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Anthony Perkins in 1975, by Allan Warren
April 4, 1932|
New York City, U.S.
September 12, 1992 (aged 60)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||AIDS-related pneumonia|
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
Anthony Perkins (April 4, 1932 – September 12, 1992) was an American actor and singer. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his second film, Friendly Persuasion, but is best known for playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and its three sequels. His other films include Fear Strikes Out (1957), The Matchmaker (1958), On the Beach (1959), Tall Story (1960), The Trial (1962), Phaedra (1962), Five Miles to Midnight (1962), Pretty Poison (1968), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Mahogany (1975), North Sea Hijack (1979), The Black Hole (1979), and Crimes of Passion (1984).
Perkins was born in New York City, son of stage and film actor Osgood Perkins and his wife, Janet Esselstyn (née Rane). His paternal great-grandfather was wood engraver Andrew Varick Stout Anthony. He was five when his father died.
Perkins made his film debut in The Actress (1953). The film was a commercial disappointment. Perkins was first really noticed when he replaced John Kerr on Broadway in the lead of Tea and Sympathy in 1954. This renewed Hollywood interest in him.
Perkins received a lot of attention for his second film, Friendly Persuasion (1956), playing the son of Gary Cooper under the direction of William Wyler. The film was very successful and Perkins received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and an Academy Award nomination.
He released three pop music albums and several singles in 1957 and 1958 on Epic and RCA Victor as "Tony Perkins". His single "Moon-Light Swim" was a moderate hit in the United States, peaking at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957. He showcased his musical talents in The Matchmaker (1958) with Shirley Booth and Shirley MacLaine.
A life member of the Actors Studio, Perkins also acted in theater. In 1958, he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in Look Homeward, Angel (1957–59) on Broadway. He played the role of Eugene Gant.
Perkins was Audrey Hepburn's love interest in Green Mansions (1959), one of Hepburn's few flops. He was a doomed lover in On the Beach (1959) and played a college basketball champion in Tall Story (1960), best remembered for being Jane Fonda's film debut.
Perkins in youth had a boyish, earnest quality, reminiscent of the young James Stewart, which Alfred Hitchcock exploited and subverted when the actor starred as Norman Bates in the 1960 film Psycho. The film was a critical and commercial success, and gained Perkins international fame for his performance as the homicidal owner of the Bates Motel. Perkins' performance gained him the Best Actor Award from the International Board of Motion Picture Reviewers. The role and its multiple sequels affected the remainder of his career.
In 1961, Perkins received considerable critical acclaim for his performance in the film Goodbye Again, shot in Paris opposite Ingrid Bergman, a performance which won him the Best Actor Award at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival. The film was a notable success in France but not the US.
He appeared in a short-lived Broadway play Harold (1962) then made a series of films in Europe: Phaedra (1962), shot in Greece with Melina Mercouri and directed by Jules Dassin; Five Miles to Midnight (1962) with Sophia Loren; Orson Welles' 1962 adaptation of Kafka's The Trial (1962), shot in Yugoslavia; Le glaive et la balance (1963), shot in France; Une ravissante idiote (1964) with Brigitte Bardot.
Perkins starred in another French film, The Champagne Murders (1967) for Claude Chabrol, then made his first Hollywood movie since Psycho, Pretty Poison (1968) with Tuesday Weld. The film was not a box office success but has become a notable cult favorite.
Perkins co-wrote, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, the screenplay for the 1973 film The Last of Sheila, for which they received a 1974 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.
Perkins was one of the many stars featured in the 1974 hit Murder on the Orient Express. He co-starred with Beau Bridges in Lovin' Molly (1974). He enjoyed success on Broadway in Peter Shaffer's 1974 play Equus (where he was a replacement in the leading role originally played by Anthony Hopkins). Off Broadway he directed The Wager (1974).
He co-starred with Geraldine Chaplin in Remember My Name (1978) and had some good roles on TV, playing Mary Tyler Moore's husband in First, You Cry (1978) and as Javert in Les Misérables (1978). He was featured in Walt Disney's The Black Hole, in 1979. He had another Broadway success with Bernard Slade's 1979 play Romantic Comedy, which ran for 396 performances.
Perkins reprised the role of Norman Bates in Psycho's three sequels. The first, Psycho II (1983), was a box-office success twenty-three years after the original film. He went to Australia to appear in For the Term of His Natural Life (1983).
Perkins starred in some additional horror films, Edge of Sanity (1989), Daughter of Darkness (1990), and I'm Dangerous Tonight (1990). He played Norman Bates again in the made-for-cable film Psycho IV: The Beginning in 1990, over which he had much creative control, although he was turned down for director.
Perkins has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an honor he received for his influential and exceptional contributions to the motion–picture industry. It is located at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
In 1991, Perkins was honored with the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
Although he was fighting AIDS, he appeared in eight television productions between 1990 and 1992, including Daughter of Darkness (1990) and The Naked Target (1992). He made his final appearance in In the Deep Woods (1992) with Rosanna Arquette. He had agreed to provide the voice for the role of the dentist, Dr. Wolfe, in The Simpsons episode "Last Exit to Springfield" but died before the part could be recorded. In the end, the character was voiced by Simpsons regular Hank Azaria.
Perkins was an extremely shy person, especially in the company of women, and was never open about his bisexuality. According to the posthumous biography Split Image by Charles Winecoff, he had exclusively same-sex relationships until his late 30s, including with actors Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter; artist Christopher Makos; dancer Rudolf Nureyev; composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim; and dancer-choreographer Grover Dale. Perkins has been described as one of the two great men in the life of French songwriter Patrick Loiseau.
Perkins reportedly had his first heterosexual experience at age 39 with actress Victoria Principal on location filming The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean in 1971. He met photographer Berinthia "Berry" Berenson, the younger sister of actress and model Marisa Berenson, at a party in New York City in 1972. They married when he was aged 41 and she was 25, on August 9, 1973 and had two sons: actor Oz Perkins (b. February 2, 1974), and musician Elvis Perkins (b. February 9, 1976). Perkins and Berenson remained married until his death. Nine years later, she died at age 53 in the September 11 attacks aboard American Airlines Flight 11. She was returning to her California home following a holiday on Cape Cod.
Diagnosed with HIV during the filming of Psycho IV: The Beginning, Perkins died at his Los Angeles home on September 12, 1992, from AIDS-related pneumonia at age sixty. His urn, inscribed "Don’t Fence Me In," is in an altar by a bench on the terrace of his former home in the Hollywood Hills.
|1953||The Actress||Fred Whitmarsh|
|1956||Friendly Persuasion||Josh Birdwell||Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer|
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
|1957||Fear Strikes Out||Jim Piersall|
|1957||The Lonely Man||Riley Wade|
|1957||The Tin Star||Sheriff Ben Owens|
|1958||This Angry Age||Joseph Dufresne||Alternate title: The Sea Wall|
|1958||Desire Under the Elms||Eben Cabot|
|1958||The Matchmaker||Cornelius Hackl|
|1959||On the Beach||Lt. Peter Holmes – Royal Australian Navy|
|1960||Tall Story||Ray Blent|
|1960||Psycho||Norman Bates||Best Actor – International Board of Motion Picture Reviewers|
|1961||Goodbye Again||Philip Van der Besh||Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor|
|1962||Five Miles to Midnight||Robert Macklin||French title: Le couteau dans la plaie|
|1962||The Trial||Josef K|
|1963||Le glaive et la balance||Johnny Parsons||English title: The Sword and the Balance|
|1964||Une ravissante idiote||Harry Compton / Nicholas Maukouline||English title: The Ravishing Idiot|
|1965||The Fool Killer||Milo Bogardus||Alternate title: Violent Journey|
|1966||Is Paris Burning?||Sgt. Warren||Original French title: Paris brûle-t-il ?|
|1966||Evening Primrose||Charles Snell||Television film|
|1967||The Champagne Murders||Christopher||Original French title: Le Scandale|
|1968||Pretty Poison||Dennis Pitt|
|1970||Catch-22||Chaplain Capt. A. T. Tappman||Nominated – National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1970||WUSA||Rainey||Nominated – National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1970||How Awful About Allan||Allan||Television film|
|1971||Someone Behind the Door||Laurence Jeffries||Original French title: Quelqu'un derrière la porte|
|1971||Ten Days' Wonder||Charles Van Horn||Original French title: La Décade prodigieuse|
|1972||Play It as It Lays||B.Z. Mendenhall|
|1972||The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean||Reverend LaSalle|
|1974||Lovin' Molly||Gid Frye|
|1974||Murder on the Orient Express||Hector McQueen|
|1978||Remember My Name||Neil Curry|
|1978||First, You Cry||Arthur Heroz||Television film|
|1978||Les Misérables||Javert||Television film|
|1979||North Sea Hijack||Lou Kramer||Alternate titles: Ffolkes and Assault Force|
|1979||Winter Kills||John Cerruti|
|1979||Twice a Woman||Alfred Boeken||Original Dutch title: Twee Vrouwen|
|1979||The Black Hole||Dr. Alex Durant|
|1980||Deadly Companion||Lawrence Miles||Alternate title: Double Negative|
|1983||For the Term of His Natural Life||Reverend James North||Television miniseries|
|1983||The Sins of Dorian Gray||Henry Lord||Television film|
|1983||Psycho II||Norman Bates|
|1984||The Glory Boys||Jimmy||Television miniseries|
|1984||Crimes of Passion||Reverend Peter Shayne|
|1986||Psycho III||Norman Bates||Also director|
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actor
|1987||Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story||Talleyrand||Television miniseries|
|1988||Destroyer||Robert Edwards||Alternate title: Shadow of Death|
|1989||Edge of Sanity||Dr. Henry Jekyll / Jack "The Ripper" Hyde|
|1990||Daughter of Darkness||Anton / Prince Constantine||Television film|
|1990–92||Chillers||Himself (Host)||Television series (12 episodes)|
|1990||I'm Dangerous Tonight||Professor Buchanan||Television film|
|1990||The Ghost Writer||Anthony Strack||Television pilot|
|1990||Psycho IV: The Beginning||Norman Bates||Television film|
|1991||A Demon in My View||Arthur Johnson||Original title: Der Mann nebenan|
|1992||The Naked Target||El Mecano||Original Spanish title: Los gusanos no llevan bufanda|
|1992||In the Deep Woods||Paul Miller, P.I.||Television film (released posthumously; final film role)|
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