First, Jamie Lee Curtis had her virginal, teen-scream-queen period. Then, a lusty, expose-your-body, sex-bomb period. Next, a sweet, art-house-only phase. Then she thrived as a wacky comedian.
In a film career that began in 1978 with John Carpenter's "Halloween," the actress daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh has had what one writer called "more close escapes than an Indiana Jones movie." Curtis insisted that she never had a career plan or a deluge of offers that would have afforded her such a luxury. She took each movie part for the job, to earn her own living. Her shrewd career moves, she said, appear shrewd only in retrospect.
She followed "Halloween" with a string of horror flicks that included "Terror Train," "The Fog," "Prom Night," "Road Games" and "Halloween II." She extricated herself from that genre with the 1981 TV movie "Dorothy Stratten: Death of a Centerfold," in which she used her body as an acting asset for the first time. Her ample figure was also on display in another string of films — "Love Letters," "Grandview USA," "Trading Places" and "Perfect" — trapping her this time as a sex queen who couldn't make a movie without removing her blouse.
The "Perfect" flop probably saved her from this image, simply because it slowed her career. Three commendable "little" films — "A Man in Love," "Dominick and Eugene" and "Amazing Grace and Chuck" — spotlighted her in only a peripheral way. Next, Curtis proved herself a facile comedian in John Cleese's "A Fish Called Wanda" and Kathryn Bigelow’s "Blue Steel," a movie full of stylized blood and gore.
And then the small screen beckoned. In 1989 she debuted “Anything but Love,” an office romance comedy costarring Richard Lewis.
After the show wrapped, Curtis took on one of her most daring roles in “True Lies,” transforming onscreen from bored housewife to secret agent alongside action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and under the direction of Bigelow’s ex-husband James Cameron.
She went on to star in the 1995 television movie “The Heidi Chronicles,” about a woman and her feminist beliefs, before returning to her roots in 1998 for “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later.” Comedies such as “Freaky Friday,” the “Fish Called Wanda” cast reunion “Fierce Creatures” and the Disney romp “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” followed.
Curtis, who has been in recovery from alcohol and painkiller addiction since 1999, made headlines for her outspoken support of “real” women, posing without makeup in only a sports bra and shorts in More magazine in 2002.
The star supports groups like the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation and has received critical acclaim for her children’s books.