Catherine Zeta Jones biography

Catherine Zeta Jones

Last updated: 14 June 2010

Catherine Zeta Jones began her career on stage at an early age, and starred in a number of television roles before breaking into Hollywood.

She was born in Mumbles, Swansea, on 25 September 1969. Her father David (Dai) Jones owned a Welsh sweet factory, and her mother Patricia was an Irish seamstress.

Her name comes from her grandmothers; her maternal grandmother was Catherine Fair, and on her father's side Zeta Jones. The name Zeta is of Greek origin.

She made her acting debut as a child, playing the lead in Annie at Swansea's Grand Theatre. She also starred in a production of Bugsy Malone, and at 14 impressed Mickey Dolenz when he auditioned her for a role in The Pyjama Game. Dolenz gave her the opportunity to join the show for the rest of its tour.

Zeta Jones was educated at Dumbarton School in Swansea, but left early to focus on her acting. She attended the Arts Educational School in Chiswick to study musical theatre for three years.

By 1987 she was starring in London's West End, playing the role of Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street. She also played Mae Jones in Kurt Weill's opera Street Scene in 1989, working with English National Opera at the London Coliseum.

After Street Scene she took the lead role in Philippe de Broca's 1001 Nights, which became her first role in a feature film.

In the UK she rose to prominence after being cast as Mariette Larkin in ITV's 1991 television adaptation of HE Bates' The Darling Buds Of May, where she worked alongside David Jason and Pam Ferris.

The following year she appeared on an album, Jeff Wayne's Musical Musical Version Of Spartacus, and later released the singles In The Arms Of Love, I Can't Help Myself and True Love Ways - a duet with David Essex.

Further acting roles included an appearance in an episode of the US television series The Young Indiana Chronicles, the 1992 film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, and the following year's Splitting Heirs. Further television appearances included The Return Of The Native (1994) and Catherine The Great (1995), for which she played the lead role of Catherine II of Russia.

Steven Spielberg noted her performance in the CBS mini series Titanic, and recommended her to Martin Campbell, the director of the 1998 film The Mask Of Zorro. It proved a breakthrough role; the critically-acclaimed Zeta Jones was cast as Eléna Montero, starring alongside Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. A sequel, The Legend Of Zorro, followed in 2005.

In 1999 she co-starred with Sean Connery in Entrapment, and alongside Liam Neeson in The Haunting. The following year she appeared in Traffic with her future husband Michael Douglas. Zeta Jones was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, in the category Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.

Further success came with her portrayal of Velma Kelly in Chicago (2002). Her performance won her widespread praise, and she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

The following year she voiced Marina in Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas, and starring with George Clooney in the Coen Brothers' Intolerable Cruelty. In 2004 her profile was raised even higher with appearances in The Terminal and Ocean's Twelve. Since then her acting career has gone from strength to strength, and with Michael Douglas she is half of one of Hollywood's most powerful couples.

Zeta Jones married Douglas at the New York Plaza hotel on 18 November 2000. Guests included Anthony Hopkins, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery and Michael Caine. A traditional Welsh choir, Côr Cymraeg Rehoboth, sang at their wedding, and her gold wedding ring was purchased in Aberystwyth.

A son, Dylan Michael Douglas, was born on 8 August 2001, and a daughter, Carys Zeta Douglas, followed on 20 April 2003. Although the family lives mainly in Bermuda, they regularly visit Zeta Jones' family in Swansea.

It was announced in September 2009 that she would make her Broadway debut in December 2009 in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Zeta Jones starred as Desiree Armfeldt, alongside stage and screen veteran Angela Lansbury and under the direction of Trevor Nunn.

In May 2010 she was nominated for a Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a musical for her role in the Broadway hit.

In June she was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, and is to receive a CBE for services to the film industry and to charity.

The same month saw her scoop the prestigious Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a musical, beating fellow actors Kate Baldwin, Montego Glover, Christiane Noll and Sherie Rene Scott to the prize.


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