Jamie Lee Curtis

Active - 1963 - 2022  |   Born - Nov 22, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Horror, Film, TV & Radio, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The daughter of film stars Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis launched her film career as a "scream queen." After a nondescript supporting role on the TV series Operation Petticoat, Curtis rose to cult stardom playing the straight-laced teenage babysitter imperiled by an unknown slasher in Halloween (1978). Upon appearing in the film's sequel and in such spookers as The Fog (1979) and Prom Night (1980), she seemed in danger of being limited to blood-splattered horror films. But Curtis wasn't about to be typed this early in the game: with a meaty secondary role as a prostitute -- featuring several well-publicized nude scenes -- in the big-budget comedy Trading Places (1983), she made the transition from imperiled teen type to knowing adult with nary a hitch.

Curtis didn't exactly have a string of box-office smashes after Trading Places, but she was always worth watching even when the films weren't. And when the good parts did come along, notably her roles in A Fish Called Wanda (1988) and My Girl (1991), she proved she was an actress of range and stature and not just another "movie star's kid." Taking a potentially humiliating role as the unknowing wife of a secret agent in the megabucks Arnold Schwarzenegger adventure True Lies (1994), Curtis delivered a sparkling performance, emerging as the only truly likable character in a loud and misogynistic melodrama. In 1997, she was reunited with the cast of A Fish Called Wanda (Kevin Kline, John Cleese, and Michael Palin) for Fierce Creatures, another comedy farce in the same vein as Wanda. Unfortunately, the film was largely disappointing; but, the following year, Curtis rebounded with a return to familiar territory in Halloween: H2O. The slasher flick, although less than a critical favorite, proved to be popular with audiences. In 1999, Curtis again ventured into the big-budget realm with the action thriller Virus, and had a supporting role in Daddy and Them, Billy Bob Thornton's sophomore writing/directorial effort. She could then be seen in Drowning Mona, a black comedy in which she played a waitress caught up in an affair with the husband of her town's most infamous dead woman.

The 2000s have brought Curtis several interesting opportunities, including a live performance at Paul McCartney's benefit for the controversial animal rights organization PETA in 2000, and a no-holds-barred photo shoot with More magazine in 2002 -- the then 44-year-old actress wanted to emphasize that even high-profile celebrities look "normal" without the help of a team of makeup artists and digital alterations. In 2001, Curtis starred alongside Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush and James Bond front man Pierce Brosnan in the espionage thriller The Tailor of Panama, and returned for a cameo appearance in Halloween: Resurrection, which supposedly marked her final role in the Halloween franchise. Curtis would return to more family-oriented pictures in 2003's spirited Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan, which featured the forty-something actress playing a punky teen whose spirit had magically been transferred to her mother's body; the success of that film led to the curdled comedy of the critically drubbed Christmas With the Kranks. She acted in Beverly Hills Chihuahua and You Again, but became better known in later years as a spokeswoman for Activia yogurt.

Married to actor Christopher Guest since 1984, Curtis became a Baroness, Lady Haden-Guest, when her husband inherited the Barony in 1996.

Movie Highlights

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  • Dubbed "The Scream Queen" for starring in a string of horror movies, including Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Prom Night (1980), Terror Train (1980) and Halloween II (1981).
  • Spotted future husband Christopher Guest in an issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Curtis was instantly attracted to the photo and gave her number to his agent. 
  • Auditioned for the titular role of Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles on the New York stage and lost the part to Joan Allen, though she ultimately played the role in the TV movie made six years later.
  • Has published a number of children's books, beginning in 1993 with When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoirs of Her Youth. Other titles include My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story (2010). 
  • Elevated to the status of Baroness Haden-Guest of Saling in the County of Essex (or the less formal Lady Haden-Guest) in 1996, upon the death of her husband's father and his inheritance of the barony.
  • Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in September of 1998.