Jamie Lee Curtis Dedicates Her Oscar Win to Her Jewish Dad – Kveller
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Jamie Lee Curtis Dedicates Her Oscar Win to Her Jewish Dad

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Jamie Lee Curtis, winner of Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ poses in the press room during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Ovation Hollywood on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California.

via Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis, a total gem of a human, just won her first Oscar this past Sunday for her role as Deirdre in the excellent “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

Taking the stage, the actress, who is known for being an avid cheerleader for all her collaborators, said, “I know it looks like I am standing up here by myself, but I am not — I am hundreds of people.” She thanked the cast, the crew and every person who supported the “genre” movies she makes. She started getting emotional when she mentioned her husband, Christopher Guest, who was looking at her lovingly from the crowd, and her two daughters and sister.

Yet Curtis, 64, ended up dedicating the award to “my mother and my father,” who “were both nominated for Oscars in different categories.” Eyes brimming with tears, she looked up as if to tell her late parents personally: “I just won an Oscar.”

Curtis’ mother, Janet Leigh, was nominated for the same category her daughter won, best supporting actress, for her role as Marion Crane in “Psycho” in 1961 (like her mother, Curtis is known for a thriller and horror franchise, “Halloween”).

As for Curtis’ Jewish father, legendary actor Tony Curtis, he was nominated for best actor for his role in “The Defiant Ones” in 1959.

But Curtis didn’t just mention her father on that podium.

Later, at the Oscars’ press panel, she was asked a question by a Hungarian reporter. It was a funny moment, but also an opportunity for her to pay tribute to her father’s Hungarian ancestry.


When Curtis was told she was going to answer questions from the Oscars virtual press room, Curtis lamented that “virtual people don’t get shit — they don’t get food, they don’t get water, they’re at home, their kids are screaming, their husband’s cheating on them, they are so bummed out, they want to be here with you people so bad.”

The person running the press panel then introduced the virtual reporter as Aniko from Hungary  — “Hungary, of course, the country of my family, of course, Tony Curtis came from Hungary,” Curtis interjected.

Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz and only spoke Hungarian for the first five years of his life. He was the son of Hungarian immigrants, Emanuel and Helen Schwartz, from Mateszalka, Hungary. The town’s Jewish population was decimated by the Holocaust; Curtis has helped rebuild the town’s synagogue and turn it into the Tony Curtis Memorial Museum.

Curtis was surprised to hear Aniko’s voice — she hadn’t realized the journalist would call in, believing the virtual questions would come in the form tweets; Curtis then asked Aniko and the rest of the crowd not to cancel her for insinuating that her husband was cheating on her. “I cannot handle it if you cancel me now, you can cancel me tomorrow,” she beseeched, apologizing for the assumption.

Aniko relieved Curtis’ concerns by telling her she had plenty of food — and no husband.

“Can we consider this at least a semi-Hungarian Oscar?” Aniko then asked.

“Oh yeah, the lower half,” Curtis jokingly replied.

When the journalist asked Curtis how Hungarian she was, she joked that that was a “very personal question,” but then started singing a Hungarian children’s song, “Katica, katica, felmászott a fára,” which means “ladybug, ladybug, climbing up a tree.” This appears to be a variation on the popular Hungarian children’s song “Mókuska,” which is actually about a squirrel climbing a tree (I like ladybug more!).

“I love my Hungarian heritage,” Curtis added.

When asked about gender parity at the Oscars, Curtis also talked about how having a trans daughter has changed the way she thinks about binary options at award shows: “The bigger question is, how do you include everyone when there are binary choices, which is very difficult — and, as the mother of a trans daughter, I completely understand that.”

Curtis says she learned from her parents’ and her own experiences with disappointment about not winning awards. “I’ve lost more than I’ve won, it feels… it’s not a great feeling,” she told People at the Oscars luncheon last month, to which she wore a pearl necklace given to her by her Jewish godparents, Lew and Eddie Wasserman — in honor of the Wassermans and her parents.

“I often like to bring all the nominees in my category a gold shiny ball so that when you lose, you’re not going home empty-handed,” she told People.

Well, Curtis definitely didn’t go home empty-handed last night. When asked if she thinks her parents are looking down at her, beaming with pride, Curtis gave a beautiful answer:

“I don’t believe in a world where there are a bunch of people looking down at us,” Curtis revealed. “I think we are them in our actions and in our deeds and in our ideas, and then we build our own, and then we give them to our children. I am a product of them, and I am a proud product of them — I know that they would be incredibly proud of me,” she said.

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