Nationality: American. Born: Los Angeles, California, 22 November 1958; daughter of the actor Tony Curtis and the actress Janet Leigh; sister of the actress Kelly Curtis. Education: Studied at Choate School, Connecticut; University of the Pacific, California. Family: Married the actor/director Christopher Guest, 1984, daughter: Annie, son: Thomas Haden. Career: Began her career by acting on TV, with credits including the TV movie and TV series Operation Petticoat , 1970s; made her film debut in Halloween , 1978; starred on the TV situation comedy Anything but Love , 1989–92. Awards: Best Supporting Actress British Academy Award, for Trading Places , 1983; Cognac Festival du Film Policie Special Mention (for her Acting Performance), for Blue Steel, 1990; Best Performance by an Actress on a TV Series-Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, for Anything But Love, 1990; Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) American Comedy Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, for True Lies, 1994. Address: 10573 West Pico Boulevard #242, Los Angeles, CA 90064–2348, U.S.A.
Columbo: The Bye-Bye Sky-High I.Q. Murder Case (Wanamaker—for TV) (as Waitress); Operation Petticoat ( Life in the Pink ) (Astin—for TV) (as Lieutenant Barbara Duran)
Halloween (Carpenter) (as Laurie Strode)
The Fog (Carpenter) (as Elizabeth Solley); Prom Night (Lynch) (as Kim); Terror Train (Spottiswoode) (as Alana)
Road Games (Franklin) (as Pamela Rushworth); Halloween II (Carpenter) (as Laurie Strode); Escape from New York (Carpenter) (as opening narrator/voice of computer); Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (Beaumont—for TV) (title role); She's in the Army Now (Averback—for TV) (as Rita Jennings)
Money on the Side (Collins—for TV) (as Michelle Jamison)
Trading Places (Landis) (as Ophelia); Love Letters ( My Love Letters ) (Amy Jones) (as Anna Winter)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension (Richter) (as Dr. Sandra Banzai); Grandview, U.S.A. (Kleiser) (as Michelle "Mike" Cody)
Perfect (Bridges) (as Jessica Wilson); 8 Million Ways to Die (Ashby); Annie Oakley ( Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends: Annie Oakley ) (Lindsay-Hogg—for TV)
As Summer Dies (Tramont—for TV) (as Whitsey Loftin)
Amazing Grace and Chuck ( Silent Voice ) (Newell) (as Lynn Taylor); A Man in Love ( Un Homme amoureux ) (Kurys) (as Susan Elliot)
Dominick and Eugene (Robert M. Young) (as Jennifer Reston); A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton) (as Wanda Gershwitz)
Blue Steel (Bigelow) (as Megan Turner)
Queens Logic (Rash) (as Grace); My Girl (Zieff) (as Shelly DeVoto)
Forever Young (Miner) (as Claire)
My Girl 2 (Zieff) (as Shelly Sultenfuss); Mother's Boys (Simoneau) (as Jude); True Lies (Cameron) (as Helen Tasker)
The Heidi Chronicles (for TV) (as Heidi Holland)
House Arrest (Winer) (as Janet Beindorf); Ellen's Energy Adventure (short) (as Dr. Judy Peterson—uncredited)
Fierce Creatures (Young, Schepisi) (as Willa Weston); Home-grown (Gyllenhaal) (as Sierra Kazan)
Halloween H2O: Twenty Years Later (Miner) (as Laurie Strode/Keri Tate); Nicholas' Gift (Markowitz—for TV) (as Maggie Green)
Virus (Bruno) (as Kit Foster)
Drowning Mona (Gomez) (as Rona Cale); The Tailor of Panama (Boorman); Daddy and Them (Thornton)
Murder at the World Series (McLaglen—for TV) (dialogue coach)
When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth , New York, 1993.
Tell Me Again: About the Night I Was Born , New York, 1995.
Interviews in Interview (New York), September 1983 and August 1989.
Interview with C. Krista, in Films in Review (New York), August/September 1985.
Interview in Time Out (London), 3 January 1990.
Interview in Premiere (New York), February/March 1990.
"Tuff Enough," interview with Rod Lurie, in Los Angeles Magazine , July 1994.
Photoplay (London), May 1979.
Thomson, David, "Class of 1985," in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1985.
Hibbin, S., "Jamie Lee Curtis," in Films and Filming (London), August 1985.
" Blue Steel ," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), May 1989.
Lerner, Michael, "Zany Jamie," in Interview (New York), August 1989.
Clark, John, filmography in Premiere (New York), September 1989.
Boyd, Blanche McCrary, "The Rules of the Jamie Game," in Premiere (New York), November 1991.
Diamond, J., "Jamie Lee Curtis Faces Up to Her Image," in New York Times , 27 December 1992.
Stars (Mariembourg), Winter 1995.
Frankel, Martha, "What Jamie Lee Loves More Than Acting," in Redbook (New York), October 1996.
Current Biography (New York), 1998.
Nashawaty, Chris, "Final Cut," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 14 August 1998.
Allen, T., "Scaredy-Kitten," in Esquire (New York), September 1998.
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Like many a cinematic ingenue, Jamie Lee Curtis started out as a heroine of horror/terror films: John Carpenter's Halloween , The Fog , and Halloween II ; Paul Lynch's Prom Night ; and Roger Spottiswoode's Terror Train . But unlike scores of attractive but inexperienced young actresses, she never was forced to make films that were strictly cheesy, Grade D exploitation. Similarly, unlike countless performers whose careers never transcend their roots, she has been able to secure a series of showy supporting and starring roles in A-list films. Perhaps her career progressed in this direction because of her lineage: her parents are, of course, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Keeping in mind her parents, Curtis's casting in horror films may be linked to the shower her mother took in Psycho ; prior to debuting in Halloween , Curtis appeared in a television series based on the film Operation Petticoat , the original of which had starred her father.
This is not to imply that Curtis simply inherited her fame. Early in her career, she "paid her dues" in television movies which were variously stupid ( She's in the Army Now , a tepid reworking of Private Benjamin ), exploitative ( Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story ), or stupid and exploitative ( Money on the Side , playing a suburban housewife who becomes a prostitute—a film which never would be confused with Buñuel's Belle du jour ). In all these films, Curtis imbued her characters with an intelligence far greater than that supplied by the scriptwriters.
Having the proper connections may have helped her early on, but Curtis's acting ability and on-screen appeal, coupled with her undeniable sexiness, are what have sustained her. In Halloween , for instance, her talent is showcased to good advantage. As the likable, partnerless member of a trio of young women, she manages to convey her character's repressed sexuality—an irony, considering the in-your-face eroticism inherent in so many of her future roles. Indeed, in some of Curtis's biggest box-office hits, she has traded on a combination of her natural effervescence and sex appeal. In Trading Places , one of her earlier films, she is memorable in her supporting role as a Bronx-accented hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold. It was here where she first displayed her flair for comedy. In A Fish Called Wanda , she blends seamlessly with a choice cast (John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin) as a sexy con woman. Her instant-classic striptease scene in True Lies (in which she is cast as Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife) is as eye-popping as any of the film's special effects.
While she was taking showy roles in Trading Places , A Fish Called Wanda , and True Lies , Curtis also was tackling parts that stretched her as an actress—most successfully, as the young woman who comes upon her late mother's romantic correspondence with a married man in Love Letters ; and the title role in the television adaptation of Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles . She also has played characters of integrity in films that were simply unsuccessful: the aerobics instructor in the inane Perfect , and the cop in the muddled Blue Steel . And she has taken supporting roles in projects she has believed in: A Man in Love , Dominick and Eugene , and Amazing Grace and Chuck .
Because her highest-profile roles have been supporting ones ( Trading Places , True Lies ) or as a part of an ensemble ( A Fish Called Wanda ), Curtis never has won a place in the inner circle of actress-stars, alongside the likes of Demi Moore and Julia Roberts. This is unfortunate, as she is every bit as attractive as (and, in some ways, far more charismatic than) Moore and Roberts. Curtis's full-bodied performance in The Heidi Chronicles serves as evidence that she has matured as an actress, and is quite capable of playing characters whose intelligence and vulnerability transcend their sexuality.
Yet at the time she made The Heidi Chronicles , her most fully evolved and heartfelt projects were made-for-TV; she also starred in Nicholas' Gift as a parent forced to make a life-giving decision regarding the donation of her brain-dead son's organs. Otherwise, Curtis was lost in the dreadful sci-fi thriller Virus ; her role in the ensemble farce Homegrown was virtually a cameo; and she had what might have been a solid part as a comically sexy small town waitress in Drowning Mona, only the character was underwritten. Meanwhile, she was linked to her cinematic past. In 1997, Curtis was reunited with her Fish Called Wanda co-stars in the less-than-memorable Fierce Creatures ; the film was shot in 1995 by Robert M. Young, and then rewritten and re-filmed by Fred Schepisi the following year. Then in 1998, she reprised her screen debut in the self-explanatorily-titled Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later.