Photos by Kevin Harkins
Remember the day Halloween movie slasher psycho Michael Myers’ nemesis came to town? No? Then how about when now OSCAR WINNER JAMIE LEE CURTIS came and wowed the crowd at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium during Middlesex Community College’s 2018 Celebrity Forum?
Because after Sunday night’s Oscar onslaught by the film Everything Everywhere All At Once, Jamie Lee Curtis is now a bona fide Oscar winner thanks to her supporting role in the mind-bending multiverse flick.
And with emotional and heartwarming acceptance speech on Hollywood’s biggest stage, lots of locals are remembering when she roared into town with Knives Out in 2018 and had the sold-out crowd at the LMA eating out of her hand.
Admittedly, over most of those 20 years of working the event, ye author has been able to spend some time with many of the celebrities getting to know them behind the scenes.
Actor Robert Redford and TV news host Tim Russert were both enthralled to learn more about Lowell’s history. First Lady Laura Bush was interested in learning more about the students who benefit from the scholarships that the Celebrity Forum series supports. Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, was just happy to be surrounded by a roomful of sci-fi fans.
But Jamie Lee?
Jamie Lee was, without a doubt, the most vivacious fireball behind the scenes, interacting with everyone in a distinct, warm and welcoming way, Trading Places and making each of them feel like THEY were the stars of the night, not her.
From the minute she arrived at the LMA, she was working the crowd, saying hello to young women who waited outside the facility just to catch a glimpse of her. She quickly warmed up to WCVB journalist Susan Wornick, who would later be interviewing her on stage.
But back stage? There were no airs about her as she worked the photo line. Before the first pic was even snapped by photog extraordinaire Kevin Harkins, hoping to avoid any Freaky Friday snafus, she had MCC’s Public Safety Director Dan Martin on a ladder changing the overhead lighting to better showcase the features of the folks passing through the photo line.
When MCC benefactor Nancy Donahue came through with her son, Philip, she rolled out the red carpet for both of them, joining Philip in planting a kiss on Nancy’s cheek. Later at the end of the show, when MCC rolled out its campaign to name a seat at the college’s Academic Arts Center on Central Street, she called Donahue up on stage to join her, and had her sit on her lap.
During the show, when Curtis heard the reaction from the crowd whenever MCC Theater Chair Karen Oster’s name was mentioned, Curtis kept repeatedly shouting out KAREN OSTER during her question and answer session because she knew it would elicit a Pavlov’s Doglike raucous roar from Oster’s theater students in attendance.
She was definitely a Perfect performer, and had the crowd laughing and joining her on her energetic conversation about authenticity and self-exploration. No True Lies anywhere. She very obviously knew how to involve her audience and make the evening special for all.
There was no Fish Called Wanda to be found, but before she headed out, she took pics with a figurine of her on-screen Halloween nemesis, and was truly, an amazingly good sport.
She already had more than 40 years of acting under her belt. She had parentage hailing from among Hollywood’s royalty – dad Tony Curtis and mom Janet Leigh. And for that one night in Lowell, she wove herself into the city’s fabric. And that extended Lowellian entourage of 3,000 in attendance can now remember the night they met Jamie Lee Curtis – Oscar winner.