Anthony Perkins Overview:

Legendary actor, Anthony Perkins, was born on Apr 4, 1932 in New York City, NY. Perkins died at the age of 60 on Sep 12, 1992 in Hollywood, CA and was cremated and his ashes scattered in unknown location.

Early Life

Anthony Perkins was born on April 4th, 1932 in New York City and became a self-proclaimed product of an emotionally tormented childhood. His father, stage and screen actor Osgood Perkins, was often away from home either touring with theatrical production or filming in Hollywood. The younger Perkins remained home with his mother, Janet, soon growing an incredibly strong bond with his mother. Due his need to have his mother to himself, Perkins often grew moody and jealous when his father would return from a production. The claustrophobic nature of Tony and his mother's relationship only grew worse after Osgood died of a heart attack in 1935. Tony became incredibly distraught over his father's death, feeling guilt and anguish due to the negative feelings he harbored towards his father. An only child, Perkins became abnormally attached yet emotionally distant to his mother, creating a poisonous relationship that would come to shape his on-screen persona decades later.

Thanks to his family's privileged economic standing, Perkins was able to attend some of the northeast's most prestigious private schools. His formative years were spent studying in North Andover, Massachusetts at the Brooks School and before attending the very respected Buckingham Browne Nichols School. During this time, Perkins began to develop an interest in acting and by age fifteen was acting in his school's staged productions. After graduating Perkins attended Columbia University before transferring to Rollins College after relocating to Boston in early '40's. He remained interesting in the theater throughout his college education and went on to act in local productions after graduating.

Early Career

After spending a decade in the summer stock circuit, Perkins career began to take off in the early 1950s. In 1953 he was cast with a supporting role the George Cukor comedy The Actress, alongside Spencer Tracey, Teresa Wright, and Jean Simmons. That year he also made his Broadway debut, replacing John Kerr in the Broadway hit Tea and Sympathy. Perkins was received well by the critics for both of his earliest roles. He soon expanded his skills sets by taking roles on the growing medium of television, appearing on popular series such as The Big Story, The Man Behind the Badge, and General Electric Theater. He returned to the big screen in 1956 for the William Wyler civil war western Friendly Persuasion. Once again, Perkins was well received by critics, gaining his first Academy Awards nomination for the Best supporting Actor and receiving the Golden Glove Awards for New Star of the Year. The next year he starred in two more western The Tin Star and The Lonely Man and began positioning himself as a leading man with the biographical picture Fear Strikes Out. In the film, Perkins portrayed disturbed Red Sox baseball player Jimmy Piersall in the midst of emotional and mental breakdown.

Perkins would also remain active in the theater, often making the trip from Tinsel Town and Broadway. In 1958 he received a Tony Nomination for his leading role in the play Look Homeward, Angel.  He then returned to Hollywood in forgettable fair such as The Matchmaker with Shirley MacLaine and Green Mansions opposite Audrey Hepburn. Tin 1959 he appeared in post-apocalyptic Stanley Kramer drama On the Beach opposite like Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire.

Stardom and Limitations

In 1960 Perkins would received the role that would both create his legacy and limit his options - Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. As the handsome, shy and seemingly naive Norman Bates, Perkins gave not only the defining performance of his career but one of the most iconic characters of both filmic and pop-culture history.  His portrayal of the emotional disturbed Bates elicited both disgust and sympathy from audiences, creating a character that remained chilling villainous and pathetic at the same time. The film was great critical and commercial success with much of the attention going to Perkins performance. The attention, however, proved to be a blessing and a curse, as Perkins became ripe for typecasting. The young, handsome leading man persona he had spend the 1950s building soon gave way to the nervous, emotionally disturbed loner.

For his next film Perkins traveled to Europe to star opposite Ingrid Bergman and Yves Montand in the may-December romance Goodbye Again. For his efforts, Perkins won the Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. He remained in Europe, enjoying success in films like the Jules Dassin modern retelling of the classic Greek myth Phaedra and Anatole Litvak's Five Miles to Midnight. In 1962 he starred in the Orson Welles helmed adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel The Trial. Although his time Europe allowed the creative freedom of diverse roles, his stateside ventured proved less creatively accommodating. His role as a civil war veteran robbed of his memories and suffering from intense emotional disabilities in the small independent film The Fool Killer was telling of his inability to escape the trappings of his Psycho success. In 1968 Perkins starred again starred as another chillingly emotionally disturbed man in the Noel Black dark comedy Pretty Poison, effectively cementing his place in the American collective conscious.

Personal Struggles

Despite his professional achievements as an actor, Perkins struggled greatly in his personal life. Even at the height of his career, Perkins was incredibly shy with great anxiety in the presence of women - stemming from is relationship with his mother. During this time he also struggled with his sexual identity, carrying on affairs with actors such as Tab Hunter and artist Christopher Makos. It was not until early 1970's, at the age of 39, that Perkins had his first heterosexual experience. He finally would marry in 1973 to photographer Berinthia Berenson.

 Even with these strong personal struggles, Perkins remained very active in professional career. In 1972 he starred opposite Pail Newman in the John Huston revisionist western The Life and Times of Judge Roy Ben. The next year he took a stab behind the scenes, writing his first screenplay with the film The Last of Sheila, co-written by Stephen Sondheim. In 1974 he joined the star-studded cast of Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express appearing alongside names like Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, and Sean Connery. That year he also returned to Broadway to star in Equus, which ran for three years. Perkins then returned to the small screen to star in the TV movie adaption of Les Miserables as the obsessive Javert in 1978 before acting in some forgettable films such as Twice a Woman and The Black Hole. He returned to Broadway one last time in 1979, starring opposite Mia Farrow in the aptly named romantic comedy, Romantic Comedy.

Later Career

In 1983 Perkins returned to the character that both launched him into stardom and stunted his career: Norman Bates. To the surprise of many, the film was fairly successful at the box-office and with critics. Many cite Perkin's chilling performance as the reason for the films success. The next year he starred he starred as the drug-addicted, maniacal priest obsessed with streetwalker China Blue, in Crimes of Passion. Although the film was flop upon its initial release, the uncensored home video version has gained somewhat of cult following. In 1986 Perkins both starred and directed the third installment of the Psycho Franchise, aptly titled Psycho III. He worked behind the camera once again, directing the low-budget horror comedy Lucky Stiff. It was around this time that Perkins was diagnosed with HIV, an illness he tried his best to keep secret. Despite the secret, however, Perkins did work with the Berenson for Project Angel Food, an organization that provides meals for individuals who can no longer leave their home due to HIV.

Despite the illness Perkins remained busy, acting in less than stellar TV movies such as I'm Dangerous Tonight, The Ghost Writer and his final appearance as Norman Bates in the Showtime original feature Psycho IV: The Beginning. His final role was as Paul Miller in the 1992 made for TV movie Into the Deep Woods. It would air six weeks after his death. Anthony Perkins died on September 12th, 1992 from AIDS-related pneumonia. He was 60 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



Although Perkins was nominated for one Oscar, he never won a competitive Academy Award.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1956Best Supporting ActorFriendly Persuasion (1956)Josh BirdwellNominated

He was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Television and Motion Pictures.

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, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh star in Alfred Hitchock’s suspense classic “Psycho” Psycho (1960) is an American suspense thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh. The supporting cast i... Read full article

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Happy Birthday to Classic Movie Legend, , born April 4th, 1932! ’ acting career has fascinated me. Sure, there are a lot of actors who are either typecast or who only have a single memorable role, but with Perkins, it?s different. ?I mean, it?s one thing to be typ... Read full article

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Anthony Perkins Quotes:

Marion Crane: Taxidermy. That is a strange hobby to fill.
Norman Bates: A hobby should pass the time, not fill it.

Norman Bates: Well, a son is a poor substitute for a lover.
Marion Crane: Why don't you go away?
Norman Bates: What, to a private island like you?
Marion Crane: No, not like me.
Norman Bates: I couldn't do that. Who would look after her? The fire in her fireplace would go out. It would be cold and damp up there like a grave. If you love sombody, you wouldn't leave them even if they treat your badly. Do you understand? I don't hate my mother. I hate at what she's become. I hate her illness.

Norman Bates: Dirty night.

read more quotes from Anthony Perkins...

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Best Supporting Actor Oscar 1956

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Anthony Perkins Facts
Attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He did not graduate but was later given an honorary degree.

Anthony Perkins campaigned at a rally for Governor Michael Dukakis in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, the night before the US presidential election of 1988 (Mon, 7 Nov 1988).

Attended prestigious Buckingham Browne & Nichols high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other alumni include "The Sopranos" (1999) actress Ari Graynor, jazz musician Nate Peterson and Broadway star Lizzie Rose.

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