Anthony Perkins

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Anthony Perkins. The name itself brings to mind a talented and enigmatic actor, known for his iconic role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s psycho-thriller “Psycho”. But there is much more to Perkins than just his unforgettable portrayal of a disturbed motel owner. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the life and career of Anthony Perkins, from his early days in theater to becoming a Hollywood legend. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about the man behind the iconic character of Norman Bates.

Early Life and Career


Born on April 4th, 1932 in New York City, Anthony Perkins was the son of stage and film actor Osgood Perkins. From a young age, he showed an interest in acting and would often accompany his father to the theater. However, Perkins’ childhood was not without its struggles. His parents divorced when he was only five years old, and he was left to be raised by his mother, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. These early experiences had a profound impact on Perkins and shaped his future as an actor.

Broadway Beginnings

Perkins’ foray into acting began with appearances in local plays and summer stock productions. However, it was his performance in the play “Tea and Sympathy” that caught the attention of Hollywood producer George Stevens. Stevens was so impressed with Perkins that he offered him a screen test for the lead role in his upcoming film “The Actress”. At the time, Perkins was only 22 years old and had no previous film experience. Despite this, he landed the role and made his film debut in 1953.

Unfortunately, “The Actress” was not a commercial success, and Perkins returned to Broadway, where he continued to hone his craft. He gained critical acclaim for his performances in plays like “Look Homeward, Angel” and “Greenwillow”. However, it wasn’t until 1955 that Perkins would make his mark in Hollywood with the film “Friendly Persuasion”. His role as Josh Birdwell, a young soldier during the Civil War, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.


The Iconic Role of Norman Bates

After his success in “Friendly Persuasion”, Perkins continued to work steadily in both film and theater. However, it was his collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock in the 1960 film “Psycho” that would cement his place in Hollywood history. Perkins’ portrayal of the disturbed motel owner Norman Bates was met with critical acclaim and solidified him as a talented actor. His performance was so convincing that even today, people still associate him with the character of Norman Bates.

Behind the Scenes of “Psycho”

While “Psycho” may have been a career-defining role for Perkins, it was not without its challenges. In an interview with The New York Times, he revealed that the infamous shower scene took seven days to shoot and required 78 camera setups. He also shared that Hitchcock was very particular about every detail, from the lighting to the angle of the knife. Despite the difficulties, Perkins’ dedication to the role paid off, and “Psycho” became one of the most influential and iconic horror films of all time.

A Versatile Actor


While many may remember Perkins for his role in “Psycho”, he was much more than just a horror movie villain. Throughout his career, he proved to be a versatile actor, taking on a variety of roles in different genres. In the 1970s and 80s, he starred in several Broadway productions, including “Equus” and “Romantic Comedy”. He also made appearances on television shows such as “The Love Boat” and “Murder, She Wrote”.

One notable film that showcased Perkins’ range as an actor was “Five Miles to Midnight” (1962), where he played a manipulative husband opposite Sophia Loren. His performance in this film earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. In addition, Perkins also dabbled in directing, with his directorial debut being the cult-classic horror film “Psycho III” in 1986.

Personal Life and Struggles

While Anthony Perkins may have been a Hollywood heartthrob, he struggled with personal issues throughout his life. He was known to be quiet and reserved, often keeping to himself on set. However, his struggles went beyond just shyness. In an interview with People Magazine, Perkins shared that he battled depression and even underwent treatment for mental illness. Despite this, he continued to work and remained dedicated to his craft.

Perkins’ personal life came under scrutiny in the 1970s when rumors about his sexuality began to surface. In an era where homosexuality was not widely accepted, Perkins chose to keep his private life hidden from the public eye. However, in 1992, he publicly acknowledged his homosexuality and revealed that he had been living with HIV for several years. Sadly, Perkins passed away on September 12th, 1992 due to complications from AIDS at the age of 60.

Legacy and Influence

Anthony Perkins may have been taken from us too soon, but his legacy continues to live on through his timeless performances and impact on Hollywood. He paved the way for future LGBTQ+ actors by being one of the first A-list actors to come out publicly. His role as Norman Bates in “Psycho” remains one of the most iconic and influential performances in cinema history.

Honoring His Memory

In honor of Perkins’ contributions to film and theater, a star was dedicated to him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994. He was also posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2016, recognizing his impact on Broadway.

In addition, every year since his passing, the Anthony Perkins Memorial Fund has held a fundraising event called “A Sondheim Evening”. The event raises money for AIDS research and honors Perkins’ love for the works of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.



To truly understand the scope of Anthony Perkins’ career, we have compiled a list of some of his most notable films. From horror to drama, these films showcase Perkins’ versatility as an actor.


1953The Actress
1956Friendly Persuasion
1962Five Miles to Midnight
1973The Last of Sheila
1986Psycho III


1974Remember When
1978Les Misérables
1986Murder, She Wrote
1986The Twilight Zone
1987Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit


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