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Some myths have a greater shelf life than others. From the salacious to the downright nasty, Hollywood has been the source of a lot of compelling fiction, and we're here to set the record straight about how one juicy bit of hearsay snowballs into a big fat whopper of a lie.
Today's tawdry tidbit involves actress/ children's book author/ "True Lies" hottie Jamie Lee Curtis and whether or not she was born with some extra equipment … you know, down there? Without inciting some crazy "birther movement" for her to reveal her birth certificate to the press, we'll delve into this rumor with as much grace as the Internet will allow.
On November 22, 1958 a future scream queen, Baroness of Haden-Guest and Golden Globe winner named Jamie Lee Curtis came bouncing into the world at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Hollywood, California. She was the second daughter of power couple Tony Curtis ("Some Like It Hot") and Janet Leigh ("Psycho"), later following in both their comedic and thriller-capable footsteps in movies like "Halloween," "Trading Places" and "A Fish Called Wanda."
Somewhere along the way "a doctor" leaked the information that Curtis was either born a hermaphrodite with both male and female genitalia or that she has "androgen insensitivity syndrome," meaning she was born with XY chromosones and is medically a male whose masculinization has been impaired. So much for competing in the Olympics!
Evidence For It
Mannish Name: The rumor is that Curtis and Leigh named their baby "Jamie Lee" because they couldn't decide if it was a boy or a girl due to her having both a wing-wang and a hoo-hah.
Her Children Are Adopted: Most intersex or transsexual individuals are given the choice later in life to identify as male or female and get surgery accordingly. A person born with AIS or operated on to remove a penis would likely be barren, so the fact that she and husband Christopher Guest adopted their kids Annie (b. 1986) and Thomas (b. 1996) seems like proof positive to many, despite the myriad reasons a couple would adopt.
She's Got The Look: Some have pointed out Jamie's "androgynous" look due to short haircut, "butch" facial features as well as tough-lady roles in action flicks like "Blue Steel." The closest any actual doctor has come to pronouncing her a hermaphrodite was an associate Professor of Anthropology at Brown University named William O. Beeman who wrote a 1996 op-ed piece for The Baltimore Sun titled "What Are You: Male, Merm, Herm, Ferm or Female?" His one-line comment regarding Curtis was pulled before publication due to total lack of documentation.
Evidence Against It
Kelly Lee Curtis: Folks get bent out of shape over the fact that "Jamie" could be a guy's name, too, but her two-years-older sister Kelly also has one of those "AC/DC" monikers. Her mom Janet Leigh spoke to Village Voice columnist Michael Musto in 1998 about it: "We didn't know ahead of time if it would be a girl or a boy, so when I was pregnant with Kelly, my best friend Jackie Gershwin said, 'Why don't you call the baby Kelly, so if it's a girl, it works, and if it's a boy, it works?' And she thought the same thing with Jamie. The babies were named before they were born because Jackie said, 'This way, we won't have to worry about it!'"
Outspoken About LGBT Rights: Curtis is an AIDS activist and appeared recently in Dustin Lance Black's play "8" about California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage. She's also a regular blogger for The Huffington Post, giving a nod to Angelina Jolie and her decision to be vocal about her double mastectomy procedure. Chances are if she were a trans-gendered individual she would have said something by this point. Since starring opposite a genuine freak of nature, Lindsay Lohan, in 2003's "Freaky Friday," Curtis has kept a low profile in movies, popping up occasionally in supporting roles but focusing mostly on her children's books (ten and counting, including one titled "Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born") and the occasional Activia ad. There's really no career downside for her at this point to reveal "the truth" of her birth … if there is indeed anything to reveal.
The Peanut Gallery
"Well she's got a damn fine set of cans for a guy!" — "raisinbread," Straight Dope message boards
"For the record, Jamie Lee Curtis' tits are fake, husband is gay and children are adopted. So she probably was born an 'intersexual' But Christ all Friday she was hotter than the dogs balls." — "Abraham Lincoln," Stern Fan Network message boards
"I have known Jamie Lee for many years. I knew her mother quite well. This is a bogus Hollywood urban myth. She was not born a hermaphrodite. Sorry to s**t on your parade, but that story is just f**king wrong. Jamie Lee is one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met. She's generous and would do anything for a person in need. Like I said, sorry to spoil your fun." — "A. Friend," The Data Lounge message boards
What Jamie's Said
In myriad interviews for print, TV or even Oprah the always-dignified Curtis has never broached the subject one way or another. The closest she came was an unfortunate run-in with a Howard Stern intern in 1998, who asked point-blank: "Clear it up once and for all. Were you born a hermaphrodite?" Jamie Lee Curtis replied, "How DARE you say that! I have children!"
Although many people take this myth at face value simply because Jamie wears her hair short and other specious reasoning, it's pretty damn unlikely. Having closely examined her sexy scenes in movies like "Trading Places" and "True Lies" it's pretty hard to argue that the lady is anything but all-woman, and if she isn't, who cares, right? Even Lana Wachowski, who became openly transgender and proud of it last year during the promotion of "Cloud Atlas," did not reveal whether she still had her wing-wang or not. As Michael Jackson said, "Ain't nobody's business but mine and my baby."
Now we can focus on the real mystery: What's she doing in this Hertz Rent-a-Car commercial with O.J. Simpson?