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Catherine Zeta Jones ( "zeeta"; born 25 September 1969) is a Welshmarker 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 Hollywoodmarker movies such as The Phantom, 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 Chicago.

Early life

Born Catherine Zeta Jones in Swanseamarker, South Walesmarker to Patricia (née Fair), an Irish seamstress, and David "Dai" 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).

Zeta-Jones was raised Catholic. After her parents won £100,000 at Parcheesi in the 1980s, they moved to St. Andrews Drive in Mayalsmarker, an upper-class area of Swansea. Jones left the private Dumbarton House School early, to further her acting ambitions without obtaining O levels. She then attended the The Arts Educational Schoolsmarker in Chiswickmarker, West London, for a full-time three-year course in musical theatre.

She claimed to have a severe snoring problem in her teens: "It sounded something like an orchestra. My friends would have to move me to the next room all the time."


Zeta-Jones's stage career began in childhood. She often performed at friends' and family functions, and was part of a Catholic congregation's performing troupe before the age of 10. Zeta-Jones made her professional acting debut when she played the lead in Annie, a production at Swansea Grand Theatremarker, and also starred in a production of Bugsy Malone as Tallulah. When she was 14, Mickey Dolenz stopped by the Grand Theatre to audition her for The Pyjama Game. He was so impressed with her performance that she was offered the opportunity to join his show for the rest of the tour. By 1987 Zeta-Jones was starring in 42nd Street as Peggy Sawyer in the West Endmarker. Zeta-Jones was cast in the leading role after the actress playing Peggy Sawyer and the understudy fell ill. She also played Mae Jones in the Kurt Weill opera Street Scene with the English National Opera at the London Coliseum Theatremarker in 1989. Once the show closed, the actress traveled to France, where she received the lead role in French director Philippe de Broca's 1001 Nights (also known as Sheherazade), 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's 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 some thought her career might suffer because the movie was panned by the critics for poor screenwriting, directing and acting. 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 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. For her role in Chicago, she specifically requested a 1920s-style short bob wig, so her face could be seen and fans would not doubt she did all her dancing herself.

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 Reservationsmarker, 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, she will star in romantic comedy The Rebound in which she plays 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. She will play Lansbury's daughter, Desiree.

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 jewelry.

Personal life

Zeta-Jones is married to actor Michael Douglas, sharing the same birthday, making him exactly 25 years her senior. She claims that when they met, he used the line "I'd like to father your children." They were married at the Plaza Hotelmarker 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 Aberystwythmarker. The couple has two children. Their son, Dylan Michael Douglas (named after Dylan Thomas), was born on 8 August 2000, with Zeta Jones's 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 Neathmarker, Wales. Her younger brother, Lyndon Jones, is her personal manager and producer for Milkwood Films. Zeta-Jones's 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.

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 the charges which took place between October 2003 and May 2004. She was sentenced to three years in prison.

In the media

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. Catherine Spartacus-Zeta-Douglas-Jones alternates between a strong Welsh accent and a strong American accent and uses Welsh-language phrases when she speaks.


Year Film Role Notes
1990 Les 1001 nuits Sheherazade
1991 Out of the Blue Chirsty BBC Television Play
1991-93 The Darling Buds of May Mariette
1992 Christopher Columbus: The Discovery Beatriz
Coup de foudre Unknown
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Daredevils of the Desert Maya
1993 Splitting Heirs Kitty
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Maya
1994 The Cinder Path Victoria Chapman
The Return of the Native Eustacia Vye
1995 Catherine the Great Catherine II
Blue Juice Chloe
1996 The Phantom Sala
Titanic Isabella Paradine TV mini-series
1998 The Mask of Zorro Eléna (De La Vega) Montero Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Female Newcomer

Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Female Performance

Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Fight shared with Antonio Banderas

Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Actress
1999 Entrapment Virginia Baker Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Action

European Film Award - Jameson People's Choice Award - Best European Actress
The Haunting Theo Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Horror
2000 High Fidelity Charlie Nicholson
Traffic Helena Ayala Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actress - Drama

Nominated - Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress

Nominated - Empire Award for Best British Actress

Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
2001 America's Sweethearts Gwen Harrison
2002 Chicago Velma Kelly Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast

Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress

Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress

Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress

Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

Nominated - Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress

Nominated - Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2003 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Marina Voice role
Intolerable Cruelty Marylin Rexroth
2004 The Terminal Amelia Warren
Ocean's Twelve Isabel Lahiri Nominated - Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
2005 The Legend of Zorro Elena de la Vega Murrieta Nominated - People's Choice Award for Favorite Female Action Star
2007 No Reservationsmarker Kate Armstrong
2008 Death Defying Acts Mary McGarvie
2009 The Rebound Sandy


  1. Catherine Zeta Jones biography. Film
  2. Jones, Andy. Catherine talks about what it took to film Zorro. TNT's Roughcut. Reprinted.
  3. "Catherine Zeta-Jones attends grandmothers funeral." Telegraph.
  4. Catherine Zeta-Jones. The Biography
  5. Cheesy chat up line that snagged Catherine Zeta-Jones. The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 July 2007.
  6. Three-year term for Zeta stalker from BBC News Wales
  7. [1]

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