14 February 2018

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (1969) was typecast as the token pretty girl in British films, and therefore relocated to Los Angeles. She established herself in Hollywood with sexy action roles in The Mask of Zorro (1998), Entrapment (1999) and the black comedy Intolerable Cruelty (2003).

Catherine Zeta-Jones
Belgian postcard by Pmagazine in the series 'De 50 mooiste vrouwen van de eeuw!' (the 50 most beautiful women of the century!), no. 3. Photo: Terry Doyle / Outline.

The Darling Buds of May


Catherine Zeta-Jones was born in Swansea in 1969. Her parents were David Jones, the owner of a candy factory, and his wife Patricia (née Fair), a seamstress. In the 1980s, her parents won £100.000 at the game of Bingo and moved to St. Andrews Drive in Mayals, uptown Swansea.

Because Zeta-Jones was a hyperactive child, her mother sent her to the Hazel Johnson School of Dance when she was four years old. Zeta-Jones participated in school stage shows from a young age and gained local media attention when her rendition of a Shirley Bassey song won a Junior Star Trail talent competition.

As a child, she played roles in the West End productions of the musicals Annie and Bugsy Malone. When she was 15, Zeta-Jones dropped out of school and decided to live in London to pursue a full-time acting career. She studied musical theatre at the Arts Educational Schools, London.

When she was 17 years old, she made her stage breakthrough with a leading role in a 1987 production of 42nd Street. Her next stage appearance was with the English National Opera at the London Coliseum in 1989 where she played Mae Jones in Kurt Weill's Street Scene.

Her screen debut came in the unsuccessful French-Italian film 1001 Nights (Philippe de Broca, 1990), as Sheherezade opposite Thierry Lhermitte. She had greater success as a regular in the British television series The Darling Buds of May (1991–1993).

Following a brief appearance as Beatriz Enríquez de Arana in the unsuccessful adventure film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (John Glen, 1992), Zeta-Jones featured as a belly dancer in disguise in an episode of George Lucas' television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992).

She next took on the part of an aspiring duchess in the farcical period drama Splitting Heirs (Robert Young, 1993), about two children (Eric Idle and Rick Moranis) who are separated at birth. She then starred as the pragmatic girlfriend of Sean Pertwee's character in the surf film Blue Juice (Carl Prechezer, 1995). Dismayed at being typecast as the token pretty girl in British films, Zeta-Jones relocated to Los Angeles.

Catherine Zeta-Jones
British postcard by Heroes Publishing Ltd., London, no. SPC 3491.

Happy birthday, Antonio Banderas!
German postcard by Memory Cards, no. 495. Photo: publicity still for The Mask of Zorro (Martin Campbell, 1998), with Antonio Banderas.

The Mask of Zorro


Catherine Zeta-Jones initially established herself in Hollywood with roles that highlighted her sex appeal such as in the action film The Mask of Zorro (Martin Campbell, 1998) opposite Antonio Banderas, and the heist film Entrapment (Jon Amiel, 1999), in which she starred opposite Sean Connery as a seductive insurance agent on the lookout for an art thief.

Critics praised her portrayal of a vengeful pregnant woman in Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 2000) and a murderous singer in the musical Chicago (Rob Marshall, 2002). For the first she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. The latter won her Academy and BAFTA Awards for Best Supporting Actress, among other accolades.

In 2003, Zeta-Jones played alongside George Clooney in the Coen Brothers' black comedy Intolerable Cruelty. It was a commercial success.

She starred in high-profile films for much of the decade, including the heist film Ocean's Twelve (Steven Soderbergh, 2004), the comedy The Terminal (Steven Spielberg, 2004), and the romantic comedy No Reservations (Scott Hicks, 2007).

Parts in smaller-scale features were followed by a decrease in workload, during which she returned to stage and portrayed an ageing actress in A Little Night Music (2009), winning a Tony Award.

Zeta-Jones continued to work intermittently in the 2010s, starring in the psychological thriller Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh, 2013) and the action film Red 2 (Dean Parisot, 2013). Zeta-Jones is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award and a Tony Award, and in 2010 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her film and humanitarian endeavours. She supports various charities and causes, and is a prominent celebrity endorser of brands.

Her struggle with depression and bipolar II disorder has been well documented by the media. She was married to American actor Michael Douglas with whom she has two children.

Catherine Zeta-Jones was last seen in the cinemas with Toby Jones and Michael Gambon in the British comedy Dad's Army (Oliver Parker, 2016), based on the legendary TV series.

Catherine Zeta-Jones
British postcard by Pyramid, Leicester, no. PC 2090, 1999.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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