MOTW: Biography of Jamie Lee Curtis: Talent, Devotion, Success

Photo Credit: Compass International Pictures
October 31st, 2013

MOTW: Biography of Jamie Lee Curtis: Talent, Devotion, Success

Actor, director, author, and natural-health advocate Jamie Lee Curtis was destined to be a star. Her parents held captive the hearts of Americans with their good looks, infectious smiles, and immense talent. The daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh was born November 22, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, equipped with the genes for success. It's not surprising that Curtis is so highly acclaimed in her acting career and her personal life. Her older sister, Kelly Lee, is also an actor.

Curtis's father had long-standing issues with alcohol, and his overindulgence caused problems between his wife and him shortly following Jamie Lee's birth. At that time, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh were each managing full-swing success in their careers. The marriage ended when Jamie Lee was three years old, and Janet wed a stockbroker named Richard Brandt not long after.

Curtis lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles with her mother and stepfather. The child had trouble integrating with her peers. Her parents' fame brought envy from other children. She was plain and had few friends. Her efforts to blend in by dressing and acting like the other children failed.

Janet transferred her daughter from Beverly Hills High School to prominent prep school Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. After graduation in 1976, Curtis enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, but the excitement to begin her acting career took her home to California. No longer the misfit child she had once been, she was blossoming as a young woman and was committed to acting. Her career was soaring by the time she married filmmaker and actor Christopher Guest. Today, they and their two children live in California.

Curtis launched her career with a part in the series "Operation Petticoat" in 1977 but found a niche with her next movie, "Halloween," in 1978. She can't be accused of riding the coattails of either famous parent. Working with director John Carpenter in the tightly budgeted independent horror film didn't seem glamorous, but it must have been exciting. "Halloween" had a $300,000 film budget, so Curtis and crew often pitched in with set creation. She was even asked to supply the clothes she wore in the movie since the wardrobe department was too expensive to use. "Halloween" became a box-office success, and Curtis's career began in earnest.

Her nickname of "Scream Queen" was rightfully earned. The progeny of the woman who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," she inherited the looks, smile, talent, and affinity for horror-genre films. Her next roles were in the same genre and included "The Fog" in 1989, "Terror Train" and "Prom Night" in 1980, and "Halloween II" in 1981.

Not wanting her career to stagnate in one genre, Curtis made a career move to comedy in 1983. "Trading Places" starred Curtis and comedy giants Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. If she was at all intimidated by her experienced costars, she kept her cool and presented like an old pro. Her career hit a new high with "A Fish Called Wanda" in 1989. Earning critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination confirmed she had a diverse skill set. Another comedy opportunity arose in the 1994 film "True Lies," which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a secret spy and Curtis as his wife. She gave one of her best performances, and she scored a second Golden Globe Award.

Her versatility as an actor led her to try many different portrayals in television and movies. In "Death of a centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story" she played the part of Dorothy, who worked as a Playboy model. Curtis depicted her character's struggles as the abused victim of a possessive husband, and the story of her premature death at his hand. She was unafraid to test her acting range, and she seemed in sync with her ever-expanding abilities.

Curtis has been cast with such well-known actors as John Travolta, John Cleese, Kevin Kline, and Richard Lewis. She had no trouble coordinating her style with a broad scope of stars. She and Sigourney Weaver starred the 2010 film "You Again."

The remake of "Freaky Friday" saw Curtis paired with Lindsay Lohan. The classic children's movie enabled Curtis to display her good-natured smile and allure in a new light. Her skyrocketing success resulted from her innate talent combined with her ability to judge which roles would suit her best. She further explored her desire to inspire children by authoring several children's books. After adopting their daughter, Annie, Curtis published "Tell Me Again about the Night I Was Born." Their younger child, Tom, was also adopted. A question he asked his mother inspired her book "Is There Really a Human Race?"

Curtis has always been an advocate of healthy living. She enjoys being represented as natural, meaning without hair dye or makeup. She prefers photographers not edit her image by using tools such as airbrushes or concealers. The still beautiful performer has been a spokesperson for Activia since 2007. She likes to help others enjoy their health.