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Catherine Zeta-Jones Biography

Catherine Zeta-Jones hails from Mumbles, Wales (a tiny fishing village just outside Swansea in the UK), where she was born on September 25, 1969. Her name stems from two different grandmothers; one grandmother is named Catherine, while the other is "Zeta," named after a ship that Catherine's grandfather sailed on.

catherine zeta-jones does musicals

Although Catherine was not known in the U.S. until her role in The Mask of Zorro in 1998, she was a well-known star in her native UK. Catherine played the lead in a production of the musical Annie at age 11, and starred in a West End production of Bugsy Malone two years later.

At age 17, Catherine nabbed the lead role in 42nd Street after having moved to London in order to pursue an acting career. Once the show closed, Zeta-Jones traveled to France, where she received the lead role in French director Phillippe De Broca's 1001 Nights (1990), her feature film debut.

Catherine's big break came upon her return to England in 1991, when she became a regular on the hugely popular British television series The Darling Buds of May. Her role as the eldest daughter of a farm family increased her star status in the UK, which of course, led to her becoming a tabloid favorite, becoming constantly hounded by the paparazzi. Once the intrusiveness of the media became unbearable, Catherine decided to take her life and career across the Atlantic.

catherine in titanic

Although a sex symbol and celebrity in the UK (she even dabbled in music, releasing an album in the UK in the early '90s), it took a while for Catherine to break into the Hollywood scene. In 1994, she landed the lead role in CBS' Return of the Native, and gave a remarkable performance in her role as "Catherine" in the miniseries Catherine the Great.

It wasn't until Catherine's role in the four-hour television docudrama Titanic -- one year before Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starred in the big-screen version of the film -- that Americans would soon learn why she was famous across the pond.

zeta-jones in the mask of zorro

Steven Spielberg noticed her in the miniseries and thought she'd be perfect for the female lead in The Mask of Zorro (1998), which he was producing. Spielberg knew what he was talking about, and he wasn't the only one who was impressed; audiences and critics liked what they saw in the role opposite Antonio Banderas. Audiences probably wondered where this beauty popped up from, since they had never before heard of the Welsh star, who was often mistaken for Spanish.

At the 1998 Oscars, Catherine stood out on the red carpet, looking ravishing. If she wasn't yet noticed after The Mask of Zorro, her appearance at the Oscars turned heads.

In the summer of 1999, Catherine Zeta-Jones appeared opposite Sean Connery in the summer action film Entrapment. That same summer, Catherine also took on the role of Theo in The Haunting, Dreamworks' adaptation of the 1963 horror of the same name, joining cast members Liam Neeson and Lili Taylor.

catherine and michael douglas marry

Actor Michael Douglas first met Catherine at the Deauville Film Festival, and apparently told her that he wanted to father her children during their first date. This claim turned into a premonition when the couple had their first child, Dylan Michael, in August 2000.

The couple married in New York's famed Plaza Hotel in November 2000; apparently, Catherine arrived 10 minutes late, as a result of being held up by her troop of security guards. Their wedding made headlines again in 2002, when the power couple sued Hello! magazine for $815,000, for breach of security to get wedding shots and for publishing the poor quality, unauthorized photos. They won the suit and were awarded $26,000.

catherine zeta-jones stops traffic

After appearances in High Fidelity, starring John Cusack, and Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning Traffic (both in 2000), Catherine reunited with Cusack for America's Sweethearts in 2001, which also starred Julia Roberts. Though her role in Traffic made Hollywood take notice of her solid acting chops, it was Catherine's training in singing and dance that would help land the Welsh beauty her first Oscar.

In 2002, Catherine sang and danced her way to the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the musical Chicago. And though an Oscar is always a great reward for hard work, her $8 million paycheck for the film didn't hurt.

catherine zeta-jones becomes a mega-star

Following her Oscar win, Catherine kept her face in the public eye with a series of high-profile projects on and off the silver screen.Firstly she starred in 2003's Intolerable Cruelty, with George Clooney, then moved onto the Steven Spielberg's romantic comedy The Terminal and the celeb-fest heist flick Ocean's Twelve (both released in 2004). Catherine finished out her post-Oscar film sprint by reprising her role Elena alongside Antonio Banderas in The Legend of Zorro (2005).

Besides her film work, Catherine Zeta-Jones also became the spokesperson for T-Mobile International, a leading global wireless service provider, as well as the face of cosmetics giant, Elizabeth Arden.

On the family front, she has built a seaside dream home in her hometown, determined that her children (Dylan Michael and daughter Carys) grow up aware of their Welsh heritage.

catherine zeta-jones: businesswoman

Although Catherine continues to work in the film industry as an actress -- such as in 2007's No Reservations and Death Defying Acts -- the real highlight of her future work will come as the owner of her production company, Milkwood Films. Her first movie as an exec. and an actress is 2007's Coming Out, a comedy about a struggling Welsh rugby team who takes on a cabaret singer as their coach.


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