Anthony Perkins

Actor, Director, Screenwriter
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 ... Read more »
Born: 04/03/1932 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (59)

A Demon in My View 1991 (Movie)

Arthur Johnson (Actor)

The Naked Target 1991 (Movie)

Mechanical Man (Actor)

Ghost Writer 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

I'm Dangerous Tonight 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Edge of Sanity 1989 (Movie)

Mr Jack Hyde (Actor)

Destroyer 1988 (Movie)

Director Edwards (Actor)

Psycho III 1986 (Movie)

Norman Bates (Actor)

The 40th Annual Tony Awards 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Crimes of Passion 1984 (Movie)

Peter Shayne (Actor)

For the Term of His Natural Life 1984 (Movie)

Reverend North (Actor)

The Thrill of Genius 1984 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Psycho II 1983 (Movie)

Norman Bates (Actor)

Double Negative 1981 (Movie)

Lawrence Miles (Actor)

ffolkes 1980 (Movie)

Lou Kramer (Actor)

Les Miserables 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Black Hole 1979 (Movie)

Dr Alex Durant (Actor)

Remember My Name 1978 (Movie)

Neil Curry (Actor)

Twee Vrouwen 1978 (Movie)

Alfred (Actor)

Winter Kills 1978 (Movie)

John Ceruti (Actor)

Saturday Night Live 1976 (Tv Show)

Actor

Mahogany 1975 (Movie)

Sean McAvoy (Actor)

Lovin' Molly 1974 (Movie)

Gid (Actor)

Murder on the Orient Express 1974 (Movie)

McQueen (Actor)

Play It As It Lays 1972 (Movie)

B Z (Actor)

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean 1972 (Movie)

Reverend LaSalle (Actor)

Catch-22 1970 (Movie)

Chaplain Tappman (Actor)

La Decade Prodigieuse 1970 (Movie)

Charles (Actor)

Quelq'un derriere la porte 1970 (Movie)

Larry (Actor)

Wusa 1970 (Movie)

Rainey (Actor)

Pretty Poison 1968 (Movie)

Dennis Pitt (Actor)

The Champagne Murders 1968 (Movie)

Christopher (Actor)

Is Paris Burning? 1966 (Movie)

Warren (Actor)

The Fool Killer 1964 (Movie)

Milo Bogardus (Actor)

The Trial 1963 (Movie)

Joseph K (Actor)

Five Miles to Midnight 1962 (Movie)

Robert Macklin (Actor)

Phaedra 1962 (Movie)

Alexis (Actor)

Goodbye Again 1961 (Movie)

Philip van der Besh (Actor)

Hedda Hopper's Hollywood 1959 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Psycho 1960 (Movie)

Norman Bates (Actor)

Tall Story 1960 (Movie)

Ray Blent (Actor)

On the Beach 1959 (Movie)

Peter Holmes (Actor)

Desire Under the Elms 1958 (Movie)

Eben Cabot (Actor)

Green Mansions 1958 (Movie)

Abel (Actor)

The Matchmaker 1958 (Movie)

Cornelius Hackl (Actor)

Fear Strikes Out 1957 (Movie)

Jimmy Piersall (Actor)

The Lonely Man 1957 (Movie)

Riley Wade (Actor)

The Tin Star 1957 (Movie)

Ben Owens (Actor)

Friendly Persuasion 1956 (Movie)

Josh Birdwell (Actor)

This Angry Age 1956 (Movie)

Joseph Dufresne (Actor)

The Actress 1953 (Movie)

Fred Whitmarsh (Actor)

Daughter of Darkness (TV Show)

Actor

First You Cry (TV Show)

Actor

How Awful About Allan (TV Show)

Actor

In the Deep Woods (TV Show)

Actor

Psycho IV: The Beginning (TV Show)

Actor

The Sins of Dorian Gray (TV Show)

Actor
Music (2)

Crimes of Passion 1984 (Movie)

("Get Happy") (Song Performer)

Green Mansions 1958 (Movie)

(Song Performer)
Director (2)

Lucky Stiff 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

Psycho III 1986 (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (1)

The Last of Sheila 1972 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

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, but upon returning to Hollywood, his work in fare like "Pretty Poison" (1968) further cemented him as being suitable mostly for genre pictures. Perkins eventually embraced that destiny and gave a wonderful return performance as Norman in "Psycho II" (1983) and that unexpectedly effective film helped to revive public interest in him. Off camera, Perkins suffered great anxiety over his sexual orientation and underwent therapy to help overcome his attraction to other men. He eventually married a woman and fathered two sons, but never fully overcame his personal demons and suffered the dismay of learning he was HIV positive via a story in The National Enquirer. 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

Relationships

Marisa Berenson

Sister-In-Law

Berry Berenson

Wife
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

Grover Dale

Companion
had long relationship in the 1960s before marrying actress Anita Morris

Timmy Evans

Companion
involved in 1958

Tab Hunter

Companion
involved in the 1950s

Dorothy Jeakins Costume Designer

Companion
befriended Perkins in 1950s

Rudolf Nureyev Costume Designer

Companion

Mali Nurmi

Companion
"dated" briefly

Janet 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

Osgood Perkins Costume Designer

Father
born on May 16, 1892 died in 1937 of heart failure

Elvis Perkins

Son
born on February 9, 1976 mother, Berry Berenson

Osgood Perkins

Son
born on February 2, 1974 mother, Berry Berenson

Arthur Pollick

Companion
together in 1959

Victoria Principal Actor

Companion
dated in the early 1970s

EDUCATION

Columbia University

New York , New York
dropped out one month before graduating to appear on Broadway in "Tea and Sympathy"

The Brooks School

North Andover , Massachusetts 1944
boarding school

Miss Corden's School

New York , New York 1936

attended public school in Boston, Massachusetts

Rollins College

Winter Park , Florida
did not graduate

Browne and Nichols School

Cambridge , Massachusetts 1947

Milestones

1992

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

1990

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

1989

Helmed "Lucky Stiff"

1986

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

1983

Reprised role of Norman Bates in "Psycho II"

1979

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

1975

Appeared opposite Diana Ross in "Mahogany"

1974

Staged the Off-Broadway production of "The Wager"

1974

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

1973

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

1972

Reunited with Weld for "Play It as It Lays"

1969

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

1969

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)

1968

Co-starred with Tuesday Weld in "Pretty Poison"

1967

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

1960

Played signature role of Norman Bates in "Psycho"

1960

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

1958

Appeared as Cornelius Hackl in "The Matchmaker"

1958

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

1957

Returned to Broadway stage in "Look Homeward, Angel"

1957

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

1956

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

1954

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

1953

Film acting debut in "The Actress"

1948

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

1947

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

1941

After father's death, moved to Boston

Worked in summer stock at the Peterborough Summer Theatre in Ontario, Canada

Starred on Broadway in Neil Simon's "The Star-Spangled Girl"

Portrayed Martin Dysart on Broadway in "Equus"

Born in NYC

Bonus Trivia

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

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