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Last Updated:  Friday, 11 April, 2003, 11:19 GMT 12:19 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 have won damages against Hello! magazine for publishing "surreptitious" photographs of their wedding in New York in November 2000. BBC News Online looks at their lives in the spotlight.

As soon as the press found out that Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas were an item, they became hot property.

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

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.

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.

Catherine Zeta Jones
Zeta Jones' performance in Chicago has been lauded
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.

Traffic
Zeta Jones starred with her husband in Traffic
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.

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

Kirk Douglas
Michael is the son of Kirk Douglas
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 October last year the couple announced they were expecting a second child in the spring, a playmate for two-year-old Dylan.

They are also set to work together on the film Monkeyface, allowing them to avoid the pitfalls of movie couples who spend much of their time filming in different continents.

Their image in the UK has taken a a battering since the court case was launched, 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.

Los Angeles Times writer Gina Piccalo told BBC News Online: "News of the lawsuit is rare here, as people are more enthralled by her Oscar win and her pregnancy.

"Among those in the Beverly Hills set, the Douglas clan is considered a type of royalty. Consequently, folks in this privileged group are quick to sympathise with them."




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