Curtis didn’t let that define her, taking on all types of roles across movie genres and proving she could do anything. Moreover, Jamie’s life has been nearly as interesting as her movies. Read on to find out why.
Born to Be on Screen
Jamie Lee Curtis was born in 1958 in beautiful Santa Monica, California. It wouldn’t have been crazy for everybody to assume that little Jamie would have a future in movies. After all, it made sense since she was not only a gorgeous-looking baby, but she also grew up in Los Angeles, attended Beverly Hills High School, and had parents that had been incredibly famous actors too.
Jamie grew up surrounded by her parents’ famous friends and children, getting into the Hollywood crowd from a very early age.
A Family That Loved Horror Films
Much like Jamie, who made her acting debut in a horror film, as did her mother, the famous actress Janet Leigh. Leigh was a huge Hollywood star back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, with one of her most memorable ones being one of the female shower victims in Hitchcock’s famous horror classic, Psycho.
The 1960s film earned Leigh a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for her infamous screaming shower scene.
Her Dad Was Famous Too
Jamie’s mother wasn’t the only famous celebrity in the family. Her dad, Tony Curtis, was a Hollywood star too, starring in more than 100 films back in the 50s. Tony was a versatile actor, much like his daughter, and he could be brilliant at any role imaginable – comedies, dramas, romances – you name it.
One of his most famous roles was in 1959 when he played Shell Oil Junior alongside Marilyn Monroe in the famous film Some Like It Hot. It is often regarded as the funniest American movie ever made.
High Hopes for Jamie’s Sister
Although it was Jamie who went on to become a huge film star, everybody thought it would be her sister Kelly that would reach Hollywood heights. Kelly was Jamie’s older sister and had been in films acting alongside her parents when she was just a young child.
Kelly did love acting and enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, becoming a professional actress. She’s gotten work as an actress and has a solid career, although she never reached the heights of her sister.
A Very Hard Divorce
Unfortunately, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis decided to get a divorce in 1962, after 11 years of marriage, and the press was brutal. The separation and the divorce were made even more difficult by becoming very publicized. Jamie and her sister Kelly got the brunt of it.
The girls went to live with their mother, Janet, since, as Jamie has often said, her father was very absent after the divorce. “I don’t think he was interested in being a father,” the actress has often remarked in interviews.
Jamie Has Several Half Siblings
Considering that Tony Curtis went on to get married another six times, it’s not so shocking to learn Jamie Lee has many half-sisters and brothers.
In total, Jamie Lee has one full sibling, Kelly, and four half-siblings, Alexandra, Allegra, Benjamin, and Nicholas. Although we’re sure there must have been difficult times along the way; the siblings get along pretty well nowadays. Their houses must be packed in the holidays!
Leaving Them with Nothing
When Tony Curtis passed away in 2010, his children mourned him deeply. However, the feeling of utter sadness must have warped into something far more confusing and angrier when they found out that their father had left them nothing.
Without ever telling a soul, Tony Curtis left his entire family out of his will and decided instead to auction off his possessions to the highest bidder. Neither his six children nor his six wives got a penny.
A Future Full of Doubt
Jamie and her sister Kelly had a pretty good childhood before their parents’ divorce. The girls attended the same high school in Beverly Hills and then in Connecticut. Although Kelly took a different path, Jamie followed in her mother’s footsteps and enrolled at the University of the Pacific.
But unlike her mother, Jamie didn’t have her sights set on acting back then. She wanted to study law, which she did for one semester before deciding to drop out and focus on acting.
Not a Great Student
One of the reasons Jamie decided to drop out of her law degree was because of her grades, never going above a D+. She admitted to being “a terrible student” and spending too much partying. “I probably had some learning thing that I didn’t know about,” Jamie has said in interviews.
However, that didn’t matter much since she was on her way to becoming one of the world’s biggest stars.
Jamie Turns Her Life Around
Jamie decided it was time to call it quits at the university and go back to her hometown, Los Angeles, and try her luck. Being surrounded by actors all of her life, she decided to try her hand at the industry.
At this point, the fact that she had no more than one semester of academic education wasn’t exactly an advantage. Jamie had to rely on her skills, character, and wits if she wanted to make it in the acting world.
The First Audition
One of the first things Jamie did when returning to Los Angeles was to employ an agent to get her acting gigs. After some time, her agent got her an audition for the role of Nancy Drew in a new TV show that was about to debut.
She went to the audition, and it was a wake-up call that made her realize that making it in the acting world was far more difficult than she had ever imagined.
Jamie Got Fired from Her First Acting Job
Not surprisingly, Jamie didn’t get the part in the Nancy Drew TV show, but she didn’t give up. Jamie told her agent to keep looking, and suddenly, a big opportunity came knocking on her door. As it turns out, Universal Studios wanted to sign her for a 7-year acting contract. She was over the moon.
Unfortunately, shortly after, Jamie was fired. In a later interview, the actress remembers the day, “I got fired along with 12 other actors. I was devastated. I thought it was the end of my life.”
Then Came Her Big Break
Getting fired destroyed Jamie’s confidence; after all, she had been auditioning for a long time and got only rejections. The only good thing about getting fired was that she was free to keep looking for opportunities again.
And so it happened that one day, an unknown, independent filmmaker called John Carpenter knocked on her door, offering her a role in his new horror movie, 'Halloween'. Jamie decided to accept without many expectations and without realizing this would become the biggest role of her entire career.
Halloween is a Box-Office Hit
It may be a trivial line, but in Jamie’s case, it’s absolutely true: Some things happen for a reason. If Universal Studios had not fired her, the young actress couldn’t have accepted the role of Laurie Strode, which pretty much shot her to stardom.
Not only was 'Halloween' a huge commercial success, but the film quickly became a cult horror classic. Jamie Lee Curtis was fantastic in the role of Laurie, and the low-budget film exceeded everybody’s expectations.
Despite the Film’s Success, Her Salary Wasn’t Much
Halloween was a perfect example of a box-office hit. With a low budget of $325,000, the horror movie went on to make a whopping $70 million in theaters around the world.
Of course, everybody involved in the film was over the moon with joy when seeing the numbers. But unfortunately, as Hollywood bureaucracy goes, and after paying all the cast, crew, producers, and actors, Jamie only got paid $8,000 for her lead role.
A New ‘Scream Queen’ Has Arrived
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Jamie Lee Curtis earned her title as Hollywood’s new “Scream Queen.” From now on, the actress’s name will be forever linked with horror films.
'Halloween' was only the start of what would be an amazing acting career, and although it did remain her biggest role, especially with all the sequels, Jamie would go on to act in many other box-office hits. The actress could carry a comedy or a drama just as brilliantly as she could do horror.
Bring On the Horror Films
After playing the very convincing Laurie on Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis was cast in the lead role in the horror film, 'The Fog.' Also directed by John Carpenter, the film cast Jamie’s mother as well. Janet Leigh was to act alongside her daughter for the very first time.
Although 'The Fog' was a huge commercial success, many movie critics weren’t so pleased with it. It was a mixed bag of reviews, but the general audience seemed to love it. The 1980s film had a budget of $1 million and went on to make more than $21 million in theaters.
More Horror Films
After 'The Fog', Jamie Lee Curtis just kept getting star roles in horror films. Her next endeavor was playing the title role in Paul Lynch’s slasher film 'Prom Night.' The Canadian, low-budget movie had many similarities to 'Halloween.'
After 'Prom Night,' Jamie was immediately cast in another horror-slasher film called Terror Train. Both movies did well in theaters, considering their budget was quite low, but the film critics destroyed them.
Jamie Wants to Branch Out
While she was thrilled to be getting constant roles, Jamie didn’t want her entire career to be limited to the Horror genre. She was well aware of how easy it was to associate an actor with a genre and leave them there forever, as she’d seen with her parents.
In an interview years later, the actress stated, “I felt honored that 'Halloween' was and will be the greatest part of my creative life. But I also grew up in show-off business, and I recognized very early that a pigeonholing association with one genre only would be limiting.”
Maybe One More Horror Movie
Just as Jamie was considering leaving the horror genre for good, she was approached to star in the Halloween sequel, Halloween II. The film came out in 1981, and fans rushed to the theaters to see if the sequel could live up to the original.
Again, the film did very well in terms of gross profits, and Jamie Lee Curtis did a fantastic job once more as Laurie Strode. However, critics gave the film some bad reviews, claiming it didn’t come close enough to the storytelling quality of the first film.
The ‘Scream Queen’ Hates Horror Films
Ironically, Jamie Lee Curtis hates horror films in real life. She really doesn’t like the feeling of going to the cinema being terrified.
The actress came clean in an interview once, saying, “I do not like horror movies. I do not say this for a joke; although it gets a laugh, I really don’t. There’s nothing I like about being scared.” Now that’s quite a funny and interesting twist.
From Horror to Comedy
Finally, after years of only being cast in slasher films, Jamie Lee Curtis got an opportunity to star in a comedy film. In 1983, she acted along with Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy in 'Trading Places.'
The film was absolutely hilarious, and Jamie proved herself as a jack of all trades, playing the exceptional role of Ophelia. The movie was a hit both at the box office and with critics and audiences alike.
Her First Big Award
Her role in 'Trading Places' didn’t just give Jamie Lee Curtis a proper acting reputation, seeing as she could play comedy as well as she could horror. The film also earned her a BAFTA Award, which is a huge honor.
The British Film and Television Award, which is like a British version of the Oscars, was awarded to Jamie for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film received several nominations also, with John Landis as its director.
Not Just a Horror Queen Anymore
Once associated with slasher films, Jamie Lee Curtis was suddenly noticed for her appearance. Indeed, the actress was stunning, but she was also incredibly talented, and she started to resent people for not seeing that.
In what was probably one of the worst movies she’s been in, Jamie Lee Curtis starred in the 1985 James Bridges’ film, 'Perfect. 'She played a fitness instructor and the love interest of John Travolta. In an interview at the time, she said she really disliked the fact that her physical and sensual presence was the only thing people responded to.
A Nerd at Heart
Another interesting fact about Jamie Lee Curtis that few people knew about was that she’s a huge geek deep down. In an interview, the actress once said, “I walk around in Tretorn sneakers and baggy safari shorts and odd assorted T-shirts from my husband’s T-shirt collection”
The actress has said that she only puts on womanly stuff when she goes to work. Apparently, the rest of the time, you’d be hard-pressed to see her wearing makeup or high heels.
Starring in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’
Although she might have been ticked off by people concerning themselves so much with her looks, they certainly landed her some impressive acting roles. During the decades of the 80s and 90s, Jamie Lee Curtis was getting job offers left and right.
In what was probably one of the best movies of her career, she starred in 1988’s brilliant film, 'A Fish Called Wanda.' The movie earned the actress two award nominations – one for a BAFTA and another for a Golden Globe.
Branching Out to Television
The Hollywood star decided to try her hand at the TV as well, wanting to branch out and experience something new. Jamie got cast in the American sitcom 'Anything But Love,' in her first debut on the small screen.
The light comedy show featured her and comedian Richard Lewis trying to hide their romantic feelings for each other. On her first try in the world of TV, Curtis won a People’s Choice Award and a Golden Globe.
Playing a Cop
After TV, Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the big screen in Katheryn Bigelow’s 1989 thriller 'Blue Steel .' In it, Curtis plays NYPD officer Megan, who is wrongly accused of a crime.
The film was a hit, critics and audiences loved it, and Curtis added another notch to her professional belt by proving that she was also brilliant at playing action hero roles in mainstream movies. The actress was on her way to superstardom.
Her First Drama
In 1991, 'My Girl,' one of cinema’s most beloved coming-of-age drama films, came out. With Anna Chlumsky playing Vera, Macaulay Culkin playing her best friend, and Dan Akroyd playing the kind dad, Jamie Lee Curtis landed the role of Shelly, Dan Akroyd’s girlfriend.
The film was a hit, making over $121 million in profits on a budget of $17 million. It was such a success that they immediately planned a sequel, which came out three years later. Curtis was the main character in that one as well.
Filming ‘True Lies’
The year 1994 was an exciting one for Curtis. After wrapping up the filming of 'My Girl,' she got to star in the James Cameron spy thriller 'True Lies .' The incredibly entertaining blockbuster featured Curtis as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife, and they turned out to be hiding a lot from each other.
It was the first husband-and-wife spy film of its kind, and it was a hit. Curtis said it was the best time she ever had on set, becoming lifelong friends with Schwarzenegger.
The Dancing Scenes
Curtis has said that one of the most challenging things about filming 'True Lies' was the dancing scenes. While Schwarzenegger loved doing his own stunts, she was terrified about having to learn the tango and found it really hard.
The actress even fell during rehearsal once, and James Cameron decided to include it in the script! Curtis added another Golden Globe to her collection for her performance in the film.
Behind the Scenes
Her professional life was going amazingly, but how were things behind the scenes? Well, in real life, Jamie Lee Curtis couldn’t have been happier, either. She married actor Christopher Guest in 1984, and they’ve been together ever since.
The story is quite romantic, if not a bit strange since it turns out Curtis predicted her marriage just a mere five months before it happened. “I said to my friend Debra Hill after seeing Christopher in a magazine that I was going to marry him.” Apart from acting talents, Curtis can apparently see the future too!
A Growing Family
The married couple decided they wanted their family to grow, and so they adopted their first child, a gorgeous girl they named Annie.
Annie flourished with her new parents and went on to become an actress herself. Although she likes her craft, she doesn’t seem concerned with being the center of attention. She’s definitely got her mother’s impressive acting skills. Annie Guest has worked in several small roles and prefers to keep her personal life private.
A Dancer in the Family
Another talent that Jamie Lee Curtis’s daughter has is dancing. Annie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Kenyon College and loves performing on stage. She has gone on to become a dancing teacher as well, coaching young dancers in jazz, modern, hip-hop, ballet, and lyrical.
Like her mother, Annie is a jack of all trades when it comes to her artistic career. She also co-directs a dancing group that has won several prestigious awards.
We all know that Hollywood celebrities know each other, whether from working on the same film or meeting at an Awards party. But here’s a fun little tidbit that you probably didn’t know about two Hollywood celebrities. Jamie Lee Curtis is actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s godmother!
The two have an amazing relationship and are very close. According to rumors, her godson Jake was the one who convinced her to do the newest installment of the 'Halloween' movies.
Not long after Curtis and her husband adopted Annie, they decided to add a sibling to the equation and adopt a boy, whom they named Thomas. Jamie and her son Thomas used to be huge fans of online video games.
Years later, Jamie revealed that her son Thomas was transgender and had become her daughter Ruby. She witnessed her child go through the transition and said that she couldn't be a prouder mom than she already was.
Owning Up to Her Mistakes
Everything was going great for Jamie Lee Curtis, both personally and professionally. Until one day, she realized she had a major problem that she could no longer ignore. In 1999, the actress read an article about addiction to painkillers, and she suddenly realized she had a problem.
Curtis had become addicted, so she decided to tackle the issue head-on, come clean to her husband, and go straight to rehab. Her husband was shocked that he didn’t realize sooner and vowed his unconditional love and support.
The Road to Recovery
Jamie Lee Curtis went straight to rehab and then to recovery meetings. It was a long and hard road ahead, but she did it, and to this day still counts it as her biggest achievement. She was determined not to be another member of her celebrity family that had struggled with substances and lost.
In an interview years later, the actress said, "Getting sober remains my single greatest accomplishment. [It’s] bigger than my husband, bigger than both of my children, and bigger than any work, success, failure – anything.”
Back to Work
The moment Curtis was done with rehab, she went straight back to acting, feeling better than ever. And the studios were ready for her, offering a project dear to her heart: the starring role in a 2002 'Halloween sequel – 'Halloween: Resurrection.'
Critics didn’t love the film, but the audiences did, and the profits proved it. With a budget of $15 million, the film did more than double that amount in theaters. Most importantly, Curtis proved to herself and the world that she was back and ready for anything!
The Success of ‘Freaky Friday’
Curtis went back to comedy in 2003 when she starred alongside Lindsay Lohan in the hit film, Freaky Friday. The plot is about a mother and daughter that switch bodies after eating special fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant.
The film is funny, wildly entertaining, and did great at the box office. Critics and audiences loved it, and Curtis was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Tess Coleman in the film.
The Dawn of a New Era
The decade of the 2000s was a good time for Curtis, both in her personal life and career-wise. She continued to act in light comedies that had great success in theaters, such as 'Christmas with the Kranks,' 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua,' 'The Kid & I, 'You Again,' and others.
It didn’t matter that the movies didn’t have the same popularity as her first horror movies, Curtis enjoyed making them, and she was going through a crucial time of personal growth.
Curtis’s Other Projects
Besides being an incredibly talented actress, Jamie Lee Curtis is also an author – a children’s author! Curtis has actually published more than 13 children’s books throughout her life, and they’re beautiful.
The books have amassed quite the following, becoming very popular with audiences worldwide. It turns out that Curtis is a great writer, and she has been recognized by some of the world’s biggest publishing houses, such as HarperCollins.
A Great Writer in General
Children’s books aren’t Curtis’s only specialty since, as it turns out, she’s a great writer in general as well. Curtis has a blog in the Huffington Post that she writes for regularly and has a website of her own where she’s constantly posting her writings.
The actress has said many times on her website that apart from acting and writing, she loves photography and organizing closets. And we’re sure she’s great at those too.
Curtis Loves Inventions
Apparently, there isn’t a single thing this woman can’t do, and that includes being an inventor. A while back, Curtis came up with an idea that she later patented as her own invention, and it was a hit!
The project consisted of creating a diaper that had a built-in pocket on one of the sides where moms could place baby wipes and have them readily available. Curtis got a lot of offers from different companies to produce the item, but she refused, stating she wanted to ensure the wipes were biodegradable first.
An Important Part of the Horror Cycle
Much to Curtis’s surprise, she was approached in 2018 to play Laurie Strode once more. Director David Gordon Greene was making a 'Halloween' sequel, and luckily, Curtis said yes.
The actress found herself playing Laurie again 40 years later, and the film ended up becoming one of the best sequels to date. The sequel, also called 'Halloween, 'was a big commercial success, making over $250 million at the box office. Critics gave it good reviews as well.
Curtis Also Did Some Screenwriting
Another little-known fact about Jamie Lee Curtis is that she tried her hand at screenwriting too. She tried to write her own horror film, which she would produce using her own production company. The film was called 'The Myth.'
The plot was about a combination of natural disasters that run into a horror story that decimates the entire world. Sadly, the script never made it far, and studios weren’t too interested, so it was never made.
A Committed Activist
Aside from all her personal and professional achievements, Jamie Lee Curtis is also a passionate activist, fighting for causes dear to her heart. She’s involved in women’s charities and movements, children’s hospitals, and many more.
A big project she was part of included a play she starred in, called ‘8’, in which she and other A-list celebrities re-enacted a trial that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage. The play got rave reviews.
A Dedicated Supporter of Children
Not only does Curtis write books for children, but she’s also a board member at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. The actress has been spotted visiting the hospital quite frequently in an attempt to cheer kids up as they struggle with their health.
Curtis was responsible for the opening of a new inpatient facility at the hospital, a cause she took on when she realized there wasn’t enough space to take in more kids.
Fighting for Women
Another cause Curtis is passionate about is fighting for women’s rights. She spends a great deal of time getting to know women in dire situations personally and offering them help in any way she can. She doesn’t just limit herself to protests and marches; she actually gets personally involved.
In 2003, Curtis attended the 11th annual gala and fundraiser for the Women in Recovery organization. She was named the guest of honor.
The Best Is Yet to Come
Jamie Lee Curtis has starred in two more 'Halloween sequels since 2018. 'Halloween' Kills in 2021, and the epic final movie to end the saga, 'Halloween Ends,' in 2022. She was phenomenal in both movies, and even though it’s sad to see such an epic horror saga end, it was amazing to see Curtis and the story come full circle.
The actress is feeling great about things to come, stating that she “…is a constant editor. I shed people, I shed clothing, I shed possessions, I shed ideas. The biggest thing I’ve shed is my own limitations and perception of who I am...". We can’t wait to see where life takes her next!