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The Transformation Of Jamie Lee Curtis From Childhood To Halloween Kills

Jamie Lee Curtis has been working since the '70s, but she's been in Hollywood her whole life. The daughter of "Psycho" star Janet Leigh and "Some Like It Hot" star Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee is second generation Hollywood royalty. The children of famous movie people have been getting big breaks ever since Douglas Fairbanks Jr., but once they're in the spotlight, they need talent to stick with it. Like her mother, Curtis has transformed the horror genre with her presence, and like her father, she is a gifted comedian.

Curtis was one of the first Scream Queens. As low budget horror exploded in the '70s and '80s, women like Curtis, Linnea Quigley, and Marilyn Burns became splatter stars. Curtis eventually went from final girl to funny woman in the '80s, with films like "Trading Places." She married a baron, switched places with Lindsay Lohan, got sober, and hocked probiotic yogurt. Curtis briefly retired from acting, but has returned to the genre that birthed her — horror — with the new "Halloween" trilogy.

The child of Hollywood royalty

Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh wed in 1951, in a private ceremony. According to Yours UK, their friend Jerry Lewis said the marriage would be "career suicide," but the opposite turned out to be true. Leigh and Curtis starred in five films together. Jamie Lee Curtis' older sister, Kelly Curtis, was born to the couple in 1956, and Jamie Lee came two years later in 1956.

Leigh and Curtis divorced in 1962, due to Curtis' infidelity. "There is nothing harder than being a child," Curtis told AARP, "and I am a product of a lot of divorces. Janet married four times, Bob four, and Tony six." According to CBS News, the final straw was when Curtis was rumored to be seeing his 17-year-old "Tara Bulbas" co-star. Curtis says his career was permanently damaged by the divorce, as the public (and his daughters) sided with Leigh. "They had movie magazines with headlines like, 'Tony is going with a teenager and his children are crying,'" he told Reuters.

It took a long time for Tony Curtis to have a relationship with his daughters by Leigh, according to Curtis himself. "We're getting to the point where they realize I'm 83, so let's be friends," he said. "But they've got to stay out of my life if they come in bent and angry because I left their mother I don't know how long ago. Don't I get a chance to be forgiven?" 

Becoming a Scream Queen with Halloween

Jamie Lee Curtis' first film role was as the lead of John Carpenter's "Halloween." As one of the quintessential final girls, Laurie has become iconic in horror history. Just as her mother helped invent the slasher film, Curtis and Carpenter created the modern slasher with its higher kill count and sex negative mythos. As Carol J. Clover writes in "Men, Women, and Chainsaws," final girls like Laurie are spared the killer's wrath because they don't partake in drinking and premarital sex like their dead blonde friends. The trope was lambasted in the 2010 meta horror "The Cabin in the Woods," featuring Curtis' BFF Sigourney Weaver.

Curtis cemented her Scream Queen status with subsequent films "The Fog" (another Carpenter joint), "Prom Night," and "Terror Train" — all of which came out in 1980. In 1981, Curtis reprised the role of Laurie in "Halloween II," helping bring in the trend of slasher sequels. After "Halloween" became a franchise, series like "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Friday the 13th" would follow suit.

Pivoting to comedy

Curtis proved that she had the range in 1983's "Trading Places." Curtis starred in the comedy with "Saturday Night Live" alums Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. Hoping to finally decide the question of nature vs. nurture, the Duke brothers swap the fortunes of Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd) and Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy). Curtis played sex worker Ophelia, who helps Aykroyd's character after his life is turned upside-down by his capricious bosses. The movie was a great success financially and critically.

After "Trading Places," Curtis starred in black comedy "A Fish Called Wanda" opposite Kevin Kline and "Monty Python" troupe members John Cleese and Michael Palin. Curtis received BAFTA nominations for her roles in "Places" and "Wanda," and began starring regularly in comedies. One of her most important '90s comedies was the James Cameron action comedy "True Lies," in which she does a simultaneously sexy and awkward striptease for a man that turns out to be her own husband.

Mom roles in the '90s and '00s

The 1990s saw Curtis transitioning to mom roles. She played maternal figure/eventual stepmother Shelly DeVoto in the "My Girl" films. The first "My Girl" is responsible for instilling bee phobia in an entire generation of youngsters. Many people cite the film as their introduction to their own mortality, with Vice calling the film "trauma-tainment." "My Girl 2" is a film that also exists.

Perhaps Curtis' most iconic mother role is in 2003's "Freaky Friday." A remake of the 1976 Jodie Foster vehicle (and, to a lesser extent, the 1995 Shelley Long TV movie), "Freaky Friday" tells the story of Type-A mother Tess (Curtis) and outré rocker daughter Anna. Because they can't see eye-to-eye on anything, a magic fortune cookie decides to force them to walk a mile in each other's shoes. 2003's "Freaky Friday" also starred Chad Michael Murray, Mark Harmon, and "Fresh Off the Boat" star Lucille Soong.

Sobriety, barony, and regularity

Jamie Lee Curtis married improviser and director Christopher Guest in 1984. "I married Chris five months after seeing his picture in Rolling Stone," Curtis told Sigourney Weaver in Interview. "I said out loud to my friend, the late, great Debra Hill, 'Oh, I'm going to marry that guy.'" Guest inherited his father's title in 1996 and became the 5th Baron Haden-Guest. Technically, Curtis' title is "The Right Honourable The Lady Haden-Guest," but she told Architectural Digest that she ignores the title because "It has nothing to do with me."

For a long time, Curtis was secretly alcoholic and addicted to painkillers. "None of it was ever public. Nobody in my family knew. My husband didn't know. It was a big surprise to everyone," she told Reader's Digest. She was first prescribed painkillers after a routine cosmetic surgery, and she wrote in HuffPo that "the morphine becomes the warm bath from which to escape painful reality." Curtis went into recovery in 1999 and calls her sobriety the greatest achievement of her life.

In 2006, Curtis briefly retired from acting. Per the Irish Examiner, one motivation for this was her disgust at Hollywood's obsession with thinness. Seeing as a cosmetic procedure is what first exposed Curtis to opiates, it makes sense that she would see the underlying pressure to be beautiful as the root cause of a lot of pain and suffering.

Curtis' retirement was short-lived, but her commitment to health and transparency about the body was not. One of Curtis' most recent longstanding gigs was as the spokeswoman for probiotic yogurt Activia. Her frank discussion of digestive health was sent up by Kristen Wiig on "SNL."

Returning to horror

Curtis hadn't spent much time in the horror sphere since the '80s. In 1998, Curtis starred in "Halloween H20," the first in several attempts to resurrect the "Halloween" series. But 2002's "Halloween: Resurrection" seemed to finally kill off Laurie Strode for good.

Curtis came back to horror in 2015 via the FOX series "Scream Queens." The show came from "Glee" showrunners Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck, and Ian Brennan. The first season focused on the Red Devil murders at Wallace University, and Season 2 focused on the Green Meanie's slayings at creepy C.U.R.E. Hospital. Curtis starred on the show named after the actress type she once personified as Dean Cathy Munsch. She even recreated her mother's iconic "Psycho" shower scene in Season 1. Fans hope that Ryan Murphy can lure Curtis over the "American Horror Story" after putting in two seasons on the Fox show.

David Gordon Green revived the "Halloween" franchise with 2018's "Halloween." That film undid much of the previous "Halloween" canon, including Laurie's death. Now, Laurie was a tough-as-nails grandmother. Three generations of Strode women battled Michael Myers in "Halloween" and returned for "Halloween Kills." Once again, Curtis paid tribute to her mother's horror work by attending the "Halloween Kills" red carpet in a Marion Crane costume (as reported by Vulture). She is, and always will be, her mother's daughter.