Catherine Zeta-Jones (Actress)
Catherine Zeta-Jones, CBE (born 25 September 1969), is a Welsh actress, currently based in the United States. She began her career on stage at an early age.
After starring in a number of UK and US television films and small roles in films, she came to prominence with roles in Hollywood movies such as The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment in the late 1990s.
She won an Academy Award, BAFTA Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for portraying Velma Kelly in the 2002 film adaptation of the musical Chicago. In 2010, she won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Desiree in A Little Night Music.
I remember her best in the British TV series The Darling Buds of May. Here's a little collage from way back then:
Zeta-Jones was born Catherine Zeta Jones in Swansea, Wales, to Patricia (née Fair), an Irish seamstress, and David James Jones (b. 1946), a Welsh sweet factory owner.
Her name stems from those of her grandmothers - her maternal grandmother, Catherine Fair, and her paternal grandmother, Zeta Jones (1917 - 14 August 2008). She now hyphenates her name as "Catherine Zeta-Jones", accepting the mistake by the American press early in her career.
After her parents won £100,000 at Housie in the 1980s, they moved to St Andrews Drive in Mayals, an upper middle class area of Swansea. Jones left the private Dumbarton House School early to further her acting ambitions without obtaining O levels.
While at Dumbarton, she once had her lunch money stolen by fellow pupil Rob Brydon. She then attended The Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick, West London, for a full time three year course in musical theatre.
Zeta-Jones' stage career began in childhood. She often performed at friends and family functions and was part of local dance troupe the Hazel Johnson School of Dance which rehearsed at St Alban's Church, Treboeth. Zeta-Jones made her professional acting debut when she played the lead in Annie, a production at Swansea Grand Theatre. When she was 14, Mickey Dolenz cast her as Tallulah in Bugsy Malone.
In 1986, at age 17 she had a part in the chorus of The Pajama Game at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester starring Paul Jones and Fiona Hendley. The show subsequently toured the UK and in 1987, she starred in 42nd Street as Peggy Sawyer at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. She was cast in the leading role after both the actress playing Peggy Sawyer and her understudy fell ill. She also played Mae Jones in the Kurt Weill opera Street Scene with the English National Opera at the London Coliseum Theatre in 1989. After the show closed, she travelled to France where she played the lead role in French director Philippe de Broca's Les 1001 Nuits, her feature film debut.
Her singing and dancing ability suggested a promising future but it was in a straight acting role as Mariette in the successful British television adaptation of H. E. Bates' The Darling Buds of May that brought her to public attention and made her a British tabloid darling.
She briefly flirted with a musical career, beginning with a part in the 1992 album Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of Spartacus, from which the single "For All Time" was released in 1992. It reached #36 in the UK charts. She went on to release the singles "In the Arms of Love", "I Can't Help Myself", and a duet with David Essex "True Love Ways", reaching #38 in the UK singles chart in 1994. She also starred in an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as well as in Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.
She continued to find moderate success with a number of television projects, including The Return of the Native (1994) based on the novel of the same name and the mini-series Catherine the Great (1995). She also appeared in Splitting Heirs (1993), a comedy starring Eric Idle, Rick Moranis and John Cleese.
In 1996, she was cast as the evil aviatrix Sala in the action film, The Phantom, based on the comic by Lee Falk. The following year, she starred in the CBS mini-series Titanic, which also starred Tim Curry and Peter Gallagher. Steven Spielberg, who noted her performance in the mini-series, recommended her to Martin Campbell, the director of The Mask of Zorro.
Zeta-Jones subsequently landed a lead role in the film, alongside compatriot Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. She learned dancing, riding, sword-fighting and took part in dialect classes to play her role as Elena. Commenting on her performance, Variety noted, "Zeta-Jones is bewitchingly lovely as the center of everyone's attention, and she throws herself into the often physical demands of her role with impressive grace." In 1999, she co-starred with Sean Connery in the film Entrapment, and alongside Liam Neeson and Lili Taylor in The Haunting.
In 2000, she starred in the critically acclaimed Traffic with future husband Michael Douglas. Traffic earned praise from the press, with the critic for the Dallas Observer calling the movie "a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a beautiful and brutal work". Zeta-Jones' performance earned her her first Golden Globe nomination, as Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.
After taking the lead role of America's Sweethearts, a 2001 film which also starred Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal and John Cusack. Despite the poor reviews, it was a hit at the box office grossing over $138 million worldwide.
In 2002, Zeta-Jones continued her momentum and played murderous vaudevillian Velma Kelly in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago. Her performance was praised by the press, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer which stated, "Zeta-Jones makes a wonderfully statuesque and bitchy saloon goddess." Zeta-Jones won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
In 2003, she voiced Marina in the animated film Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas opposite Brad Pitt, as well as starring as serial divorcee Marilyn Rexroth in the black comedy Intolerable Cruelty with George Clooney. In 2004, she played air hostess Amelia Warren in The Terminal as well as Europol agent Isabel Lahiri in Ocean's Twelve, the sequel to Ocean's Eleven.
In 2005, she reprised her role as Elena in The Legend of Zorro, the sequel to The Mask of Zorro. In 2007, she starred in the romantic comedy No Reservations, a remake of the German film Mostly Martha, and in 2008, starred alongside Guy Pearce and Saoirse Ronan in Death Defying Acts, a biopic about legendary escapologist Harry Houdini. In 2009, Zeta-Jones starred in romantic comedy The Rebound, in which she played a 40-year old mother of two who falls in love with a younger man, played by Justin Bartha.
In August 2009, it was announced she would return to her musical roots and make her Broadway debut in the revival of A Little Night Music with Angela Lansbury, beginning December 2009. For her performance, Zeta-Jones received an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, as well as a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.
Apart from her acting career, Zeta-Jones is also an advertising spokeswoman, currently the global spokeswoman for cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. She has appeared in numerous TV commercials for the phone company T-Mobile, and one for Alfa Romeo. She is also the spokeswoman for Di Modolo jewellery.
Zeta-Jones was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.
Zeta-Jones met actor Michael Douglas, who shares the same birthday as she, and is exactly 25 years her senior, at the Deauville Film Festival in France in August 1998, after being introduced by Danny DeVito. They began dating in March 1999. She claims that when they met, he used the line "I'd like to father your children."
They became engaged on 31 December 1999, and were married at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on 18 November 2000. A traditional Welsh choir (Côr Cymraeg Rehoboth) sang at their wedding. Her Welsh gold wedding ring includes a Celtic motif and was purchased in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth. They have two children. Their son, Dylan Michael Douglas (named after Dylan Thomas), was born on 8 August 2000, with Zeta Jones' pregnancy incorporated into her role in Traffic. Their daughter, Carys Zeta Douglas, was born on 20 April 2003.
Zeta-Jones has two brothers, David and Lyndon. Her father's cousin is married to singer Bonnie Tyler, from nearby Neath, Wales. Her younger brother, Lyndon Jones, is her personal manager and producer for Milkwood Films. Zeta-Jones' parents recently moved from their Mayals property to a £2 million home two miles (3 km) further west along the Swansea coast, paid for by their daughter.
When she was born, Zeta-Jones had difficulty breathing, so an emergency tracheotomy was performed. She refuses to hide the scar on her neck, stating that it is because of that scar that she is alive today.
In 2004, Douglas and Zeta-Jones took legal action against stalker Dawnette Knight, who was accused of sending violent letters to the couple that contained graphic threats on Catherine's life. Testifying, Zeta-Jones said the threats left her so shaken she feared a nervous breakdown. Knight claimed she had been in love with Douglas and admitted to the offenses, which took place between October 2003 and May 2004. She was sentenced to three years in prison.
Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders parodied Zeta-Jones as a vacuous über-celebrity named Catherine Spartacus-Zeta-Douglas-Jones on their show French & Saunders in the series Back With a Vengeance. (Spartacus is a movie role memorably played by Zeta-Jones' father-in-law). Catherine Spartacus-Zeta-Douglas-Jones alternates between a strong Welsh accent and a strong American accent and uses Welsh-language phrases when she speaks.
Zeta-Jones is also parodied in the BBC's The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson by Debra Stephenson reading Beauty and the Beast also alternating between strong Welsh and American accents.
Zeta is mentioned in the song Hollywood by Marina and the Diamonds in the line "Oh my God, you look just like Shakira no, no, you're Catherine Zeta, actually my name's Marina".
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