Anthony Perkins

For other people named Anthony Perkins, see Anthony Perkins (disambiguation).
Anthony Perkins

Anthony Perkins in 1975, by Allan Warren
Born (1932-04-04)April 4, 1932
New York, New York, U.S.
Died September 12, 1992(1992-09-12) (aged 60)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death AIDS-related pneumonia
Nationality American
Occupation Actor, musician
Years active 1953–1992
Spouse(s) Berry Berenson (1973–1992, his death)
Children Oz Perkins
Elvis Perkins
Parent(s) Osgood Perkins
Janet Esselstyn Rane

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 but is best known for playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and its three sequels.

His other films include The Trial, Phaedra, Fear Strikes Out, Tall Story, The Matchmaker, Pretty Poison, North Sea Hijack, Five Miles to Midnight, The Black Hole, Murder on the Orient Express, Mahogany, and Crimes of Passion.

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). He received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and an Academy Award nomination for his second film, Friendly Persuasion (1956). The tall (6'2", 188 cm) Perkins also portrayed the troubled former Boston Red Sox baseball player Jimmy Piersall in the 1957 biopic Fear Strikes Out.

Following this, he released three pop music albums in 1957 and 1958 on Epic and RCA Victor as "Tony Perkins".[4] His single "Moon-Light Swim" was a 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 on Broadway. He played the role of Eugene Gant.

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 1960 film Psycho (1960). 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.

In 1961, Perkins received considerable critical acclaim for his performance in the film Goodbye Again, opposite Ingrid Bergman, a performance which won him the Best Actor Award at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.

After that came a successful career in Europe, including the role of Joseph K. in Orson Welles' 1962 adaptation of Kafka's The Trial (1962). In 1964 he starred in Une ravissante idiote, with Brigitte Bardot.

Upon returning to America, he took the role of a disturbed young murderer in Pretty Poison (1968) opposite Tuesday Weld. He also played Chaplain Tappman in Catch-22 (1970). Perkins co-wrote, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, the screenplay for the 1973 film The Last of Sheila, for which they received a 1974 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.

In 1972, he appeared in Play It as It Lays and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. Perkins was one of the many stars featured in the 1974 hit Murder on the Orient Express. He also hosted television's Saturday Night Live in 1976 and was featured in the box office-smash and space opus, Walt Disney's The Black Hole, in 1979.

His Broadway credits also included the 1967 Neil Simon comedy The Star-Spangled Girl, the Frank Loesser musical Greenwillow (1960), for which he was nominated for another Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and Bernard Slade's 1979 play Romantic Comedy opposite Mia Farrow.

Perkins reprised the role of Norman Bates in three sequels to Psycho. The first, Psycho II (1983), was a box office success 23 years after the original film. He then starred in and directed Psycho III (for which he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actor) in 1986, but refused to reprise his role as Bates in the failed television pilot Bates Motel, famously boycotting the project in a very ardent, and well-received, oppositional public campaign. He did play Bates in the following made-for-cable film Psycho IV: The Beginning in 1990, over which he had much creative control, although he was turned down for director. He directed a comedy horror film in 1988 called Lucky Stiff.

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 fighting 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.[7]

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

While young, Perkins was a very shy person, especially in the company of women.[8] According to the posthumous biography Split Image by Charles Winecoff, he had exclusively same-sex relationships until his late 30s, including with actors Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter; artist Christopher Makos; dancer Rudolf Nureyev; composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim; and dancer-choreographer Grover Dale.[9] Perkins has been described as one of the two great men in the life of French author Patrick Loiseau.[10]

Perkins reportedly had his first heterosexual experience at age 39 with actress Victoria Principal[11] on location filming The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean in 1971.[8] He met photographer Berinthia "Berry" Berenson the following year at a party in New York City.[8] They married when he was age 41, on August 9, 1973 and had two sons: actor Oz Perkins (b. February 2, 1974), and musician Elvis Perkins (b. February 9, 1976).[12]


Diagnosed with HIV during the filming of Psycho IV, Perkins died at his Los Angeles home on September 12, 1992, from AIDS-related[13][14][15] pneumonia at age 60.[16] His wife died nine years later, in the September 11 attacks.


Year Title Role Notes
1953 The Actress Fred Whitmarsh
1956 Friendly Persuasion Josh Birdwell Nomination – 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
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 Best Actor Award
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
1966 Is Paris Burning? Sgt. Warren Original French title: Paris brûle-t-il ?
1966 Evening Primrose Charles Snell TV movie
1967 The Champagne Murders Christopher Original French title: Le Scandale
1968 Pretty Poison Dennis Pitt
1970 Catch-22 Chaplain Capt. A. T. Tappman
1970 WUSA Rainey
1970 How Awful About Allan Allan TV movie
1971 Someone Behind the Door Laurence Jeffries Original French title: Quelqu'un derrière la porte
1971 Ten Days' Wonder Charles Van Horn – le fils déséquilibré de Théo
1972 Play It as It Lays B.Z.
1972 The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean Reverend LaSalle
1974 Lovin' Molly Gid
1974 Murder on the Orient Express Hector McQueen
1975 Mahogany Sean McAvoy
1978 Remember My Name Neil Curry
1978 Laserblast Doctor Mellon
1978 First, You Cry Arthur Heroz TV movie
1978 Les Misérables Javert TV movie
1979 North Sea Hijack Kramer
1979 Winter Kills John Cerruti
1979 Twice a Woman Alfred Boeken
1979 The Black Hole Dr. Alex Durant
1980 Deadly Companion Lawrence Miles
1983 For the Term of His Natural Life Rev James North TV movie
1983 The Sins of Dorian Gray Henry Lord TV movie
1983 Psycho II Norman Bates
1984 The Glory Boys Jimmy TV
1984 Crimes of Passion Rev. Peter Shayne
1986 Psycho III Norman Bates Also director
Nomination – Saturn Award for Best Actor
1987 Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story Talleyrand TV mini-series
1988 Destroyer Robert Edwards
1989 Edge of Sanity Dr. Henry Jekyll / Jack 'The Ripper' Hyde
1990 Daughter of Darkness Anton/Prince Constantine TV movie
1990 I'm Dangerous Tonight Prof. Buchanan TV movie
1990 Psycho IV: The Beginning Norman Bates TV movie
1991 Der Mann nebenan Arthur Johnson based on the novel A Demon in My View
1992 The Naked Target El mecano Original Spanish title: Los gusanos no llevan bufanda
1992 In the Deep Woods Paul Miller, P.I. TV movie, (Last appearance)


  1. "Architecture of 196 Beacon Street, Back Bay, Boston".\accessdate=2016-11-03.
  2. "Osgood Perkins, stage star, dies; Stricken after premiere of Susan and God, in Which He Was Leading Man". The New York Times.
  3. "Anthony Perkins Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on February 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
  4. Tony Perkins at AllMusic
  5. Charts & Awards,
  6. Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 279. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  7. Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Last Exit to Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  8. 1 2 3 Darrach, Brad (June 13, 1983). "Return of Psycho". People. Vol. 19, No. 23
  9. Winecoff, Charles (1996). Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94064-2.
  10. "La MST de Dave : son compagnon raconte…". (in (French)). Retrieved 2016-11-03.
  11. No author (March 6, 1989). Great Factoids. People. Vol. 19, No. 23
  12. Hopkinson, Amanda (September 14, 2001). "Berry Berenson". The Guardian, September 14, 2001.
  13. Goodman, Mark (September 28, 1992). "One Final Mystery: Surrounded by Family, Friends and a Wall of Silence, Tony Perkins Succumbs to AIDS". People. Vol. 38 No. 13.
  14. Weinraub, Bernard (September 16, 1992). "Anthony Perkins's Wife Tells of 2 Years of Secrecy", The New York Times, September 16, 1992.
  15. Ferrell, David (September 13, 1992). "Anthony Perkins, 60, Dies; Star of 'Psycho' Had AIDS". Los Angeles Times.
  16. "Anthony Perkins: Biography", TV Guide; retrieved August 22, 2013.

Further reading

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