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Star of the Month: Anthony Perkins
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Anthony Perkins - Fridays in October


At the beginning of his film career, Star of the Month Anthony Perkins promised to become a gangly, earnest leading man in the mold of a young Gary Cooper or James Stewart. But Perkins' repressed manner and intense eyes hinted at something disturbing under the all-American surface, and director Alfred Hitchcock exploited that quality brilliantly in Psycho (1960). Ironically, the actor's success in his greatest role - that of mother-obsessed madman Norman Bates - appeared to limit the range of parts he was offered afterwards.

The son of character actor Osgood Perkins, Perkins was born in New York City in 1932 and made his movie debut as Jean Simmons' endearingly awkward boyfriend in The Actress (1953). He was Oscar-nominated as Best Supporting Actor for playing Gary Cooper's idealistic son in Friendly Persuasion (1956), then elevated to star status in such films as Fear Strikes Out (1957), as troubled baseball player Jim Piersall; and The Tin Star (also 1957), as an inexperienced young sheriff.

Perkins starred opposite another winsome young performer, Audrey Hepburn, in Green Mansions (1959); and played a gawky basketball player in love with cheerleader Jane Fonda in Tall Story (1960). After the image-altering Psycho, which would be followed by three sequels with Perkins as Bates, he worked frequently in Europe and gave effective performances in such films as Jules Dassin's Phaedra (1962), Orson Welles' The Trial (1962), and Anatole Litvak's Five Miles to Midnight (1962).

Back in the U.S., Perkins found himself typecast in quirky, neurotic roles - and two of the best came opposite Tuesday Weld in both Pretty Poison (1968) and Play It As It Lays (1972). In 1973 Perkins married photographer Berinthia "Berry" Berenson, and the couple had two sons, Oz and Elvis. Perkins died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1992, and Berenson was killed in the September 11 attacks of 2001.

By Roger Fristoe

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