That’s right, this month the amazing Jamie Lee Curtis is my icon of the month.
Jamie Lee Curtis was born in Santa Monica, California on November 22, 1958 to actor Tony Curtis and actress Janet Leigh. Her paternal grandparents were Hungarian Jewish immigrants and two of her maternal great-grandparents were Danish. Curtis’s parents divorced in 1962, after which her mother married Robert Brandt. Curtis has an older sister, Kelly Curtis, who is also an actress, and several half-siblings (all from her father’s remarriages), Alexandra, Allegra, Benjamin, and Nicholas Curtis (who died in 1994 of a drug overdose).
Curtis attended all-girls Westlake School (now Harvard-Westlake School) in Los Angeles where she was a cheerleader and Beverly Hills High School, and graduated from the prestigious Choate Rosemary Hall. Returning to California in 1976, she attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. She considered majoring in social work, but quit after one semester to pursue an acting career.
Curtis initially landed spots on such shows as “Quincy M.E.” and “Columbo”. She even earned a role on the short-lived military comedy “Operation Petticoat”, which was based on a 1959 film that starred her father.
Curtis’s film debut occurred in the 1978 horror film “Halloween”, in which she played the role of ‘Laurie Strode’. The film was a major success and was considered the highest grossing independent film of its time, earning accolades as a classic horror film. Curtis was subsequently cast in several horror films, garnering her the title, “scream queen”.
Her next film was the horror film “The Fog”, which was helmed by “Halloween” director John Carpenter. The film opened in February 1980 to mixed reviews but strong box office, starting Curtis as a horror film starlet. Her next film, “Prom Night”, was a low-budget Canadian slasher film released in July 1980.
The film, for which she earned a Genie Award nomination for Best Performance by a Foreign Actress, was similar in style to “Halloween”, yet received negative reviews which marked it as a disposable entry in the then-popular “slasher film” genre. That year, Curtis also starred in “Terror Train”, which opened in October and was met with negative reviews akin to “Prom Night”. Both films performed moderately well at the box office.
Curtis had a similar function in both films – the main character whose friends are murdered, and is practically the only protagonist to survive. Film critic Roger Ebert, who had given negative reviews to all three of Curtis’s 1980 films, said that Curtis “is to the current horror film glut what Christopher Lee was to the last one-or Boris Karloff was in the 1930s”.
Curtis later appeared in “Halloween II”, as well as giving an uncredited voice role in “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”. On the small screen, Curtis showed her dramatic talents in “Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story” (1981). She played the title character, a Playboy model, who died at the hands of her abusive and controlling husband.
Her role in 1983’s “Trading Places” with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy helped Curtis shed her horror queen image, her portrayal of a soft-hearted hooker helped take her career to a new level and garnered her a BAFTA award as best supporting actress.
Curtis landed a number of leading film roles, with decidedly mixed results. She earned positive reviews for “Love Letters” (1983) and “Grandview, U.S.A.” (1984). “Perfect” (1985), however, proved to be anything but perfection. Starring opposite John Travolta, Curtis played an aerobics instructor in this box-office dud.
Curtis enjoyed another wave of success in the late 1980s, starting with the acclaimed 1988 comedy “A Fish Called Wanda” which achieved near cult status – while showcasing her as a comedic actress; she was nominated for a BAFTA as best leading actress. She headlined the sitcom “Anything But Love” with comedian Richard Lewis which ran for four seasons from 1989 to 1992.
Her performance as ‘Hannah Miller’ received both a Golden Globe and People’s Choice Award. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work in TNT’s adaptation of the Wendy Wasserstein play The Heidi Chronicles.
Curtis then showed another side of her acting abilities by taking on the action-adventure genre in “True Lies” (1994). She portrayed a suburban housewife unaware that her husband (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a spy, a performance that garnered her a second Golden Globe victory.
Curtis starred in the CBS television movie “Nicholas’ Gift”, for which she received an Emmy nomination. Curtis also appeared in the science fiction series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and an early episode of The Drew Carey Show. Jamie Lee Curtis was a game-show panelist on several episodes of Match Game.
Curtis returned to her horror roots by starring in the sequels: “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” (1998) and “Halloween: Resurrection” (2002). Though she gave memorable supporting performances in 2000’s “Drowning Mona” and 2001’s “Tailor of Panama”.
Her next significant box-office success came with a younger crowd when she starred alongside Lindsay Lohan in the 2003 remake of “Freaky Friday”. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for this film.
Curtis’s screen appearances dwindled after “Christmas With The Kranks” (2004), and she primarily became known as the spokesperson for Activia yoghurt for several years. In October 2006, Curtis told Access Hollywood that she had closed the book on her acting career to focus on her family.
She returned to acting after being cast in June 2007 in Disney’s live-action-animated film, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, co-starring opposite Piper Perabo as one of three live-action characters in the film. She also starred in the 2010 comedy film “You Again”, opposite Kristen Bell and Sigourney Weaver.
In 2012, she appeared in 5 episodes of the television series “NCIS”, playing the role of ‘Dr. Samantha Ryan’, a potential romantic interest of ‘Special Agent Gibbs’. It has been hinted that her role may be a recurring one. During an interview, she openly said that if they could develop a storyline, she would be more than happy to be on the show more.
Fittingly, she made a full-time return to TV in 2015 with “Scream Queens”, playing the dean of a university terrorized by a serial killer. That year, Curtis also starred in “Spare Parts”, a drama based on the real-life story of four high school students who enter a robotics competition.
Curtis is one of the few celebrity writers to win over both critics and readers. She has enjoyed tremendous success as a children’s book author. Her first children’s work, “When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth”, was published in 1993.
Much of her inspiration has come from her two children with actor-filmmaker Christopher Guest. The adoption of their oldest child, Annie, led to her second book, “Tell Me Again About The Night I was Born “(1996). Their son, Tom, also adopted, posed the question that led to “Is There Really a Human Race?” (2006).
In 1987, Curtis filed a US patent application that subsequently issued as Patent No. 4,753,647. This is a modification of a diaper with a moisture proof pocket containing wipes that can be taken out and used with one hand. Curtis refused to allow her invention to be marketed until companies started selling biodegradable diapers, although the full statutory term of this patent expired February 20, 2007, and is now in the public domain.
In March 2012, Curtis was featured with Martin Sheen and Brad Pitt in a performance of Dustin Lance Black’s play “8” a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage – as ‘Sandy Stier’. The production was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting; in the video, Curtis and others told the stories of the people killed there.
Curtis is a staunch supporter of children’s hospitals and their advocacy efforts. Currently, she plays a leadership role for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and supported the 2011 opening of a new inpatient facility for the organization. During California’s 2008 general election, Curtis appeared in the “YES on Prop 3” TV advertisements.
Curtis was guest of honour at the 11th annual gala and fundraiser in 2003 for Women in Recovery, a Venice, California-based non-profit organization offering a live-in, twelve-step program of rehabilitation for women in need. Past honorees of this organization include Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Angela Lansbury. Curtis is also involved in the work of the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, serving as the annual host for the organization’s “Dream Halloween” event in Los Angeles, launched every year in October.
Curtis married actor Christopher Guest on December 18, 1984, becoming the Lady Haden-Guest when her husband inherited the Barony of Haden-Guest in 1996, upon the death of his father. She originally fell in love when she saw a picture of him from the movie “This Is Spinal Tap” in Rolling Stone saying to her friend Debra Hill “Oh, I’m going to marry that guy”, actually marrying him five months later. The couple have two adopted children. Curtis is actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s godmother.
She is close friends with actress Sigourney Weaver. In a 2015 interview, she admitted that she has never watched Weaver’s film, “Alien”, in its entirety because she was too scared. On her website, Curtis tells her young readers that she “moonlights as an actor, photographer, and closet organizer.” She takes time to support various philanthropic groups. Curtis appeared on the cover of the May/June 2008 issue of AARP Magazine, with gray hair and in water up to her chest.
Curtis is a recovering alcoholic, and was once addicted to painkillers that she began using after a routine cosmetic surgical procedure. She became sober in 1999 and maintains that recovery is the greatest achievement of her life. Curtis is a blogger for The Huffington Post online newspaper.
She is a fan of “World of Warcraft”, and has attended ComicCon and BlizzCon incognito. She once helped her son Thomas create a cosplay of blood elf character Kael’thas Sunstrider, which he entered into a BlizzCon costume contest. Together they also got the chance to attend the premiere of the “Warcraft” film on June 6, 2016, at The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
During the 1980s, she was engaged to Hollywood production designer J. Michael Riva, the grandson of screen legend Marlene Dietrich. Her godfather was MCA-Universal CEO Lew Wasserman. She once said that Dan Aykroyd was the best on-screen kisser she ever worked with. John Cleese found it amusing that her father, Tony Curtis’s real name was Bernard Schwartz. To tease her about this, during the production of A Fish Called Wanda (1988), he had the call sheets refer to her as “Jamie Lee Schwartz.”. She also has her legs insured for $2 million.
It was on her suggestion that Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) was made. She was asked to cameo in the sequel Scream 3 (2000), but declined. She stated in an interview on Good Entertainment, with Michael Medved (2001) that, ironically, horror films terrify her and she prefers not to watch them. She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6600 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on September 3, 1998.
“I’m Laurie Strode’s guardian angel.” – Jamie Lee Curtis