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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
High drama of cinema's golden couple
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones
Michael Douglas got his first break in a 1970s cop show
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas both testified in a Los Angeles court on Wednesday over death threats Zeta Jones received from a woman charged with stalking the Welsh star.

The stalking case is the latest drama to beset Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas were an item, who became Hollywood hot property when they announced they were an item.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Superior Court's preliminary hearing was packed with press as Zeta Jones, 35, said she had received letters from Dawnette Knight, 32, in which she said she would chop her into pieces.

Knight is pleading not guilty to the 25 charges of making criminal threats and stalking, which allegedly included phone calls to an Amsterdam hotel Zeta Jones was staying in while filming the crime caper sequel Ocean's 12.

The couple's latest court appearance comes months after they won 3m costs from Hello magazine over a high-profile privacy case launched over their fairy-tale wedding.

Douglas, 25 years older than his wife, met Zeta Jones in 1999 at a French film festival - and by late summer they were hitting headlines as a couple.

Banned photos

He reportedly wooed her with the line: "I want to be the father of your children", and she agreed to a dinner invitation in Los Angeles.

By the time they married in November 2000, interest in them had reached fever pitch.

But they were determined to keep the world's press out of their star-studded ceremony at New York's Plaza hotel, and even banned wedding guests from taking their own photos.

Dawnette Knight
Dawnette Knight has said she is sorry for any "distress"

The couple signed a 1m deal with celebrity magazine OK! to publish exclusive photographs of the event.

Despite this, journalists and photographers from around the globe gathered outside the hotel, desperate for a glimpse of the couple and their guests. It was an A-list occasion, with producer Quincy Jones, director Oliver Stone, and movie stars Goldie Hawn, Danny De Vito, Ellen Barkin and James Woods attending.

Kirk Douglas, the father of the groom, gave his blessing to the nuptials, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also turned up for the ceremony with his wife Nane.

Hollywood elite

Zeta Jones and Douglas racked up a huge amount of column inches, and cynics began to talk of Zeta Jones' speedy rise to the ranks of the Hollywood A-list.

But behind her sudden elevation lay a fierce ambition to thrive among the Hollywood elite.

From ordinary beginnings in Swansea, the daughter of a former factory worker, she showed early talent as a dancer and singer.

Aged just 15, she starred in the musical 42nd Street and went on to nationwide recognition through her TV role as Mariette Larkin in ITV's 1990s drama The Darling Buds Of May.

Catherine Zeta Jones
Zeta Jones' performance in Chicago has been lauded
On the big screen she appeared in the Mask of Zorro alongside fellow Welsh star Sir Anthony Hopkins, and with Sir Sean Connery in Entrapment.

She went on to hone her craft in films such as High Fidelity and Traffic, before striking gold with the film musical Chicago.

Her portrayal of the vampish Velma Kelly earned her a wealth of critical plaudits and a best actress accolade at the Evening Standard Film Awards.

Long before marrying into Hollywood royalty, Zeta Jones had a string of admirers including John Leslie, singer Mick Hucknall and Braveheart star Angus McFadyen.

'Gladiator'

Like his bride-to-be, Douglas received his big break not in films but through television.

It came with his performance as detective Steve Keller opposite Karl Malden in police drama The Streets Of San Francisco.

That was in 1972 - when his future wife was still just a toddler in south Wales.

As the son of accomplished Hollywood actor Kirk, Douglas saw his father as a "gladiator" and feared he could never emulate his success.

After a period living in a commune and dabbling in drugs, he dropped out of university and took a job as a petrol station attendant.

Traffic
Zeta Jones starred with her husband in Traffic

He later went back to college to study acting, although his father never believed he would make it.

He enjoyed his first major film success as a producer of the Oscar-winning 1975 film One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

As an actor Douglas would become every bit as successful as his father, with memorable roles in Romancing The Stone, Fatal Attraction, and his Oscar-winning performance as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

Playmate

More recently he has enjoyed critical acclaim for his acting in Wonder Boys, and Traffic in which he starred opposite Zeta Jones.

The cynics who begrudged Zeta Jones' success also said the marriage would not last - but it appears to be going from strength to strength.

In April last year Zeta Jones gave birth to a daughter, Carys, a playmate for two-year-old Dylan.

Kirk Douglas
Michael is the son of Kirk Douglas

Their image in the UK has taken a battering over the Hello case, with London-based tabloids dubbing Zeta Jones a "whinger".

But in the US the case went largely unreported as the pair continue to reign as Hollywood's golden couple.

Late last year the couple bought a new 1m house in Wales, near Zeta Jones' native Swansea.



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SEE ALSO:
Zeta 'stalker' is held in custody
17 Jun 04  |  Americas


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