Catherine Zeta Jones (pronounced
/ˈziːtə/ "zeeta"; born 25 September 1969), now hyphenated as Catherine
Zeta-Jones, is a Welsh 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 Hollywood 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.
She was born Catherine Zeta Jones in Swansea, South Wales 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 Bingo in
the 1980s, they moved to St. Andrews Drive in Mayals, a middle 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 Schools in Chiswick, West London, for a full-time
three-year course in musical theatre.
Catherine 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 Theatre, 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 End. 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 Theatre in 1989. Once the show closed, the
actress traveled to France, where she received the lead role in French
director Philippe de Broca's Les 1001 Nuits (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
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 Reservations, 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, Zeta-Jones stars 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,
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.
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 Hotel 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
Aberystwyth. They have 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 Neath, 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 to the offenses
which took place between October 2003 and May 2004. She was sentenced to
three years in prison.
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.
Zeta-Jones is also parodied in the BBC's The Impressions Show with Culshaw
and Stephenson by Debra Stephenson reading Beauty and the Beast also
alternating between strong Welsh and American accents.
"I used to go around looking
as frumpy as possible because it was inconceivable you could be
attractive as well as be smart. It wasn't until I started being
myself, the way I like to turn out to meet people, that I started to
get any work."
"I like women who look like women. I hated grunge. No one's more
feminist than me, but you don't have to look as if you don't give a
- you know. You can be smart, bright, and attractive aesthetically
to others - and to yourself."
"In Wales it's brilliant. I go to the pub and see everybody who I
went to school with. And everybody goes "So what you doing now?" And
I go, "Oh, I'm doing a film with Antonio Banderas and Anthony
Hopkins." And they go, "Ooh, good." And that's it."
After Scottish actor Sean Connery presented her with the Oscar: "A
Scotsman giving a Welsh girl an Oscar - oh my God!"
"After Zorro, people spoke Spanish to me for ages. I'm Welsh but
that movie instantly gave me a new ethnicity."
"For marriage to be a success, every woman and every man should have
her and his own bathroom. The end."
[On her duel/strip scene from "The Mask of Zorro"]: "I kept thinking
'Thank God I have long hair in this movie'."
"This film holds a lot of meaning to me, both professionally and
personally. I actually met my husband when I was promoting the film
in Deauville, France, and it was such an amazing time for me, being
completely unknown, really, in America or in Mexico, where I shot
the first one. It's a very important film for me and it's very close
to my heart." [on 'Mask of Zorro, The']
"I wish I was born in that era: dancing with Fred Astaire and Gene
Kelly, going to work at the studio dressed in beautiful pants, head
scarves, and sunglasses."
"Did I want this role? That's like saying did I want to wake up in
the morning wanting to breath!" on landing the part of Velma Kelly
"I do think I'm lucky I met Michael. Not just Michael Douglas the
actor and producer with two Oscars on the shelf, but Michael Douglas
the love of my life. I really do think it was meant to happen."
I like to feel sexy. I know my husband thinks I'm sexy. I think he
is too. But I don't go out half-naked with 'sex' written across my
Humor and that wonderful word called 'charisma.' You cannot
translate it. I can't nail it on the head, other than to just say
that I'm completely over the top about my husband. - on what makes a
Yes, I was in love with my husband at first sight and still am. We
have the most solid relationship.
"I don't go into the triple-X sites. I'm certainly not going to pay
money to see myself naked, when I can just go into the bathroom and
whip it off for free." -speaking on the Internet and its fascination
with celebrities and porno