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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 14:17 GMT
Douglas and Zeta Jones to marry
The couple could marry in south Wales
Hollywood star Michael Douglas and Welsh actress Catherine Zeta Jones are to marry, they have confirmed.

The 55-year-old actor, who spent Christmas with Zeta Jones, 30, in Wales, made the announcement on his official website.

He said: "I am very happy to announce that I am engaged to Catherine Zeta Jones."

The couple have been together since March 1999
He added he popped the question as the couple celebrated the year 2000 at his home in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

"I proposed to Catherine on New Year's Eve, at my house in Aspen," he said.

No date has yet been set for the wedding.

Until now, the couple had always denied persistent reports they were engaged and last month they denied a British tabloid reports that their romance was on the rocks.

It was said they were spending Christmas apart, until reporters discovered Douglas had joined her family for a meal at a restaurant in Swansea, near their home in Mumbles, on the south Wales coast.

Speculation is rife that the wedding could take place at her family's local place of worship, Clyne Chapel.

Catherine Zeta Jones: Douglas proposed to her at his home in Colorado
The 200-seat chapel was built in the 1900s by wealthy industrialists who bequeathed it to the Church of Wales, which allows divorcees to remarry.

But the local parson, the Rev George Bennett, said: "I am sure there is a lot of speculation, but there is no news at the moment about where the wedding would be.

"I have not had any approaches from the couple but, of course, I will be happy to talk to them if they so wish."

Zeta Jones' father Dai declined to comment on the news. The 53-year-old former sweet wholesaler now helps manage his daughter's career.

Michael Douglas is eligible for a church wedding under the Church of Wales
While there is a 25-year age gap between them, they both share the same birthday of 25 September.

The couple met at the Deauville Film Festival in France in August 1998 and have been together since March 1999.

Zeta Jones recently starred opposite Sean Connery in the action thriller Entrapment.

After a number of stage roles, she shot to fame in the UK in 1991 playing Mariette Larkin in the ITV drama The Darling Buds of May, which was based on the novels by HE Bates.

The show's success combined with her good looks turned her into a tabloid celebrity almost immediately.

But her career flagged after the series ended, and she went to Hollywood hoping for better luck.

Michael Douglas produced One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest aged 31
After a number of false starts she re-emerged opposite Antonio Banderas in The Mask Of Zorro in 1998.

Douglas finalised his divorce from his wife of 22 years, Diandra Luker, in 1999.

He grew up surrounded by Hollywood - he was born to screen legend Kirk Douglas and British actress Diana Dill. The couple divorced when he was five.

Like his fiancee, he also first came to attention on television - alongside Karl Malden in 1970s police show The Streets of San Francisco.

In 1975 - aged just 31 - he co-produced One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and his production credits since then have included The China Syndrome, Face/Off, Flatliners and Romancing The Stone.

On screen, he is best known for roles in Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Disclosure and The American President, and he is a well known supporter of the Democratic party in the US.

The BBC's Madeleine Holt
"Radically different backgrounds and 25-year age gap are, it seems, no obstacle"
BBC's Los Angeles correspondent Steve Futterman
"It is a romance that Hollywood has been watching"
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