Anthony Perkins


Actor
Anthony Perkins

About

Also Known As
Tony Perkins
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
April 04, 1932
Died
September 12, 1992
Cause of Death
Complications Resulting From Aids

Biography

One of the most intriguing leading men of the 1950s, Anthony Perkins' career path changed significantly after he was cast in a thriller from suspense master Alfred Hitchcock. Prior to that time, the handsome, boyish actor had earned critical praise for his work in "Friendly Persuasion" (1956) and "Fear Strikes Out" (1957), and was regarded as a fine candidate for romantic lead parts. How...

Photos & Videos

The Actress - Publicity Stills
Psycho - Lobby Cards
Green Mansions - Scene Stills

Family & Companions

Dorothy Jeakins
Companion
Costume designer. Befriended Perkins in 1950s.
Mali Nurmi
Companion
Actor, TV host. "dated" briefly.
Tab Hunter
Companion
Actor. Involved in the 1950s.
Timmy Evans
Companion
Actor. Involved in 1958.

Bibliography

"Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins"
Charles Winecoff, Dutton (1996)
"Osgood and Anthony Perkins"
Laura Kaye Palmer, McFarland (1991)

Notes

"Being a star is just plain awful." --Anthony Perkins quoted in Photoplay, September 1957.

Biography

One of the most intriguing leading men of the 1950s, Anthony Perkins' career path changed significantly after he was cast in a thriller from suspense master Alfred Hitchcock. Prior to that time, the handsome, boyish actor had earned critical praise for his work in "Friendly Persuasion" (1956) and "Fear Strikes Out" (1957), and was regarded as a fine candidate for romantic lead parts. However, that quickly changed after he portrayed murderous mama's boy Norman Bates in Hitchcock's hugely successful thriller, "Psycho" (1960). Perkins was so effective that for many viewers and producers, the role came to define him. A sojourn in Europe helped Perkins earn other sorts of assignments. He also gave a wonderful return performance as Norman in "Psycho II" (1983), and that unexpectedly effective film helped to revive public interest in him. A masterful character actor, Perkins' ability to convey mental instability in a fashion that was simultaneously disturbing, affecting, and darkly humorous made him a unique and valuable talent.

Anthony Perkins was born in New York City on April 4, 1932. His father, Osgood Perkins, was a stage star who also enjoyed some success in motion pictures, but died when Perkins was only five. An only child, Perkins attended Buckingham Browne & Nichols High School in Cambridge, MA and later, Columbia University and Rollins College. He received his earliest acting experience at the latter institution and via roles in summer stock. Among the plays he performed in was "The Actress" and Perkins made his motion picture debut in George Cukor's 1953 adaptation of that work. During that same time, he first graced Broadway as a replacement for John Kerr in "Tea and Sympathy" (1953-55) and received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his second feature, "Friendly Persuasion" (1956). Perkins also attracted attention on the small screen for a guest star appearance in a 1956 episode of "Goodyear Television Playhouse" (NBC, 1951-57) called "Joey." He played the titular part and sang on the show, which led to him being offered a recording contract. Ultimately, Perkins did not enjoy much success in that arena, though his 1957 single "Moonlight Swim" made it up to No. 24 on the Billboard Top 30 chart.

Perkins returned to Broadway in the drama "Look Homeward, Angel" (1957-59) and earned the attention of critics again in the film "Fear Strikes Out" (1957). As real-life baseball star Jimmy Piersall, whose career in the major leagues was sidelined by mental illness, Perkins gave an intense and wholly persuasive turn. His next two pictures, "Desire under the Elms" (1958) and "The Matchmaker" (1958), were not particularly good, but Perkins made the most of his roles in "Green Mansions" (1959), "On the Beach" (1959) and "Tall Story" (1960), where he was paired with fellow rising star Jane Fonda. He also headed back to Broadway in "Greenwillow" (1960), but the musical-comedy-fantasy flopped and closed in less than a month. At the beginning of 1960, Perkins was honored with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for both movies and television, but more importantly, he was cast in the part that both made his career and limited his options. Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) found the master director switching gears from glossy color thrillers with major stars to a lower-budget, black and white production with controversial subject matter. The suspenseful movie's scenes of violence and terror challenged the American movie code of the time and invigorated both audiences and critics. As Norman Bates, the handsome, seemingly naïve, dangerously insane antagonist, Perkins gave one of the most stunning and effective portrayals found in a movie of this type. Impressively, the actor managed to chill and repel viewers, while also eliciting a degree of sympathy for Norman's plight. His line readings and physical interpretation of the character also added to the film's dark humor. "Psycho" was a huge success and earned Perkins a great deal of attention, with much praise coming his way. However, it also began the process of him being typecast as nervous, unsociable, and often sinister loners, rapidly eradicating his previously established image as the handsome, young, romantic leading man.

While the identity "Psycho" gave him as an actor would be a struggle for Perkins during the ensuing years, he was also wrestling with his own personal demons. Perkins was gay and kept his orientation a secret, a ruse aided by various industry people who arranged for him to be seen in photo ops with various lovely, single actresses. In reality, he had regular sexual liaisons with show business colleagues like Tab Hunter and actor-choreographer Grover Dale, whom he had met on the set of "Greenwillow." Perkins suffered great mental anguish over his desires and spent years in therapy trying to "cure" himself. In the wake of the Hitchcock hit, Perkins was teamed with Ingrid Bergman for the romantic drama "Goodbye Again" (1961) and he won the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Europe was a place where Perkins found creative satisfaction in projects like "The Trial" (1962), Orson Welles' dense and challenging adaptation of Franz Kafka's novel. On the occasions when he did accept roles stateside, it was in the offbeat drama "The Fool Killer" (1965) and the Broadway hit "The Star-Spangled Girl" (1966-67). One notable American project was "Pretty Poison" (1968), which featured another indelible Perkins turn as a mentally disturbed man. As before, he was so effective, it further cemented him in people's minds as a cinematic psychopath.

Perkins continued to struggle with his sexual identity and at age 39, had his first heterosexual experience with co-star Victoria Principal during the making of "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1972). In 1973, Perkins married Berinthia "Berry" Berenson, a photographer and the sister of actress Marisa Berenson. The couple had met on the set of Perkins' film "Play it as it Lays" (1972) and would have two sons together. Perkins also dabbled in screenwriting with "The Last of Sheila" (1973), a twisty and intelligent murder mystery that he co-wrote with Stephen Sondheim, and did solid supporting turns in features like "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) and "Mahogany" (1975). He also made a strong return to Broadway in Peter Shaffer's "Equus" (1974-77), where he alternated with Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton in the role of psychiatrist Martin Dysart. Perkins continued to work throughout the late 1970s, playing Javert in a TV movie version of "Les Misérables" (CBS, 1978), shot in England and France. However, interesting productions like William Richert's political thriller "Winter Kills" (1979) were the exception and he mostly had paycheck outings in forgettable fare like "Ffolkes" (1979) and "The Black Hole" (1979). One bright spot was a final run on Broadway opposite Mia Farrow in "Romantic Comedy" (1979-1980). The next couple of years were quiet ones for Perkins, but an opportunity eventually arose that no doubt seemed both a blessing and a curse in terms of what it could do for his stalled career as a leading man.

When Universal Pictures announced its intention to make a follow-up to "Psycho" more than 20 years after the fact, the news was mostly greeted with derision. However, thanks to a good screenplay and intelligent direction from longtime Hitchcock disciple Richard Franklin, "Psycho II" (1983) turned out to be much better than expected. The key to its success, however, lay with Perkins, who dominated the screen in a role he knew how to play better than anyone. The movie was a box office winner worldwide and Perkins' next character made Norman Bates seem almost sedate. In Ken Russell's "Crimes of Passion" (1984), he played a sweating, drug-crazed, perverted preacher who menaced heroine Kathleen Turner with a knife-edged chrome dildo. The jacked-up performance perfectly matched the project's darkly campy intentions, though the film - which had to be significantly toned down to avoid an "X" rating - was widely panned by critics and ignored by audiences before finding a following on home video in a more explicit version. That year, Perkins was also arrested at London's Heathrow Airport and fined £100 for possession of marijuana and LSD.

Universal was keen for another "Psycho" sequel, so Perkins agreed on the condition that he also direct "Psycho III" (1986). The picture failed to duplicate its predecessor's box office and Perkins felt that he was not given adequate time and assistance to make the picture as good as he had hoped. Following a supporting engagement in the miniseries "Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story" (ABC, 1987), he stepped back behind the camera to direct the horror comedy "Lucky Stiff" (1988), but the low-budget effort made nary a ripple when released. Those who enjoyed seeing the actor at his most extreme relished "Edge of Sanity" (1989), a variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It cast Perkins in the famous dual role with his character's transformation triggered by smoking what appeared to be the Victorian era equivalent of crack. Like "Crimes of Passion," the picture was high on perverse exploitation content and also had to be cut to achieve an "R" rating for theatrical release. "Edge of Sanity" did nothing to revivify Perkins' movie career, but he was cast in various small screen horror projects. A final, made-for-cable entry in the "Psycho" series, "Psycho IV: The Beginning" (Showtime, 1990), made little impact and the made-for-TV thrillers "Daughter of Darkness" (CBS, 1990) and "I'm Dangerous Tonight" (USA Network, 1990) were mostly ignored by viewers.

Approaching 60, Perkins was able to keep working and was generally engaged onscreen, even in lesser projects. However, he began to experience health problems that were an unfortunate foreshadowing of what was in his future. While undergoing treatment for Bell's palsy, Perkins learned that he was HIV positive. Sadly, this came to his attention via an article inThe National Enquirer. The infamous tabloid was made aware of this by a medical attendant who had secretly submitted a sample of Perkins' blood and sold information about the results. Perkins denied the claim, but a privately sanctioned test confirmed the results. The actor kept his condition a secret and was able to find some work, but his only feature film parts came in low-grade overseas productions. Perkins' health continued to deteriorate and feeling that the end was near, he decided to make his condition public. The made-for-TV crime thriller "In the Deep Woods" (NBC, 1992) featured Perkins' final performance and aired six weeks after his passing on Sept. 12, 1992.

By John Charles

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Lucky Stiff (1989)
Director
Psycho III (1986)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

In the Deep Woods (1992)
The Naked Target (1992)
Mechanical Man
A Demon in My View (1991)
Arthur Johnson
Daughter of Darkness (1990)
Anton Crainic
Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)
Norman Bates--As An Adult
I'm Dangerous Tonight (1990)
Edge of Sanity (1989)
Destroyer (1988)
Director Edwards
Psycho III (1986)
Norman Bates
For the Term of His Natural Life (1985)
Crimes of Passion (1984)
Reverend Peter Shayne
The Sins Of Dorian Gray (1983)
Henry Lord
Psycho II (1983)
Double Negative (1981)
Lawrence Miles
Ffolkes (1980)
Lou Kramer
Twee Vrouwen (1979)
Alfred
Winter Kills (1979)
John Ceruti
The Black Hole (1979)
First You Cry (1978)
Arthur Herzog
Remember My Name (1978)
Neil Curry
Les Miserables (1978)
Inspector Javert
Mahogany (1975)
Lovin' Molly (1974)
Gid
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Reverend LaSalle
Play It As It Lays (1972)
B. Z. [Mendenhall]
Quelq'un derriere la porte (1971)
Larry
Catch-22 (1970)
Chaplain Tappman
WUSA (1970)
Rainey
Pretty Poison (1968)
Dennis Pitt
The Champagne Murders (1968)
Christopher Balling
Is Paris Burning? (1966)
Sergeant Warren
A Ravishing Idiot (1966)
Harry Compton
Evening Primrose (1966)
The Fool Killer (1965)
Milo Bogardus
Two Are Guilty (1964)
Johnny
The Trial (1963)
Joseph K
Five Miles to Midnight (1963)
Robert Macklin
Phaedra (1962)
Alexis
Goodbye Again (1961)
Philip Van der Besh
Psycho (1960)
Norman Bates
Tall Story (1960)
Ray Blent
Green Mansions (1959)
Abel Guevez de Argensola
On the Beach (1959)
Peter Holmes
The Matchmaker (1958)
Cornelius Hackl
This Angry Age (1958)
Joseph Dufresne
Desire Under the Elms (1958)
Eben Cabot
The Tin Star (1957)
Sheriff Ben Owens
The Lonely Man (1957)
Riley Wade
Fear Strikes Out (1957)
Jim Piersall
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Josh Birdwell
The Actress (1953)
Fred Whitmarsh

Writer (Feature Film)

The Last Of Sheila (1973)
Screenwriter

Music (Feature Film)

Crimes of Passion (1984)
Song Performer ("Get Happy")

Cast (Special)

Ghost Writer (1990)
Anthony Strack
King Kong: The Living Legend (1986)
The 40th Annual Tony Awards (1986)
Performer
The World of Sophia Loren (1962)
Guest
Hedda Hopper's Hollywood (1960)
Guest

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987)

Life Events

1942

After father's death, moved to Boston

1947

Professional stage debut with the Brattleboro Summer Theatre in Vermont; acted in "Junior Miss"

1948

In the summer, managed box office and acted at Robin Hood Theater in Arden, Delaware

1953

Film acting debut in "The Actress"

1954

Broadway debut in "Tea and Sympathy", replacing John Kerr as the boy; Joan Fontaine co-starred

1956

Received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in "Friendly Persuasion"

1957

Cast as Boston Red Sox player Jimmy Piersall in "Fear Strikes Out"

1957

Returned to Broadway stage in "Look Homeward, Angel"

1958

Appeared as Cornelius Hackl in "The Matchmaker"

1958

Co-starred opposite Sophia Loren in "Desire Under the Elms"

1960

Played signature role of Norman Bates in "Psycho"

1960

Made musical theater debut in "Greenwillow"; earned Tony nomination

1967

Stage directing debut, the tour of "The Star-Spangled Girl"; also starred

1968

Co-starred with Tuesday Weld in "Pretty Poison"

1970

Cast in the leading role of Bobby in the landmark musical "Company"; withdrew before rehearsals and replaced by Dean Jones (who also later withdrew just after opening night on Broadway)

1970

Off-Broadway directing debut, "Steambath"; also played lead role

1972

Reunited with Weld for "Play It as It Lays"

1973

First film as co-writer (with Stephen Sondheim), "The Last of Sheila"

1974

Staged the Off-Broadway production of "The Wager"

1974

Was part of the all-star ensemble of "Murder on the Orient Express"

1975

Appeared opposite Diana Ross in "Mahogany"

1979

Had celebrated nude scene in the stage play "Romantic Comedy"

1983

Reprised role of Norman Bates in "Psycho II"

1986

Film directing debut, "Psycho III"; also played Norman Bates

1989

Helmed "Lucky Stiff"

1990

Once again starred as Norman in "Psycho IV: A New Beginning"

1992

Final acting appearance in the TV-movie "Into the Deep Woods"

Photo Collections

The Actress - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from MGM's The Actress (1953), starring Jean Simmons, Spencer Tracy, and Anthony Perkins. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Psycho - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Psycho (1960). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Green Mansions - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from MGM's Green Mansions (1959), starring Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins.
Green Mansions - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Green Mansions (1959). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Pretty Poison - Movie Posters
Here are two different styles of American one-sheet movie posters for Fox's Pretty Poison (1968), starring Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Some Came Running - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Some Came Running (1959), directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacLaine.
The Black Hole - Movie Posters
Here are two different one-sheet movie posters for Disney's science-fiction adventure The Black Hole (1979). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Five Miles to Midnight - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Five Miles to Midnight (1963), starring Sophia Loren and Anthony Perkins. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Mahogany (1975) - A Really Good Obsession Egotistical fashion photographer Sean (Anthony Perkins), before he splits for Rome, is driving everyone nuts, including assistant Tracy (Diana Ross), at an artsy urban Chicago shoot, her boyfriend, neighborhood activist Brian (Billy Dee Williams) not impressed, in Mahogany, 1975.
Black Hole, The (1979) - Opening, Unscheduled Course Correction Music by John Barry and the voices of Roddy McDowall (as V.I.N.CENT the robot), Anthony Perkins (Dr. Durant) and Robert Forster(Capt. Holland) open Disney's 1979 sci-fi adventure The Black Hole.
Black Hole, The (1979) - I'm A Little Concerned The crew (Robert Forster, Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimieux, Ernest Borgnine) comes upon the legendary Dr. Reinhardt (Maximilian Schell) who's apparently named his own robot in The Black Hole, 1979.
Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean, The (1972) - First Time I Saw Roy Bean Before it’s clear that much of the movie will consist of visits by top actors in character roles, Anthony Perkins is the first, as Reverend LaSalle, discovering Roy (Paul Newman) shortly after he’s killed all the Anglo residents of his nascent town, in The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean, 1972.
Champagne Murders, The (1967) - I Haven't Had Enough Television Christine (Yvonne Furneaux) is finally making headway with playboy Paul (Maurice Ronet), who controls the name of her vineyard, which she's desperate to sell, trying also to use the influence of her husband Christopher (Anthony Perkins), who's also his best pal, in Claude Chabrol's The Champagne Murders, 1967.
Champagne Murders, The (1967) - Why Should People Have To Answer Bells? Vineyard owner Christine (Yvonne Furneaux) gives a tour to her buyers (Henry Jones lawyering for George Skaff), who are concerned that she doesn’t own the name, Stephane Audran her assistant, Maurice Ronet the playboy friend who does own it, Anthony Perkins her quirky husband, in Claude Chabrol’s The Champagne Murders, 1967.
Pretty Poison (1968) - You Don't Doubt Me? Tremendous freak out by Dennis (Anthony Perkins) at work in the lumber mill, chewed out by boss Dick O'Neill, edited by William Ziegler with images of Tuesday Weld, from director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Fear Strikes Out (1957) - I Showed 'Em! Never happened but represents similar incidents, Jim Piersall (Anthony Perkins), hits an inside-the-park home run at Fenway, Dad (Karl Malden) and wife (Norma Moore) in the stands, then wigs out, in Fear Strikes Out, 1957.
Pretty Poison (1968) - Sorry, That's Classified Paroled patient Dennis (Anthony Perkins) is working his secret agent spell with plausible machismo on high schooler Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) in an early scene from director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - The CIA Does Cover This? Fake secret agent Dennis (Anthony Perkins) is looking to impress his high-schooler girlfriend Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) by letting her help sabotage the lumber mill, when she unexpectedly raises the stakes, in director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - No Place At All For Fantasies Anthony Perkins as Dennis seems a lot like Norman Bates, as he's lectured and released by counselor Azenauer (John Randolph), then goes on to observe co-star Tuesday Weld, as drill-teamer Sue-Anne, opening director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - Lascivious Carriage Mischievous parolee Dennis (Anthony Perkins) is talking crime with short-order cook Pete (Joseph Bova) when Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld), whom he's been kind of stalking, initiates their fateful first meeting, in director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.

Trailer

Last of Sheila, The - (Original Trailer) The Last of Sheila (1973), an all-star whodunit written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins.
Goodbye Again (1961) - (Original Trailer) Ingrid Bergman trades Yves Montand for young Anthony Perkins in the Parisian romance Goodbye Again (1961) with fashions by Christian Dior.
Friendly Persuasion - (British Trailer) Gary Cooper plays a Quaker whose pacifism is tested during the Civil War in Friendly Persuasion, 1956, directed by William Wyler.
Five Miles to Midnight - (U.S. Trailer) Sophia Loren tries to free herself from her husband by helping him fake his own death in the thriller Five Miles to Midnight (1963).
Fear Strikes Out - (Original Trailer) Major League star Jimmy Piersall (Anthony Perkins) fights to save his sanity in Fear Strikes Out (1957).
Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The - (Original Trailer) Paul Newman stars as the Law West of the Pecos in John Huston's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972).
On The Beach - (Original Trailer) After a nuclear war, U.S. sailors stationed in Australia deal with the death of humanity in Stanley Kramer's On The Beach (1959).
Tin Star, The - (Original Trailer) An experienced bounty hunter (Henry Fonda) helps a young sheriff (Anthony Perkins) learn the meaning of his badge in Anthony Mann's The Tin Star (1957).
Green Mansions - (Original Trailer) Audrey Hepburn is Rima, the Bird Woman of the Amazon rain forest in the romantic adventure Green Mansions (1959) co-starring Anthony Perkins.
Murder on the Orient Express - (Original Trailer) Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of a mysterious businessman on a train ride in Murder on the Orient Express (1974)starring Albert Finney.
Actress, The - (Original Trailer) Jean Simmons stars in The Actress (1953), the true story of Ruth Gordon's early struggles on the road to stage stardom.
Pretty Poison - (Original Trailer) Anthony Perkins is the one in trouble after he convinces a small-town girl (Tuesday Weld) he's a secret agent in Pretty Poison (1968).

Family

Osgood Perkins
Father
Actor. Born on May 16, 1892; died in 1937 of heart failure.
Janet Esseltyn Perkins
Mother
Born c. 1895; died August 24, 1979; held various jobs including theater business manager; after husband's death lived with playwright Micheala O'Hara.
Marisa Berenson
Sister-In-Law
Actor, model.
Osgood Robert Perkins
Son
Actor. Born on February 2, 1974; married.
Elvis Perkins
Son
Musician. Born on February 9, 1976.

Companions

Dorothy Jeakins
Companion
Costume designer. Befriended Perkins in 1950s.
Mali Nurmi
Companion
Actor, TV host. "dated" briefly.
Tab Hunter
Companion
Actor. Involved in the 1950s.
Timmy Evans
Companion
Actor. Involved in 1958.
Arthur Teno Pollick
Companion
Together in 1959.
Grover Dale
Companion
Dancer, actor, choreographer. Had long relationship in the 1960s before marrying actress Anita Morris.
Victoria Principal
Companion
Actor. Dated in the early 1970s.
Berry Berenson
Wife
Photographer, actor, model. Married on August 9, 1973; granddaughter of fashion designer Schiaparelli; mother of Perkins' two sons; killed when terrorist crashed the plane on which she was a passenger into the World Trade Center in NYC on September 11, 2001.

Bibliography

"Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins"
Charles Winecoff, Dutton (1996)
"Osgood and Anthony Perkins"
Laura Kaye Palmer, McFarland (1991)

Notes

"Being a star is just plain awful." --Anthony Perkins quoted in Photoplay, September 1957.