Jamie Lee Curtis saw her parents’ fame fade: ‘It’s humiliating, a hard business’


Jamie Lee Curtis comes from Hollywood royalty. Her mother was Janet Leigh, who’s arguably most remembered as the woman in the shower from Psycho. But Janet was incredible. She was Meg in the June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor Little Women. She was top billed in Bye Bye Birdie. And my gawd if you’ve never seen her in Touch of Evil or The Manchurian Candidate, please rectify that as soon as possible. Plus, she was as beautiful as she was talented. Jamie’s father was the man-about-town, Tony Curtis. Tony has a list of credits as long as your arm, notably Spartacus, Some Like It Hot, The Great Race, Flesh and Fury and my personal favorite, Operation Petticoat. Both were so iconic to Hollywood that Jamie had to prove herself a worthy heir to the Leigh-Curtis dynasty, not only in talent but in appearance, something the press was very cruel to her about for years. In the latest People podcast, Jamie gives a very different insight to being the child of famous parents. She said the hardest thing for her was watching her parents face aging out of the industry.

Jamie Lee Curtis is revealing what it was like to watch her screen legend parents Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh grow old in Hollywood.

The two-time Golden Globe winner, 62, appears on this week’s episode of the PEOPLE in the ’90s podcast, where she recounts the pair getting “face lifts and neck lifts,” which prepared her for the harsh reality of aging in the industry.

“I’m the child of movie stars. I watched my parents get face lifts and neck lifts,” Curtis tells PEOPLE in the ’90s hosts Jason Sheeler and Andrea Lavinthal. “I watched their work diminish, I watched their fame not diminish. And the contradiction of a lot of fame, but not a lot of work, is really hard to navigate for people. Very hard to be famous but not be doing the thing that made you famous. And that for the rest of your life, you’re famous for something you did a long time ago, and you chase that attention.”

[From People]

I remember a few photos of both Jamie’s parents post plastic surgery and it did seem they were chasing the clock. If I remember correctly, Janet stopped after a while and let her procedures settle but Tony kept going until the end. I find Jamie’s comments about fame and trying to remain relevant later in one’s career fascinating. It must be devastating when no one thinks you are capable of being the thing that made you impressive. I liked Janet quite a bit. I think she was treated unfairly by Hollywood and definitely by Tony, but she had a great career and then reinvented herself as an author. Although I acknowledge he’s a good actor, I am no fan of Tony as a person, so this is where my mom would tell me to not say anything at all.

Jamie used what she saw her parents go through when making her own career choices. By establishing herself a solid character actor, she was able to age out of the “hard body” roles she was landing in the ‘80s. Plus, she made the brilliant move to return to the Halloween franchise which made her famous. And to Jamie’s credit, I know nepotism helped her career, but even so, she has forged a career independent of her parents and independent of her husband, successful filmmaker Christopher Guest. So Jamie went into this business with her eyes wide open and found her own path.

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Photo credit: Avalon Red and Getty Images

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22 Responses to “Jamie Lee Curtis saw her parents’ fame fade: ‘It’s humiliating, a hard business’”

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  1. Mcmmom says:

    She seems very grounded – and she looks great.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    Jamie Lee is a very smart woman. She also has found ways to work and market herself to adjust to changing demand when she was no longer young. And she has been married to Christopher Guest for 37 years, a rarity in Hollywood

  3. Christa says:

    She does seem well adjusted. I have to admit that her Activia commercials are super annoying though. But I have an inkling that they are annoying because she openly rejects standards for women in the entertainment industry. She seems nice and normal. I really can’t put into words why those commercials are so annoying, but they are.

  4. SusanRagain says:

    Love every outfit in these photos.
    I like JLC, she was wonderful in A Fish Called Wanda. Not a horror fan so never watched the Halloween films.
    But she can do comedy very well.

    Look at how stunningly beautiful Janet Lee and Tony Curtis were together at their peak.
    Operation Petticoat was a favorite for years.
    Tony Curtis had some huge roles/movies during his career including Sweet Smell of Success.
    He costarred with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Jack Lemmon, etc. His personal life was a steaming hot mess for decades.

    JLC has a good understanding of BTS Hollywood.

  5. Nina says:

    I can’t help but admire how this amazing woman has the look of happiness on her face. Like complete satisfaction with who she is and where she is in life. That’s so rare with celebrities

  6. Digital Unicorn says:

    Love her and CANNOT wait for the new Halloween instalment. The Strode women look like they will kick his ass, again!

  7. Esmom says:

    It is pretty remarkable how she was able to learn valuable lessons from her parents’ situation instead of falling into similar patterns. I know her road hasn’t always been easy, so it’s good to see her doing so well.

  8. Lena says:

    She also got into writing children’s books and did endorsements as she aged. And she was lucky they asked her back for the reboot of Halloween. Many times they reboot a franchise and use all new people. But I admire JLC so much. Now I’m off to listen to that podcast!

  9. Lala11_7 says:

    Looks like she looked at what her parents did…and though she fell in some of the same traps…she had the stamina & foresight to avoid a LOT of the others…

    For which I say…”BRAVO!”

  10. ennie says:

    I love her, she’s always seem not to take herself too seriously. Her parents were absolutely beautiful.

  11. Darla says:

    I love a lot of her movies, but I think my favorite performance of hers is in Trading Places.

  12. Kaye says:

    She is great! And has the face of a true 62 year old – natural & no work!

  13. Twin falls says:

    When she clapped back at someone saying she did the new Halloween movie because she was broke with “I sold activia yogurt for seven years. I wasn’t broke” 😂 Love her.

  14. Robert says:

    I wonder if realizing you won’t be cast in front of the camera forever is why so many actors want to be directors? They still get to be creative and in the movie business.

  15. Mimi says:

    Ughhh I love Jamie Lee! I can’t wait for the new Halloween i saw the trailer the other day and I’m so pumped

  16. Sof says:

    I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I really liked Scream Queens! Was so gutted when it got cancelled. We need more shows that don’t take themselves so seriously.

    • Butterflystella says:

      I’m with you! I enjoyed the heck out of that show!

    • Leah says:

      Scream Queens is so much fun, guilty pleasure.

      • CHIMES@MIDNIGHT says:

        I loved Scream Queens and Jamie was absolutely fantastic in it! I seem to remember, although it may have been just rumours, that they were going to do a third season at a summer camp. But then SQ got cancelled so we got American Horror Story 1984 instead.

  17. Courtney B says:

    Lov, love JLC. Ironically since her own turn in Operation Petticoat in the 70s when I was a kid. Lol Love that she has no effs to give. I remember that photo shoot she did where she showed some of the tricks, like her dress being open in the back but clipped so it looked like a smaller size. And that she’s rocked the gray for years IRL. She can just wear wigs in movies. She was fabulous in Knives Out and I love her Twitter banter with her ‘son’ Chris Evans. She wants to play his mom in every movie and he’s all for it!

  18. Granger says:

    She’s a very cool woman. To work in that industry and not get sucked into the never-ending quest to look 25 years younger — that takes someone with a lot of self-confidence, but also someone who’s curious and keeps busy with a lot of outside interests. She’s also in a relationship with a man who might be a rarity in Hollywood — clearly not fussed that his wife is aging normally instead of spending all her money on plastic surgery. That’s got to mean something. I would imagine there are a lot of women in H-wood who are convinced (or know) their husbands will “stray” if they don’t maintain very strict standards of manufactured beauty.