The year was 1960. The actress, Janet Leigh, starring
in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho", acted out
the first slasher scene ever to hit the screen. As moviegoers
watched, Marion Crane screamed and bled her way to her death
in a motel shower. The scene, and the movie, made motion
picture history, and opened the door for a whole new genre
of horror films. Jamie Lee Curtis was barely two years old
and although mother Janet Leigh did not realize it at the
time, the door her role in Psycho opened, had opened
a door her young daughter would eventually slip through.
Young Jamie would eventually scream louder than her mother
ever did, and still make it through to the end of the picture
(in slasher films at least). Her mother's character Marion
Crane did not survive her "scream scene", her
daughter's characters generally would. Jamie Lee Curtis
survived not only the chases of mad men wielding sharp knives
during her stint as the "Scream Queen", she survived
the label to become a respected, and versatile actor in
the ever changing world of Hollywood.
Jamie Lee Curtis was born on November 22, 1958 in Los
Angeles to actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. The couple
divorced when Jamie was just three years old and her mother
remarried that same year to stock broker, Robert Brandt,
and the family, including Jamie's sister Kelly moved to
a quieter and more mainstream life in a Los Angeles suburb.
Although the move allowed Jamie to live a somewhat more
"normal" life than in her previous years, she
still grew up feeling she didn't fit in with other children
and teenagers her age.
This uneasy feeling of not being able to fit in coloured
her high-school years, when she dropped out of the Beverly
Hills high school she was attending and entered a Connecticut
prep school. It was around this time that Jamie first got
the acting bug. But the bug would have to wait. Mother Janet
Leigh may have been a glamorous, successful actress herself,
but flighty and ignorant to the ways of the real word she
was not. Jamie was expected to attend college before she
even considered pursuing and acting career.
Jamie tried to appease her mother, but dropped out after
only one semester at the University of the Pacific. She
auditioned for a part in The Nancy Drew Mysteries
unsuccessfully. She did manage to land some guest appearances
on the television series' The Love Boat, Marcus
Welby M.D., and Quincy. Eventually in 1977 she
secured a recurring role in the series Operation Petticoat.
Within the next year, everything took off for Jamie. The
"Scream Queen" was about to be born. She was cast
in the B movie Halloween.
She was paid a whopping $8,000 for her appearance. But she
must have realized the catapult this role would be for her
career and demanded her listing in the credits be "Introducing
Jamie Lee Curtis." Halloween became the most
successful independent movie production up to that time,
grossing $45 million at the box office.
Several roles in horror films followed, including a sequel
to the now infamous Halloween. Once her position
in Hollywood as the "Scream Queen" was secured,
she began to spread her wings and fly and prove she had
talents that exceeded just using her vocal chords to terrify
moviegoers, and legs to run from murderous brothers. She
starred in the made-for-tv movie Death Of A Centerfold,
the true story of Playboy Bunny, Dorothy Stratton. From
there she played a happy-go-lucky hooker beside Eddie Murphy
and Dan Akroyd in Trading
Places, and a privacy seeking aerobics instructor
with John Travolta in Perfect, a movie that was a
box-office and critical flop.
Although the early 80's saw her career take an exciting
turn for the better, her personal life was less than idealic.
Her biological father had been pretty much a stranger up
until that point, but they formed a relationship now. Jamie
had begun experimenting with cocaine, and the mutual habit
brought them together, although she eventually kicked the
habit, and even helped her father kick his. Once the drug
habit was behind her, things started to fall into place
in Jamie's personal life as well. In 1983 she met Christopher
Guest, whom she eventually married a little over a year
later. Jamie describes her hubby as her "kindred spirit."
During this period Jamie also found time to take on some
made-for-TV roles, Annie Oakley, She's In The
Army Now, and later, The Heidi Chronicles, but
her primary medium remained the silver screen.
Jamie spread her wings and flew even further dramatically
when, in 1988, she starred opposite John Cleese and Kevin
Kline as a hilarious fortune-seeking nymphomaniac in A
Fish Called Wanda. In 1994 she solidified her position
as a unique actress able to combine comedic and dramatic
roles as the bland housewife turned wild woman in True
Lies, co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Despite her huge successes, Jamie remains an earthy, thoughtful,
and charitable woman. She is currently chairperson of The
Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park in tandem with her father's
founding of The Emanuel Foundation, an organization dedicated
to aiding families of holocoust victims in reclaiming assets
and property that was lost during World War 2.
Today Jamie makes her homes in Los Angeles, and Sun Valley,
Idaho with her husband Christopher Guest and their two adopted
children, Annie and Thomas. In addition to her acting career
she has successfully established herself as an author of
children's books and is venturing into yet a third career
as a photographer. She remains close to her mother, Janet
Leigh and remains reconciled with father Tony Curtis as