Anthony Perkins

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 (1956), but is best remembered 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).

Anthony Perkins
Anthony Perkins in 1975, by Allan Warren
Born(1932-04-04)April 4, 1932
DiedSeptember 12, 1992(1992-09-12) (aged 60)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materColumbia University
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1953–1992
Berry Berenson (m. 1973)
ChildrenOz Perkins
Elvis Perkins
Parent(s)Osgood Perkins

Early life

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.[1] He was five when his father died.[2]

Perkins was a descendant of a Mayflower passenger, John Howland. He attended Brooks School, Browne & Nichols School, Columbia University and Rollins College, having moved to Boston in 1942.[3]


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.[4]


Perkins gained notice for his second film, Friendly Persuasion (1956), directed by William Wyler, in which he played the son of the lead role, played by Gary Cooper. The film was a hit and Perkins received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and an Academy Award nomination.

Subsequently, Perkins starred as troubled former Boston Red Sox baseball player Jimmy Piersall in the 1957 biopic Fear Strikes Out (1957) and in the two Westerns The Lonely Man (1957) (with Jack Palance) and The Tin Star (1957) (with Henry Fonda).

He released three pop music albums and several singles in 1957 and 1958 on Epic and RCA Victor under the name Tony Perkins.[5] His single "Moon-Light Swim" was a moderate hit in the United States, peaking at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957.[5] He showcased his musical talents in The Matchmaker (1958) with Shirley Booth and Shirley MacLaine.

A life member of the Actors Studio,[6] 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.[7]

In film, he appeared in This Angry Age (1958) for Columbia and Desire Under the Elms (1958) for Paramount, with Sophia Loren. He was more happily cast in The Matchmaker (1958).

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.

On Broadway, he starred in the Frank Loesser musical Greenwillow (1960), for which he was nominated for another Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.


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 film Psycho (1960).[8] 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.[9]


Perkins appeared in the film Goodbye Again (1961) with Ingrid Bergman, which was shot in Paris. His performance 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 Perkins featured in a sequence of films shot 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' version of The Trial (1962, from the Kafka novel); Le glaive et la balance (1963), shot in France; Une ravissante idiote (1964) with Brigitte Bardot.

He made a film in Mexico, The Fool Killer (1965), then returned to France to make a cameo in Is Paris Burning? (1966).

Return to the U.S.

For American television, he appeared in Evening Primrose (1966). He then went to Broadway to appear in a play by Neil Simon, The Star-Spangled Girl (1966–67).

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.[10]

Supporting actor

Perkins moved into supporting roles in Hollywood-feature films, playing Chaplain Tappman in Catch-22 (1970) and appearing in WUSA (1970). Off Broadway, he appeared in and directed Steambath (1970).

He had the lead in a TV movie, How Awful About Allan (1970) and supported Charles Bronson in the French movie, Someone Behind the Door (1971). He starred in Chabrol's Ten Days' Wonder (1971).

Perkins was reunited with Weld when he supported her in Play It as It Lays (1972). He was also in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972).

Perkins co-wrote, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, the screenplay for the film The Last of Sheila (1973), 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 Murder on the Orient Express (1974). He co-starred with Beau Bridges in Lovin' Molly (also 1974).[11] 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).[12] Off-Broadway he directed The Wager (1974).

Perkins supported Diana Ross in Mahogany (1975) and hosted television's Saturday Night Live in 1976.

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 was a villain in North Sea Hijack (1980)[13] and one of many names in Winter Kills (1980). He also starred in the 1980 Canadian film Deadly Companion (also known as Double Negative).[14]

Last roles

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).

After The Glory Boys (1984) for British television, Perkins made Crimes of Passion (1984) for Ken Russell.[15]

He then starred in and directed Psycho III (1986), for which he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actor.

Perkins had supporting roles in Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987), and Destroyer (1988). He directed but did not appear in Lucky Stiff (1988).

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 (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 suffering from 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.[16]

Perkins was portrayed by British actor James D'Arcy in the 2012 biographical drama Hitchcock, which starred Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as Alma Reville.

Personal life

Perkins was an extremely shy person, especially in the company of women.[17] According to the posthumous biography Split Image by Charles Winecoff, he had exclusively same-sex relationships until his late 30s, including with actor Tab Hunter; artist Christopher Makos; dancer Rudolf Nureyev; composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim; and dancer-choreographer Grover Dale.[18] Perkins has been described as one of the two great men in the life of French songwriter Patrick Loiseau.[19]

Perkins reportedly had his first heterosexual experience at age 39 with actress Victoria Principal[20][21] on location filming The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean in 1971.[17] He met photographer Berinthia "Berry" Berenson, the younger sister of actress and model Marisa Berenson, at a party in New York City in 1972.[17] 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).[22] Perkins and Berenson remained married until his death. In 2001, on the day before the ninth anniversary of his death, 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.[23]


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[24][25][26] pneumonia at age 60.[27] 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.[28]


Film and Television
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 Green Mansions Abel
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 Phaedra Alexis
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 Colleigh 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
1975 Mahogany Sean McAvoy
1978 Remember My Name Neil Curry
1978 First, You Cry Arthur Heroz Television film
1978 Les Misérables Javert Television film
1979 Winter Kills John Cerruti
1979 Twice a Woman Alfred Boeken Original Dutch title: Twee Vrouwen
1979 The Black Hole Dr. Alex Durant
1980 North Sea Hijack Lou Kramer Alternate titles: Ffolkes and Assault Force
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
1988 Lucky Stiff N/A Director
1989 Edge of Sanity Dr. Henry Jekyll / Jack "The Ripper" Hyde
1990 Daughter of Darkness Anton / Prince Constantine Television film
1990–92 Chillers (aka Mistress of Suspense) Himself / Host Television series (12 episodes)
1990 I'm Dangerous Tonight Professor Buchanan Television film
1990 The Ghost Writer Anthony Strack Television pilot episode
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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  2. "OSGOOD PERKINS, STAGE STAR, DIES; Stricken After Premiere of 'Susan and God,' in Which He Was Leading Man". The New York Times. September 22, 1937. Retrieved April 1, 2008.(Subscription required.)
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  10. A PERSONAL REVOLUTION: Anthony Perkins Trying to Mature Boyish Image ANTHONY PERKINS Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 Dec 1967: c1.
  11. "Anthony Perkins Movies | Ultimate Movie Rankings". Retrieved 2017-10-27.
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  14. Bloomfield, George (1981-11-30), Double Negative, Michael Sarrazin, Susan Clark, Anthony Perkins, retrieved 2017-10-26
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  28. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 36782-36783). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Further reading

  • Bergan, Ronald: Anthony Perkins: A Haunted Life. London: Little, Brown and Company, 1995; ISBN 0-316-90697-2.
  • Hilton, Johan: Monster i garderoben: En bok om Anthony Perkins och tiden som skapade Norm Bates. Stockholm: Natur & Kultur, 2015; ISBN 978-91-271-3430-0. (in Swedish)
  • Capua, Michelangelo "Anthony Perkins. Prigioniero della Paura." Torino, Lindau, 2003; ISBN 978-8867082759
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