Scream Queen Profile: Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee CurtisJamie Lee Curtis (born November 22, 1958) is an American actress and author. Although she was initially known as a “scream queen” because of her starring roles in several horror films early in her career, such as Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night and Terror Train, Jamie Lee Curtis has since compiled a body of work that spans many genres. Her 1998 book, Today I Feel Silly, and Other Moods That Make My Day, made the best-seller list in The New York Times. Curtis has appeared in advertisements for Activia since 2007, and is a blogger for The Huffington Post online newspaper. She is married to actor, screenwriter, and director Christopher Guest.

Curtis was born in Los Angeles, to actor Tony Curtis and actress Janet Leigh. Her paternal grandparents were Hungarian Jewish immigrants. 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, Ben, and Nicholas Curtis (who died in 1994 of a drug overdose). Curtis attended Westlake School in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills High School, and graduated from 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.

Halloween 2Curtis’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,[5] further cementing 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 met with a negative reviews akin to Prom Night. Both films performed only 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’ 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, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection, as well as giving an uncredited voice role in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

Her role in 1983’s Trading Places helped Curtis shed her horror queen image. 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda achieved near cult status – while showcasing her as a comedic actress. She won a Golden Globe for her work in 1994’s True Lies. Her recent successful film roles include Disney’s Freaky Friday (2003), opposite Lindsay Lohan. The movie was filmed at Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, California, near where Curtis and Guest live with their children. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in this movie.

Prom NightIn 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.

Curtis made her television debut in an episode of Columbo, but her first starring TV role was opposite Richard Lewis in the situation comedy Anything But Love, which ran for four seasons from 1989 through 1992. Her performance as Hannah Miller received both a Golden Globe and People’s Choice Award. She appeared as nurse Lt. Duran in the short-lived television series, Operation Petticoat; based on the big-screen version which starred her real-life father.

She starred in the 1981 TV film, Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story, playing the part of the eponymous doomed Playmate. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work in TNT’s adaptation of the Wendy Wasserstein play The Heidi Chronicles. More recently, 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.

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