Anthony Perkins

Anthony Perkins (April 4, 1932 – September 12, 1992) was an American actor, director, 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), The Black Hole (1979), North Sea Hijack (1980), and Crimes of Passion (1984).

Anthony Perkins
Anthony Perkins Psycho Publicity Photo (cropped).jpg
Perkins in Psycho (1960)
Born(1932-04-04)April 4, 1932
DiedSeptember 12, 1992(1992-09-12) (aged 60)
Alma materColumbia University
  • Actor
  • director
  • singer
Years active1953–1992
(m. 1973)
ChildrenOz Perkins
Elvis Perkins

Early lifeEdit

Perkins was born in Manhattan, 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 passengers John Howland, Myles Standish and William Brewster as well as Roger Conant. Through an entirely paternal line he is descended from John Perkins, who arrived in Boston from England in 1630 as part of the Puritan migration to New England. He attended Brooks School and Browne & Nichols School, having moved to Boston in 1942, and then Columbia University and Rollins College.[3][4]


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.[5]


Perkins gained notice for his second film, Friendly Persuasion (1956), directed by William Wyler, in which he played the son of the lead character, played by Gary Cooper.

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.[6] His single "Moon-Light Swim" was a moderate hit in the United States, peaking at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957.[6] He showcased his musical talents in The Matchmaker (1958) with Shirley Booth and Shirley MacLaine.

A life member of the Actors Studio,[7] 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.[8]

In film, he appeared in This Angry Age (1958) for Columbia and Desire Under the Elms (1958) for Paramount, with Sophia Loren. He was then 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 young father 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).[9] 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's 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.[10]


Perkins appeared in the film Goodbye Again (1961) with Ingrid Bergman, which was shot in Paris.

He appeared in a short-lived Broadway play, Harold (1962), then was featured in a series 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; and Une ravissante idiote (1964) with Brigitte Bardot.

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

Return to the U.S.Edit

For American television, Perkins appeared in Evening Primrose (1966), an original musical with a score by his close friend Stephen Sondheim. He then went to Broadway to appear in a play by Neil Simon, The Star-Spangled Girl (1966–67).

He 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. It was not a box office success, but has become a notable cult favorite.[11]

Supporting actorEdit

In the 1970s, Perkins moved into supporting roles in Hollywood-feature films, playing Chaplain Tappman in Catch-22 (1970) and appearing in WUSA (1970), starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Off-Broadway, he appeared in and directed Steambath (1970).

Perkins had the lead in a TV movie, How Awful About Allan (1970) and supported Charles Bronson in the French crime drama, Someone Behind the Door (1971). He starred in Chabrol's murder mystery 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 successful western The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972). He co-wrote, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, the screenplay for the ensemble film The Last of Sheila (1973).

Perkins was one of the many stars featured in Murder on the Orient Express (1974), adapted from a popular Agatha Christie novel. He co-starred with Beau Bridges and Blythe Danner in Lovin' Molly (also 1974).[12] 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).[13] Off-Broadway he directed The Wager (1974).

Perkins supported Diana Ross in the romantic drama Mahogany (1975) and hosted television's Saturday Night Live in 1976. He co-starred with Geraldine Chaplin in Remember My Name (1978) and had roles on television, playing Mary Tyler Moore's husband in First, You Cry (1978) and Javert in Les Misérables (1978). He was featured in Walt Disney's science fiction film The Black Hole, in 1979. He had another Broadway success with Bernard Slade's 1979 play Romantic Comedy. Perkins was a villain in the action film North Sea Hijack (1980), starring Roger Moore, and one of many names in Winter Kills (1980), which was never released. He also starred in the 1980 Canadian film Deadly Companion (also known as Double Negative).

Sondheim-Perkins collaborationsEdit

The Last of SheilaEdit

Perkins and Stephen Sondheim co-wrote the script of The Last of Sheila, a 1973 American neo noir mystery film directed by Herbert Ross. They then went on to try to collaborate together again two more times, but the projects were ultimately unrealized.

The Chorus Girl Murder CaseEdit

In 1975, Tony Perkins said he and Sondheim were working on another script, The Chorus Girl Murder Case. "It's a sort of stew based on all those Bob Hope wartime comedies, plus a little Lady of Burlesque and a little Orson Welles magic show, all cooked into a Last of Sheila-type plot", said Perkins.[14] He later said other inspirations were They Got Me Covered, The Ipcress File and Cloak and Dagger.[15] They had sold the synopsis in October 1974.[16] At one point, Michael Bennett was to direct, with Tommy Tune to star.[17] In November 1979, Sondheim said they had finished it.[18] However, the film was never made.[citation needed]

Crime and VariationsEdit

In the 1980s, Perkins and Sondheim collaborated on another project, the seven part Crime and Variations for Motown Productions. In October 1984 they had submitted a treatment to Motown.[19] It was a 75-page treatment set in the New York socialite world about a crime puzzle – another writer was to write the script. It, too, was never made.[20]

Later careerEdit

Perkins in 1983

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.

Perkins went to Australia to appear in TV mini-series 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.[21] He then starred in and directed Psycho III (1986).

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

Perkins appeared in six television productions between 1990 and 1992, including Daughter of Darkness (1990) and hosting a 12-episode horror anthology series titled Chillers (1990). 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.[22]

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 lifeEdit

Perkins (far left) with Tab Hunter (far right), whom he used to date

Perkins was extremely shy, especially in the company of women.[23] 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.[24] Perkins has also been described as one of the two great men in the life of French songwriter Patrick Loiseau.[25]

Perkins reportedly had his first heterosexual experience at age 39 with actress Victoria Principal[26][27] on location filming The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean in 1971.[23] He was in therapy with psychologist Mildred Newman, whom Stephen Sondheim later described to author Mark Harris as “completely unethical and a danger to humanity.” In his 2021 biography of Mike Nichols, Harris wrote that “Perkins and his longtime boyfriend, Grover Dale, had both become convinced that their homosexuality was obstructing their happiness and wanted to restart their lives with women,” adding that Newman and her husband–partner Bernard Berkowitz “clung to the belief that male homosexuality was a form of arrested development, and made a small fortune convincing willing clients that it was an impediment to getting what they wanted.”[28]

Perkins met photographer Berinthia "Berry" Berenson, the younger sister of actress and model Marisa Berenson, at a party in Manhattan in 1972.[23] They married when he was 41 and she was 25, on August 9, 1973, and had two sons: director Oz Perkins (b. 1974) and musician Elvis Perkins (b. 1976).[29] Perkins and Berenson remained married until his death. In 2001, on the day before the ninth anniversary of his death, Perkins's widow died at age 53 in the September 11 attacks aboard American Airlines Flight 11. She was returning to her California home following a vacation on Cape Cod.[30]


Perkins was diagnosed with HIV during the filming of Psycho IV: The Beginning, and died at his Los Angeles home on September 12, 1992, from AIDS-related[31][32][33] pneumonia at age 60.[34] His urn, inscribed "Don't Fence Me In", is in an altar on the terrace of his former home in the Hollywood Hills.[35]



Year Title Role Notes
1953 The Actress Fred Whitmarsh
1956 Friendly Persuasion Josh Birdwell Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Male
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
1957 This Angry Age Joseph Dufresne Alternative 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. Commander Peter Holmes
1960 Tall Story Ray Blent
1960 Psycho Norman Bates International Board of Motion Picture Reviewers for Best Actor
Nominated—Bambi Award for Best International Actor
1961 Goodbye Again Philip Van der Besh Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor
David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor
Nominated—Bambi Award for Best International Actor
1962 Phaedra Alexis
1962 Five Miles to Midnight Robert Macklin
1962 The Trial Josef K
1963 Le glaive et la balance Johnny Parsons English titles: The Sword and the Balance and Two Are Guilty
1964 Une ravissante idiote Harry Compton / Nicholas Maukouline English title: The Ravishing Idiot
1965 The Fool Killer Milo Bogardus
1966 Is Paris Burning? Sgt. Warren
1967 The Champagne Murders Christopher Belling French title: Le scandale
1968 Pretty Poison Dennis Pitt
1970 Catch-22 Chaplain Tappman Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
1970 WUSA Morgan 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 French title: Quelqu'un derrière la porte
1971 Ten Days' Wonder Charles Van Horn 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
1973 The Last of Sheila N/A Co-writer with Stephen Sondheim
Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay [Shared with Sondheim]
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 Dutch title: Twee vrouwen
1979 The Black Hole Dr. Alex Durant
1980 North Sea Hijack Lou Kramer Alternative titles: ffolkes and Assault Force
1980 Deadly Companion Lawrence Miles Alternative title: Double Negative
1983 The Sins of Dorian Gray Henry Lord Television film
1983 Psycho II Norman Bates
1984 Crimes of Passion Reverend Peter Shayne
1986 Psycho III Norman Bates Also director
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
1988 Destroyer Robert Edwards
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 I'm Dangerous Tonight Professor Buchanan Television film
1990 Psycho IV: The Beginning Norman Bates Television film
1991 A Demon in My View Arthur Johnson
1992 The Naked Target El Mecano
1992 In the Deep Woods Paul Miller, P.I. Television film (released posthumously; final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1953 The Big Story Ralph Darrow Episode: "Robert Billeter of the Pendleton Times of Franklin, West Virginia"
1954 Armstrong Circle Theatre Philippe Episode: "The Fugitive"
1954 The Man Behind the Badge Pedro Episodes: "The East Baton Rouge Story", "The Case of the Narcotics Racket"
1955 General Electric Theater West Wind Episode: "Mr. Blue Ocean"
1955 Windows Benji Episode: "The World Out There"
1956 Kraft Television Theatre Willie O'Reilly Episode: "Home Is the Hero"
1956 Studio One Clyde Smith Episode: "The Silent Gun"
1956 Front Row Center Dexter Green Episode: "Winter Dreams"
1956 The Goodyear Playhouse Joey Episode: "Joey"
1966 ABC Stage 67 Charles Snell Episode: "Evening Primrose"
1968 Play of the Month Tommy Turner Episode: "The Male Animal"
1976 Saturday Night Live Himself – Host / Norman Bates / Various Episode: "Anthony Perkins/Betty Carter"
1983 For the Term of His Natural Life Reverend James North Television miniseries
1984 The Glory Boys Jimmy Television miniseries
1987 Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story Talleyrand Television miniseries
1990 Chillers Himself – Host 12 episodes
1990 The Ghost Writer Anthony Strack Unsold television pilot


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
1954–55 Tea and Sympathy Tom Lee Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City Broadway (replacement for John Kerr)
1957–59 Look Homeward, Angel Eugene Gant Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City Broadway
1960 Greenwillow Gideon Briggs Alvin Theatre, New York City Broadway
1962 Harold Harold Selbar Cort Theatre, New York City Broadway
1966–67 The Star-Spangled Girl Andy Hobart Plymouth Theatre, New York City Broadway
1970 Steambath Tandy Truck and Warehouse Theater, New York City Off-Broadway (also director)
1974 The Wager N/A Eastside Playhouse, New York City Off-Broadway (director)
1975–76 Equus Martin Dysart Plymouth Theatre, New York City Broadway (replacement for Anthony Hopkins)
1979–80 Romantic Comedy Jason Carmichael Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City Broadway


Year Album Label
1957 Orchestra Under the Direction of Martin Paich Epic Records
1958 On A Rainy Afternoon RCA Victor
1958 From My Heart... RCA Victor
1964 Anthony Perkins Pathé


  1. ^ "Architecture of 196 Beacon Street, Back Bay, Boston". BOSarchitecture. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
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  13. ^ Barnes, Clive (July 17, 1975). "Stage: Perkins in 'Equus'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
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  15. ^ Flatley, Guy (February 19, 1978). "Perkins: Film 'sickie' turns to reel bigamy". Chicago Tribune. p. E23.
  16. ^ Winer, Linda (October 20, 1974). "Filling blanks in the puzzle of Sondheim", Chicago Tribune". p. E3.
  17. ^ Winecoff, Charles (1996). Split image: the life of Anthony Perkins. Dutton. p. 327.
  18. ^ Mann, Roderick (November 29, 1979). "Cool Down on 'Rough Cut'". Los Angeles Times. p. G25.
  19. ^ Mann, Roderick (October 7, 1984). "TONY PERKINS: THE 'CRIMES' OF HIS HEART". Los Angeles Times. p. X24.
  20. ^ Zadan, Craig (1986). Sondheim & Co. Harper & Row. pp. 352–53.
  21. ^ "Biography for Anthony Perkins". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  22. ^ Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Last Exit to Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
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  24. ^ Winecoff, Charles (1996). Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins. New York City: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94064-2.
  25. ^ "La MST de Dave: son compagnon raconte…". Closer (in French). May 2, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  26. ^ "Great Factoids". People. March 6, 1989. Archived from the original on September 20, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  27. ^ Kennedy, Dana (September 20, 1996). "Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  28. ^ Harris, Mark (2021). Mike Nichols: A Life. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 0399562249.
  29. ^ Hopkinson, Amanda (September 14, 2001). "Berry Berenson". The Guardian. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  30. ^ Hopkinson, Amanda (September 14, 2001). "Berry Berenson". The Guardian. London, England.
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  32. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (September 16, 1992). "Anthony Perkins's Wife Tells of 2 Years of Secrecy". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  33. ^ Ferrell, David (September 13, 1992). "Anthony Perkins, 60, Dies; Star of 'Psycho' Had AIDS". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
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  35. ^ 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 readingEdit

  • 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

External linksEdit