. Stephan, Alexander (2000). "Communazis": FBI Surveillance of German Emigré Writers. Yale University Press. pp. 93, 301. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  8. 1 2 3 "Thomas Curtiss, 85, Critic for Paris Tribune". The New York Times. International Herald Tribune. July 19, 2000. Retrieved July 4, 2017. Because of an editing error, this obituary, which originated with the International Herald Tribune which was jointly own by The New York Times and The Washington Post, was not printed in The New York Times until November 2000.
  9. Krebs, Albin (April 24, 1974). "Notes on People". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  10. Higham, Charles (November 21, 1971). "The man they loved to hate". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  11. Poore, Charles (September 29, 1960). "Books of the Times" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2017.