Actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her mother actress Janet Leigh pose for a portrait session in 1979 in Los Angeles, California.
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Jamie Lee Curtis Learned Valuable Lessons From Her Mother, Hollywood Legend Janet Leigh

This weekend (March 12), Jamie Lee Curtis will compete for Best Supporting Actress at the 95th annual Academy Awards. Curtis, who earned a nod for her role in the delightfully mind-bending sci-fi adventure film Everything Everywhere All At Once, is celebrating the first Oscar nomination in her astonishing 40+ year career. But, as she'll be the first to tell you, acting is in her blood.

Curtis, who recently joked about her "nepo baby" status at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, is one of the many actors who were raised by Hollywood royalty. Her mother, actress Janet Leigh, was immortalized after starring in Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film, Psycho. Her father, Tony Curtis, is known for starring in films like Sweet Smell of Success and The Defiant Ones. Unfortunately, the relationship between Janet and Tony was suffering by the time Jamie Lee was born and their marriage quickly fell apart.

Janet Leigh from the 1960 film Psycho and Jamie Lee Curtis from the 1978 horror film Halloween.

Janet Leigh from the 1960 film Psycho and Jamie Lee Curtis from the 1978 horror film Halloween. Getty Images.

"By the time I came along, following my sister, Kelly, by two and a half years, my parents' bond had deteriorated precipitously as their stardom grew," Jamie Lee explained to MORE.

"And like any other save-the-marriage baby, I failed. Janet suffered public embarrassment as Tony chose a 17-year-old replacement, a German actress with whom he was working, and she felt the slings and arrows of tabloid gossip and innuendo.  She told me that she did the memorable scene on the train in The Manchurian Candidate the day she found out that Tony had filed for divorce."

(L-R) Kelly Lee Curtis, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Jamie Lee Curtis at home in Hollywood.

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Ultimately, Janet and Tony were married for 11 years and starred in numerous films together including Houdini, The Vikings, Who Was That Lady? and The Black Shield of Falworth. Despite the fact that her parents ended things when she was so young, Jamie still had a great example for a strong marriage as "my mother and stepfather [Robert Brandt] were married for 43 years, so I had a very good role model for that," she explained.

"I'm still married to my first husband [actor and filmmaker Christopher Guest], and we proudly have two beautiful children," the actress gushed.

In fact, Curtis has credited her marriage of over 35 years to the fact that she married her complete opposite. The couple married after a quick courtship and happily raised their two adopted daughters, Annie and Ruby, in California.

"He's an intellectual, and I was from the movie star/alcoholic/drug addict side, where ­education was not the most important thing," she explained to Good Housekeeping. "We don't listen to the same radio station, we don't read the same paper, we don't go to bed at the same time."

Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis during LA Tennis Tournament in Los Angeles, California, United States.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

But they are both willing to put in the work. Jamie Lee explains that she references one of the phrases she learned in her addiction recovery and it seems like there's some serious truth to it. Not only is her marriage better than ever, but she's been sober since 1999.

"Don't leave. There's a recovery phrase that says, 'Stay on the bus...the scenery will change.' You think you're having a bad week, but stay on the bus, because one of these days you'll look out the window and it'll be beautiful. I think it can apply to almost anything where you feel unhappy in that moment. I'm not a wild romantic. I'm a realist. I respect him. And I just don't leave."

But Jamie Lee learned some important career lessons from her mother as well. Janet Leigh appeared in much more than just the iconic shower scene in Psycho, though the role earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Oscars. She starred in countless incredible films like Bye Bye Birdie,  Orson Welles' film noir Touch of Evil, Little Women, Angels in the Outfield, Harper, Night of the Lepus, Holiday Affair, The Naked Spur, The Perfect Furlough, The Romance of Rosy Ridge, Safari, Scaramouche, Act of Violence, Prince Valiant, Pete Kelly's Blues, My Sister Eileen, Hills of Home, Rogue Cop, Two Tickets to Broadway, and many more.

She even appeared opposite her daughter in John Carpenter's The Fog and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. As a result of her mother's example, daughter Jamie Lee Curtis grew up to also be a box office sensation. She's the first to admit that she wasn't a stellar student in school, but it seems her time on film sets as a child paid off. She's a Golden Globe winner, an Emmy nominee, and even has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"One of the great benefits of being the daughter of great film I had the opportunity to watch them play the game," Jamie Lee said at the ICG Publicists Awards in [Los Angeles]. "Their example was crucial."

Editor's Note: This article previously ran in 2021. It was updated on March 10, 2023. 

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