Catherine Zeta Jones

Doting mother of two and queen of the red carpet, this Oscar winner looks set to outshine her husband.

Catherine Zeta Jones' acting career has been meteoric considering that it was as recent as 1991 when the A-list movie star was only a fresh young face on the popular British TV drama The Darling Buds of May.

Making her prime time debut as the demure and sweet Mariette, very few would have predicted then that the pretty actress would eventually become one of the most bankable faces in the movie world. Jones' marriage to actor Michael Douglas in 2000 enshrined her in one of Hollywood's most famous movie families and cemented her status as Superstar.

Born in a working class area of Swansea, West Glamorgan, Zeta-Jones' interest in performing began early when a pre-teen Catherine would invite friends and family to watch her sing and dance on the living room table. Like a Welsh version of Bonnie Langford, she high-kicked and sang favourite Broadway tunes for the amusement of neighbours and proud family members. The fortunes of the Catholic Jones' family itself took an upturn when her parents won £100,000 on Bingo, prompting a move to a more middle-class neighbourhood.

Catherine was an unremarkable student, leaving her school years behind without any qualifications. But what she lacked in academic proficiency she made up for in talent and ruthless determination to become a star. She changed her name, deciding to make herself sound more glamorous by taking her great-grandmother's name Zeta as a middle-moniker.

Early stage beginnings were humble as a 10-year-old Zeta Jones performed as part of a Catholic congregation-performing troupe. But it wasn't long before the adolescent would-be actress was appearing in West End shows such as Annie and Bugsy Malone. There is little doubt that her exotic beauty brought her the attention she needed to win parts.

In 1987 she starred in a London production of 42nd Street and shortly afterwards she made her first feature film 1001 Nights for French film director Phillippe De Broca.

Despite a brief hiccup in the form of a misjudged singing career, Zeta-Jones' career trajectory continued steadily upwards in a series of low budget and unmemorable films.

A testament to her talent was that no matter how bad or pedestrian the productions were, the young actress was able to make an impression on the screen, if not with scintillating dialogue then certainly with her radiant beauty.

Two of Zeta-Jones' less accomplished movies - Eric Idle's Splitting Heirs (1993) and the British surfing drama Blue Juice (1995) - at least brought her to the attention of US casting directors and a major vamp-like role as the evil Sala in the blockbuster The Phantom (1996) starring Billy Zane. This high-camp comic-strip caper, which saw Zeta-Jones' character trying to kill Zane's lycra clad Phantom, opened up Hollywood's golden gates to the young Welsh actress.

Her next role as a glamorous passenger in a TV production about the doomed Titanic caught the eye of Steven Spielberg. The movie mogul then suggested the actress to New Zealand born film director Martin Campbell for his forthcoming swashbuckler – The Mask of Zorro. The hugely successful 1998 movie starring Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins was the breakthrough movie for Zeta-Jones and her entry into A-list land.

It was while watching Catherine's performance as the feisty vengeful Elena that actor Michael Douglas, 25 years Zeta-Jones' senior, insisted on an introduction to the new British starlet. The rest, as they say, is history.

The following year Zeta-Jones starred in the high-tech thriller Entrapment, which saw her hot on the heels of an art thief played by Sean Connery. Also in 1999, Zeta-Jones appeared among a starry ensemble of Hollywood names, including Liam Neeson and Lili Taylor, in The Haunting - a UK-filmed remake of the classic 1963 Robert Wise creeper. This latest offering, relying on CGI effects and over-the-top set pieces, was not well received by critics and did little to make use of Zeta-Jones' acting talents.

A more suitable vehicle was around the corner, however, with the starry Hollywood remake of Channel Four's mini-series masterpiece Traffic. Appearing with future husband Michael Douglas, Jones played the wife of a major drug baron with great gusto, and also while she was several months pregnant in real life.

That following year, on 18 November 2000, Zeta Jones tied the knot with Michael Douglas at the Plaza Hotel, New York. The couple's son, Dylan, was born three months earlier. The couple also signed a pre-nuptial agreement, which states Zeta Jones will receive $3 million for every year of their marriage if Douglas cheats on her.

The wedding, despite being a happy and glamorous affair, was to become the centrepiece of a controversial court case relating to charges of unauthorised photographs of the married couple in Hello! magazine after the couple had previously agreed exclusive rights to the UK published OK magazine.

After co-starring with Julia Roberts and John Cusack in America's Sweethearts, an acerbic parody of Hollywood celebrity, Zeta-Jones' crowning glory was about to emerge with the eagerly awaited film version of Broadway showstopper Chicago.

Her mesmerising performance as the devious and ruthless Roxie Hart in the 2003 blockbuster won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also took home the Bafta for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for her portrayal of Velma. If any one moment acted as a benchmark showing how far Zeta-Jones had come since her tap dancing days on her mother's table, this was it.

2003 was a busy year for the Hollywood star as she gave birth to her second child, daughter Carys Zeta Jones, and also starred in two movies. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas saw ZJ playing love interest Marina to Brad Pitt's Sinbad. A less 2D on-screen partner for the actress was George Clooney in the dark-romantic comedy Intolerable Cruelty by the Cohen brothers. Zeta-Jones played a feisty serial divorcee to Clooney's divorce attorney and the two were to meet up again in Ocean's Twelve, the 2004 sequel to mega-hit Ocean's Eleven. She also appeared alongside Tom Hanks as air hostess Amelia Warren in 2004 film The Terminal.

Away from the movie cameras, Catherine and husband Michael were performing a more serious role in London's Royal Courts of Justice as they eventually fought a victory over the unauthorised use of their wedding snaps that were printed in rival magazine Hello! The Douglases initially failed to obtain an injunction against the magazine to stop publication, but were later awarded damages. During the trial much publicity was given over to Zeta-Jones' utterance that a million pounds meant very little to the Hollywood couple.

In 2005, Zeta-Jones teamed up once again with director Martin Campbell and actor Antonio Banderas to reprise her role of Elena in The Legend of Zorro. The film was less commercially successful than the original 1998 box office hit.

Zeta-Jones has been kept busy with her own production company Milkwood, which plans to make several feature films in her beloved Wales and home town of Swansea. As well as her acting and producing commitments Zeta-Jones is also an advertising spokesperson for mobile phone company T-Mobile.

In 2007, the actress starred opposite Aaron Eckhart in the romantic comedy No Reservations, receiving a People's Choice Award nomination for her role as chef Kate.

The following year Zeta-Jones appeared opposite Guy Pearce in the film Death Defying Acts, based on the life of Harry Houdini. The film was received well by critics.

In December 2009, the actress returned to Broadway to star alongside Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music. Zeta Jones' performance was widely praised, with the actress receiving an Outer Critics Circle Award, Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical and a Drama Desk Award.

Zeta-Jones was awarded a CBE in 2010, the same year that her husband Michael Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer.

Although Douglas' treatment was successful, the stress of dealing with the illness took its toll on the actress. In 2011, it was announced that Zeta-Jones was receiving treatment for bipolar disorder II. The actress checked herself into the Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut for five nights. She left the hospital on 11 April 2011 and appears to be dealing with the condition successfully.

In 2012 she starred in Lay the Favourite alongside Bruce Willis.

Also that year, Zeta Jones returned to her singing and dancing training in the film adaptation of Broadway show Rock of Ages. She plays Patricia Whitmore who plans to 'tidy up' the strip in 1980's Los Angeles. Other stars in the film include Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand.