Their picture-perfect wedding 46 years ago yielded public bliss, private woes, and daughter Jamie Lee Curtis
By showbiz standards, the wedding seemed refreshingly real. The best man arrived an hour late; a small-town judge officiated; the bride and groom even used their real names on the license when Bernard Schwartz, 26, and Jeanette Morrison Reames, 23 — a.k.a. Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh — took their vows (she for the third time, he for the first) at a spur-of-the-moment ceremony on June 4, 1951, in Greenwich, Conn.
Soon after, however, Hollywood’s image machinery took over again. Curtis (The Sweet Smell of Success) and Leigh (Touch of Evil) would pose gorgeously for photos with daughters Kelly, born in 1956, and Jamie Lee, born in 1958. Behind the crowd-pleasing smiles, though, lay conflict. ”Sure, Tony and I have our fights,” admitted Leigh in 1953. ”But it’s never serious…. If any couple is in love, they’ll have a happy marriage and no amount of gossip will ever break it up.”
Indeed, gossip wasn’t why Curtis moved out in March 1962. At the time, Leigh blamed the split instead on ”outside problems,” such as the death of Curtis’ father. Another factor may have been Curtis’ battle with drugs. (He is currently drug free.) Whatever the cause, they divorced in September and were both remarried within a year. Leigh is still married to stockbroker Bob Brandt; Curtis has wed and divorced three more times.
Daughter Jamie Lee Curtis who screamed as operatically in 1978’s Halloween as her mother had in Psycho, and whose comic flair in 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda rivaled her father’s screwball antics in Some Like It Hot — is now in the 13th year of her own ”difficult but successful” Hollywood marriage, to actor/writer Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman), 51. (It is the first for each, and they have two children, Annie, 11, and Tom, 1.) ”Show business does wreak havoc on personal lives,” Jamie Lee, 38, has said. ”You’re working in a very sexually charged environment in close quarters, and people get very confused about what’s real and what’s fake.”
JUNE 4, 1951
As TV begins to take off, RCA, developer of the first three-color television tube, agrees to comply with an FCC directive to show the device to rival CBS, which has been using a spinning filter disc to capture its own shows in color. Eventually, of course, the tube wins out. In the music world, Pete Seeger scores a No. 2 hit with future campfire fave ”On Top of Old Smokey.” The folkster later garners a Grammy for his 1996 album, Pete. Readers get swept up in James Jones’ best-selling WWII novel From Here to Eternity, the inspiration for the 1953 film that would win eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr (left) don’t clinch Oscars, but co-stars Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed do. And in the real world, Senator Edwin C. Johnson criticizes the FCC’s plan for expanding broadcasting into UHF channels — soon to be home of schlock movies and Gilligan’s Island reruns.