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.jpg
Perkins in 1975, by Allan Warren
Born(1932-04-04)April 4, 1932
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 12, 1992(1992-09-12) (aged 60)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materColumbia University
  • Actor
  • director
  • singer
Years active1953–1992
(m. 1973)
ChildrenOz Perkins
Elvis Perkins
Parent(s)Osgood Perkins
Janet Esselstyn Rane

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 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 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.[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 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 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.


Publicity photo of Perkins from the 1960 film Psycho

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.

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). 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.[10]

Supporting actorEdit

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).

Perkins 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). He co-wrote, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, the screenplay for the film The Last of Sheila (1973).

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 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 The Black Hole, in 1979. He had another Broadway success with Bernard Slade's 1979 play Romantic Comedy. Perkins was a villain in North Sea Hijack (1980) and one of many names in Winter Kills (1980). He also starred in the 1980 Canadian film Deadly Companion (also known as Double Negative).

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 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.[13] He then starred in and directed Psycho III (1986).

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).

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.[14]

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 was extremely shy, especially in the company of women.[15] 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.[16] Perkins has also been described as one of the two great men in the life of French songwriter Patrick Loiseau.[17]

Perkins reportedly had his first heterosexual experience at age 39 with actress Victoria Principal[18][19] on location filming The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean in 1971.[15] He met photographer Berinthia "Berry" Berenson, the younger sister of actress and model Marisa Berenson, at a party in Manhattan in 1972.[15] They married when he was 41 and she was 25, on August 9, 1973 and had two sons: director Oz Perkins (b. February 2, 1974) and musician Elvis Perkins (b. February 9, 1976).[20] Perkins and Berenson remained married until his death. In 2001, on the day before the ninth anniversary of his death, Perkins' widow 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.[21]


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[22][23][24] pneumonia at age 60.[25] 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.[26]


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. Peter Holmes – Royal Australian Navy
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 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 Stephen 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 Kraft Television Theatre Himself – Guest Star Episode: "The Missing Years"
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 Goodyear Television Playhouse Joey Episode: "Joey"
1966 ABC Stage 67 Charles Snell Episode: "Evening Primrose"
1968 BBC Play of the Month Tommy Turner Episode: "The Male Animal"
1976 Saturday Night Live Himself – Host / Norman Bates / Various Episode: "Anthony Perkins/Betty Carter"
1979 The Horror Show Himself – Host / Narrator Television special
1983 For the Term of His Natural Life Reverend James North Television miniseries (2 episodes)
1984 The Glory Boys Jimmy Television miniseries (3 episodes)
1987 Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story Talleyrand Television miniseries (3 episodes)
1990 Chillers Himself – Host Television series (12 episodes)
1990 The Ghost Writer Anthony Strack 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.
  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.)
  3. ^ "Anthony Perkins Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on February 14, 2007. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
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  5. ^ a b "Tony Perkins". AllMusic. Retrieved January 9, 2008.
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  7. ^ "Look Homeward, Angel – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB". Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  8. ^ "Norman Bates: A Most Terrifying Mama's Boy". Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  9. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (1992-09-16). "Anthony Perkins's Wife Tells of 2 Years of Secrecy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (Dec 20, 1967). "A PERSONAL REVOLUTION: Anthony Perkins Trying to Mature Boyish Image ANTHONY PERKINS". Los Angeles Times. p. c1.
  11. ^ "Anthony Perkins Movies | Ultimate Movie Rankings". Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  12. ^ Barnes, Clive (1975-07-17). "Stage: Perkins in 'Equus'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  13. ^ "Biography for Anthony Perkins". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  14. ^ Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Last Exit to Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  15. ^ a b c Darrach, Brad (June 13, 1983). "Return of Psycho". People. Vol. 19 no. 23. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  16. ^ Winecoff, Charles (1996). Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins. New York City: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94064-2.
  17. ^ "La MST de Dave: son compagnon raconte…". Closer (in French). May 2, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  18. ^ "Great Factoids". People. March 6, 1989. Archived from the original on September 20, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  19. ^ Kennedy, Dana (September 20, 1996). "Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Hopkinson, Amanda (September 14, 2001). "Berry Berenson". The Guardian. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  21. ^ Hopkinson, Amanda (September 14, 2001). "Berry Berenson". The Guardian. London, England.
  22. ^ Goodman, Mark (September 28, 1992). "One Final Mystery". Vol. 38, No. 13. People. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  23. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (September 16, 1992). "Anthony Perkins's Wife Tells of 2 Years of Secrecy". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  24. ^ Ferrell, David (September 13, 1992). "Anthony Perkins, 60, Dies; Star of 'Psycho' Had AIDS". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  25. ^ "Anthony Perkins". TV Guide. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  26. ^ 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