Little-Known Facts About Jamie Lee Curtis

Millennials remember her as the hilarious mother of Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday, Gen-Xers recognize her as the Scream Queen, and baby boomers know her as the daughter of one of the most beloved 1950s Hollywood couples. For decades, Jamie Lee Curtis has graced the screens with her striking beauty and wit to match. However, she’s far more than your typical Hollywood actress. Around the turn of the century, Jamie shifted her attention to other meaningful aspects of her life, like raising a family and writing. We’re going to reveal just what makes this celebrity so iconic.

She Was Known As The Scream Queen

Jamie Lee Curtis wears a frantic expression while filming the movie Halloween.
Falcon International Productions
Falcon International Productions

Jamie Lee Curtis’s film debut was in the classic thriller Halloween. However, after the success of that film, it seemed she couldn’t shake the horror movie roles. She starred in Prom Night, Terror Train, and The Fog in 1980 alone!

The very next year, she wrapped up her scary movie phase by starring in Roadgames and Halloween II. Known as the “scream queen,” she returned to the world of thrillers in the 2018 rendition of Halloween and the 2020 film Halloween Kills.

She Has Famous Parents

Toddler Jamie is photographed with her parents and older sister.
Getty Images
Getty Images

Jamie is the toddler on the right in being held by her father, Tony Curtis. Tony was an actor whose fame spiked in the 1950s. He was in more than 100 films. Like Jamie, he starred in roles across different genres.

Her mother, Janet Leigh, is a triple threat (an actress, singer, and dancer). Beginning in 1947, Janet was in an array of MGM movies, including the 1949 edition of Little Women. She made her Broadway debut in 1975 and acted alongside Jamie in The Fog and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later.

She’s A Successful Children’s Book Author

Jamie smiles while holding up her first published children's story.
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis has written more than a dozen children’s stories. Her first children’s book, When I Was Little, was published in 1993. She’s published a new children’s story every few years since. Her stories are made for grade levels PreK-3.

All of her stories are illustrated by Laura Cornell and published by HarperCollins. Her books have gained national popularity, with two of them landing on The New York Times best-seller list. They also appear on the Scholastic website.

She Experienced Love At First Sight

Jamie smiles at her husband while they walk through an event holding hands.
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Jamie married Christopher Guest in December of 1984, just five months after seeing him for the first time. When she saw him in the film This Is Spinal Tap, she reportedly told her friend, producer and writer Debra Hill, “Oh, I’m going to marry that guy.”

Christopher is a writer, musician, director, and actor who has citizenship in the UK and America. After starring in the movie that caught Jamie’s attention, he became a cast member for the 1984 season of Saturday Night Live. They say that laughter is the key to a happy marriage, and their successful partnership might prove it.

She Has Two Adopted Children

Jamie Lee Curtis poses with her immediate family.
curtisleejamie/Instagram
curtisleejamie/Instagram

Pact’s Point of View interviewed Jamie Lee Curtis in 1997 regarding her personal life. Jamie Lee Curtis opened up about her immediate family. Due to an inability to have biological children, Jamie and her husband Christopher decided to adopt.

Two years after their marriage in 1984, they adopted their daughter, Annie. When Annie was nine, a series of “celestial” circumstances changed Jamie’s mind about not having any more children. They adopted their son, Tom, as a newborn.

She Is The Godmother Of Jake Gyllenhaal

Jamie Lee Curtis and Jake Gyllenhaal link arms while walking in New York.
Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Like Jamie Lee Curtis, Jake Gyllenhaal was born into the entertainment industry. His father is film director Stephen Gyllenhaal and his mother is film producer and screenwriter Naomi Foner. Both of his parents also happen to be close friends of Jamie Lee Curtis, and decided to name her his godmother.

His parents wanted to ensure that he kept his sense of gratitude, making him hold a job as a teenager and volunteer at homeless shelters. It also may be why they picked the down-to-Earth Jamie Lee to stick by his side.

She Was A Guest Of Honor For Women In Recovery

Jamie smiles for the cameras at an event.
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

In 2003, Jamie Lee Curtis participated in the 11th annual gala and fundraiser for Women in Recovery. The non-profit is based out of Venice, California and offers a twelve-step, in-patient program for women in need of rehabilitation.

In 2019, she went public about her history with drinking and pain killers as she celebrated 20 years of sobriety. She told Reader’s Digest that the decision was largely influenced by her daughter, Annie, and her commitment to motherhood. She says that recovery is the greatest achievement of her life.

Her Older Sister Is Also An Actress

Jamie and Kelly Curtis put their heads together to pose for a photo.
Brian To/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Brian To/FilmMagic/Getty Images

While Jamie Lee Curtis has four half-siblings from her father, her older sister, Kelly Lee Curtis, is the only one with whom she shares both parents. Kelly appeared on the big screen with their parents in the 1958 film The Vikings when she was just a toddler.

Kelly went on to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and landed her first starring role in Magic Sticks. Like her sister, she is also known for her part in a horror film: The Devil’s Daughter.

She First Appeared In Television Mysteries

A youthful Jamie Lee Curtis poses near a pool.
Paul Harris/Getty Images
Paul Harris/Getty Images

Before landing her 1978 role in Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis was on several television mystery shows. She played the role of Mary in an episode of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.

The same year, she was a waitress for an episode of Columbo, which starred everyone’s favorite ’70s detective, Peter Falk. She even landed the part of Linda Frey in an episode of the classic Charlie’s Angels. It makes sense that she was pegged to star in various thrillers after so much experience with mystery television.

She Writes For Huffington Post

Jamie is caught mid-sentence while participating in a panel.
Toby Canham/Getty Images
Toby Canham/Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis has been a contributor for HuffPost, formerly The Huffington Post, since 2007. She’s written dozens of articles, using the first person as she powerfully lays out her two cents on a variety of matters.

And she isn’t shy. She’s openly critiqued the Oscars, encouraged parents to do better, paid homage to industry greats, and has put her heartfelt stamp on various current events. Jamie is one of the rare Hollywood stars who seems more concerned with being honest than with keeping up appearances.

She Loves Gaming

Dressed in cosplay, Jamie and her son pose with a crowd for a photo.
Mike Windle/Getty Images
Mike Windle/Getty Images

Many were shocked to hear that Jamie Lee Curtis attended EVO, one of the largest fighting game tournaments, in 2015. She was disguised in a Vega mask and went with her family, who also wore elaborate, character-based costumes.

She mentioned in an interview that she’s an avid player of Street Fighter. She also loves World of Warcraft. She and her son attended the 2016 premier of Warcraft, the game-inspired movie, in full-throttle cosplay. It wasn’t a marketing ploy (she wasn’t even in the movie). It was a genuine moment of fandom from a star.

She’s Won A Dozen Awards, Literally

Jamie accepts her Saturn award in 2019.
Jody Cortes/Getty Images
Jody Cortes/Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis has been nominated for more than three dozen awards and won about a third of them. Her first win was for her role in Trading Places, the 1983 classic starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

The following year she won Best International Actress for her role in Perfect, a drama that also starred John Travolta. Most recently, she won the Saturn Award for Best Actress in the 2018 film Halloween, a reprise of the thriller that put her on the map.

She’s Supports Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Jamie stands at a podium at a Children's Hospital LA event.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

As one of the leading endorsers of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Jamie Lee Curtis has attended various events to show her support of their cause. She was a part of the 2011 opening of the hospital’s new inpatient facility.

She also attended the CHLA 2014 Gala alongside other A-list celebrities, such as Natalie Portman. More recently, she attended their “Once Upon A Time” Gala in 2016. The hospital is a non-profit that opened back in 1901 for children in need of life-saving care.

She’s In Touch With Her Heritage

Jamie poses with her father at a dinner party circa 1989.
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis’ paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants who came to the States from Hungary. In 1990, she and her father, Tony Curtis, helped finance the rebuilding of one of Hungary’s primary synagogues.

Built in 1859, the Great Synagogue in Budapest was left in poor condition after World War II. Also known as the Dohány Street Synagogue, the historical complex is the largest synagogue in Europe. The renovations took place from 1991 and 1998 and were financed solely by the state and private donations, like that from the Curtis family.

Her Daughter Is A Dancer

Jamie Lee's daughter, Annie Guest, does standing splits at a dance studio.
curtisleejamie/Instagram
curtisleejamie/Instagram

Jamie Lee Curtis’ daughter, Annie Guest, may not be carrying on the family tradition of acting. However, she certainly caught the performer bug. As you can see in this photo, she certainly knows how to dance.

In fact, she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Dance from Kenyon College. Since then, she’s made a career out of teaching ballet, jazz/contemporary, lyrical, modern, tap, and hip-hop. Annie is also the co-director of an award-winning dance team. Looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all.

She Has A Turbulent Relationship With Acting

Jamie looks down with a serious expression while holding a baby on set.
Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images
Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images

Despite her massive success as an actress, Jamie Lee Curtis has ebbed and flowed in her commitment to the craft. In 2006, she told Access Hollywood that she was done with acting, wanting to focus on family life. She made an exception the following year when she starred in Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

Then in 2010, she starred in You Again with her long-time friend Sigourney Weaver. Though she’s had a steady stream of roles since, she has been famously quoted saying “The more I like me, the less I want to pretend to be other people.”

She Is Considered A Lady In The UK

Dressed-up Jamie smiles next to her husband who wears a tux.
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis’ husband, Christopher Guest, became the 5th Baron Haden-Guest in 1996, succeeding his late father, Peter Albert Michael Guest. This means that Jamie is the current Lady Haden-Guest.

Baron Haden-Guest is a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom. A peerage is a legal system comprised of noble ranks that contribute to the British system of honors. While the title is a big deal in England, she told Architectural Digest that it isn’t a title for her to claim.

She’s An Inventor

Jamie smiles for a portrait in the '80s.
Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images
Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

In 1987, Jamie Lee Curtis patented her very own invention. It is a diaper that was modified to contain a moisture-proof pocket containing wipes. The item is designed so that you can take out the wipes with just one hand.

It also guarantees that caretakers won’t run out of wipes so long as they have a diaper around. Jamie refused to place the diapers on the market before biodegradable diapers came out. However, the U.S. patent expired in 2007 and is now public domain.

She Considered Social Work

Jamie poses for a portrait in 1978.
Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Before deciding on an acting career, Jamie Lee Curtis attended the University of the Pacific, Stockton, a private school about six hours north of her hometown of Santa Monica. She attended in 1976 with a major in social work.

After one semester, she quit school and returned to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Her career shift happened at the start of ’77 and the same year she had already landed television spots. The following year she would establish herself as a thriller star.

She’s Been Recognized In Both Television And Film

Jamie and her costar film Nicholas' Gift.
CBS
CBS

Many actors are exclusively big-screen actors or television actors. Especially before the days of streaming television, the two overlapped less frequently. However, Jamie Lee Curtis has been recognized in both realms.

She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress- Television Series Musical or Comedy for her part in Anything But Love. She also was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress for her performance in the television film Nicholas’ Gift.

She Established Her Comedic Talent In 1988

A promotional shot shows main cast members of the film.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

While the 1983 film Trading Places helped Jamie Lee Curtis escape her scream queen title, and earned her a BAFTA award, it wasn’t until a few years later that audiences got to see her talent shine as a comedic leading lady.

The 1988 film A Fish Called Wanda is generally considered the film that put Jamie on the A-list of comedy actors. She was again nominated for a BAFTA and though she didn’t win it, what she did win was even more valuable: the adoration of millions.

She Has Several Half Siblings

Jamie poses with her father and her siblings.
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Being that Jamie Lee Curtis’ dad, Tony Curtis, has been married a whopping six times, it isn’t as much of a surprise that Jamie has four half-siblings. Tony divorced Jamie and sister Kelly’s mother when Jamie was still a toddler in 1962.

He went on to have son Benjamin Curtis (pictured to the left), Nicholas Curtis (center), Allegra Curtis (standing next to Jamie), and Alexandra Curtis who is not pictured. Many of her siblings have also earned credit acting.

Her Greatest Recognition Was For True Lies

Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Jamie Lee Curtis embrace while filming True Lies.
Siemoneit/Sygma via Getty Images
Siemoneit/Sygma via Getty Images

The 1994 James Cameron film True Lies was a huge break for Jamie Lee Curtis in terms of gaining recognition from the critics. For that movie alone she was nominated for eight separate awards, more than any other single role she’s ever played.

Of those eight, she won three: Funniest Lead Actress in a Motion Picture, Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical, and Best Actress. Fun fact: one of her nominations was for best kiss, which she shared with Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

She Had A 20-Year Gap Between Wins

Jamie wears a cape and mask at a luncheon.
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Though she’s received several awards over the years, the longest she went without receiving on was a shocking twenty years! During that time, she had plenty of nominations. However, after her 1995 win for Best Actress, she didn’t get another win until 2014.

Her next win wasn’t even for a live-action performance. Rather, it was for her voiceover role in the anime hit Kokuriko-zaka kara, translated From Up on Poppy Hill. She won for Best Female Vocal Performancein an Anime Feature Film/Special in a Supporting Role.

She Was A Voice In The Little Engine That Could

Jamie smiles at and embraces a young girl.
Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

In 2011, filmmakers created a computer-animated adaptation of the beloved children’s book The Little Engine That Could. It was a direct-to-DVD movie with an all-star cast including Whoopi Goldberg as the control tower and Jamie Lee Curtis as the clown who is the leader of the toys.

It also featured the voice of Jim Cummings, the man behind the voice of Winnie the Pooh. With such an impressive cast, it’s no wonder they were nominated as the Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Special/Direct-to-DVD Title or Short.

She Had The Same Love Interest Twice

Mark Harmon grins at the camera.
Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Returning to her mystery television show roots, Jamie Lee Curtis was in five episodes of NCIS in 2012. She played Dr. Samantha Ryan, a role that was supposed to be for one episode but was expanded into a recurring part.

She ended up being the romantic interest of Special Agent Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon. He’s the same actor who played her fiancé almost a decade prior in the remake of the film Freaky Friday.

She Starred In An Adaptation Of Her Father’s Movie

Jamie Lee Curtis poses in her military attire as Lt. Duran.
Getty Images
Getty Images

In 1977, one of Jamie’s first roles was as Lt. Duran in the television series Operation Petticoat. The show was based on a popular film of the same name that came out in 1959 and starred her father, Tony Curtis.

Tony was a leading role alongside the high-profile Cary Grant. Though Jamie did not play her father’s part (he was Lt. Nick Holden), it is notable that they were in two adaptations of the same story.

She Went To Boarding School

Girls do work in the classroom of a boarding school.
Harrison /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Harrison /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Being that both of her parents were film actors, it isn’t much a surprise that Jamie Lee Curtis was born in Santa Monica and raised in Los Angeles. She attended Westlake School followed by Beverly Hills High School.

What is surprising is that she did not graduate in Beverly Hills. Rather, she earned her diploma at Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Connecticut that keeps genders segregated. Why she went there is a mystery, but it may explain some of her down-to-Earth demeanor despite being raised by celebrities.

She Had A Voice Role In Halloween III

Jamie Lee Curtis poses in front of a giant Halloween poster.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Of the twelve Halloween movies that have been created from 1978 through 2020, Jamie Lee Curtis has been in about half of them. However, few will recall her part in the 1982 film Halloween III: Season of the Witch. That’s because she was not listed as a cast member.

Rather, she had a brief, uncredited voice role in the movie. Why she wasn’t a larger role in the film may have to do with the franchise’s tendency to have storylines separate from the one involving Jamie’s famed character Laurie Strode.

She Starred In The Play 8

The cast of 8 take a group photo onstage.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images for American Foundation for Equal Rights
Jason Merritt/Getty Images for American Foundation for Equal Rights

Though she hasn’t been known to appear frequently in theatre, in 2012 Jamie Lee Curtis starred in a performance of Dustin Lance Black’s play 8. The show featured a plethora of A-listers including Martin Sheen, Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, Jane Lynch, George Clooney, and Morgan Freeman.

Jamie played the role of Sandy Stier in the play’s reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California’s prop 8. The production was aired on Youtube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.