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The Ups And Downs Of Jamie Lee Curtis's Relationship With Her Mother, Janet Leigh  

Jodi Smith
11.8k views 11 items

Jamie Lee Curtis and her legendary mom, the late Janet Leigh, both made their names in Hollywood with roles as Scream Queens, in 1978's Halloween and 1960's Psycho, respectively. Some might assume their common interests in acting, similar career paths, and shared genes would result in a picture-perfect relationship between mother and daughter. Although their relationship wasn't quite as fraught as the one between Curtis and her father, Tony Curtis, it certainly had its less-than-stellar moments. 

Through years of turmoil, happiness, and calm, Curtis and her mother shared moments together that shaped both of their lives forever, leaving lasting marks on the people they became personally and professionally.

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Photo: Don Ornitz/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Janet Leigh Had Trouble With Jamie Lee Curtis’s 2002 Body Positive Article 'True Thighs'

Janet Leigh worked in Hollywood during a time when an actress's face and body were her primary tools for staying in the business. Leigh took her figure very seriously, returning to a slim 20-inch waist quickly after both of her pregnancies. When age began to change her body in irreversible ways, Leigh became upset.

Jamie Lee Curtis, on the other hand, has embraced her changing shape as she ages, pushing away her one-time nickname of The Body and reveling in her new curves. In 2002, she posed for the cover of More magazine at age 43 in her underwear, without any makeup, help from stylists, or photography tricks. An accompanying article was titled "True Thighs." 

In 2010, for another story in More, Curtis said she made the bold move to push back not only against societal norms, but also her mother's fixations:

Our dissatisfaction with what we look like has reached epidemic proportions. Just look around you: People don’t look right. Lips, eyes, hair, weaves, implants. It is a freak show being fed by the business it generates, a modern-day Surgical Industrial Complex. I’m sure my appearing without the usual styling and makeup tricks in this magazine, in the 2002 article I titled "True Thighs," was my... way of saving myself from the same fate. By acknowledging my own changing body, I rebelled against my mother’s fear of it. I know the article and the attention it got were difficult for her.

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Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock.om
Leigh Joined Curtis To Celebrate Her Hollywood Walk Of Fame Star In '98

Through the ups and downs of their mother-daughter relationship, Curtis and Leigh always showed up for each other during career highs.

When Curtis received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998, her husband, Christopher Guest, daughter Annie, and Leigh were by her side. 

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Photo: Lawrence Schiller/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Curtis Said Leigh Was Always There For Her, But There Was No Intimacy In Their Relationship

Born on November 22, 1958, to famous parents Leigh and actor Tony Curtis, Curtis calls herself a "save-the-marriage baby" that failed. Her parents split in 1962 and her father became distant as he moved through several new wives over the course of his life. Curtis stayed with her mother and gained a new father in Leigh's new husband Robert Brandt.

While her relationship with her father was rocky and on-and-off for decades, she remained close to, yet distant, from her mother. Curtis told More magazine

She took good care of me, my needs were always met and she showed up to everything, but there was no real intimacy. I think it was a generational issue as much as one of her own making, for many people my age have expressed a lack of connection with their parents.

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Photo:  Dimension Films
Leigh Makes A Cameo In ‘Halloween H20’

In 1998, screenwriter Kevin Williamson teamed up with Curtis to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film that made her a Scream Queen: Halloween.

Called Halloween: H20, the new film catches up with a grown Laurie Strode (Curtis), who works as the headmistress of a boarding school. Strode has a new name and a teenage son, but still suffers from the distress she endured at the hands of Michael Myers 20 years earlier. When Myers breaks free again and heads to the school to confront Strode, she has to gather her strength to fight back.

The film not only celebrated Curtis's big break in Hollywood, but also allowed mother and daughter to work together. Leigh took a small role as a secretary in the film, even paying homage to her Psycho role by driving the same car Marion Crane had in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film.

Curtis spoke to the Los Angeles Times about working with her mom on the film: "Two women, iconographically recognized in this genre, who happen to be mother and daughter - it was completely delicious."