Anthony Perkins was an American actor who was well known for his role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 suspense/horror film Psycho.


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 The Brooks School, The 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 as "Tony Perkins". His single "Moon-Light Swim" was a hit in the United States, peaking at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957. He starred with Shirley Booth and Shirley MacLaine in the film The Matchmaker (1958).

A life member of The Actors Studio,[4] 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. During this time he also co-starred in Desire Under the Elms (1958) with Sophia Loren, and played a basketball star in the romantic comedy Tall Story (1960) opposite Jane Fonda.

Perkins was cast as Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed 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. 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. In 1964 he starred Une ravissante idiote, with the French star Brigitte Bardot.

After that came a successful career in Europe, including the role of Joseph K. in Orson Welles' 1962 adaptation of Kafka's The Trial. 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 The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and was one of the many stars featured in the 1974 hit Murder on the Orient Express. In 1974, Perkins played the lead role in the romantic drama Lovin' Molly with Blythe Danner, Beau Bridges, and Susan Sarandon. Perkins also hosted television's Saturday Night Live in 1976 and was featured in his only science fiction film, 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 more than 20 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, the actor appeared in eight television productions between 1990 and 1992, including Daughter of Darkness (1990) with Mia Sara and The Naked Target (1992) with Roddy McDowall. He made his final appearance in In Deep Woods (1992) with Rosanna Arquette.

Perkins had agreed to provide the voice for the role of the dentist, Dr. Wolfe, in The Simpsons episode "Last Exit to Springfield" after Anthony Hopkins and Clint Eastwood both turned the role down, but he died before the part could be recorded. In the end, the character was voiced by Simpsons regular Hank Azaria.[5]

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

On August 9, 1973, Perkins married photographer Berinthia "Berry" Berenson. They had two sons: actor Oz Perkins (b. February 2, 1974), and musician [Elvis Perkins (b. February 9, 1976).[6]

He was a very shy person, especially in the company of women.[7] According to an unauthorized biography by Charles Winecoff, he had affairs with Christopher Makos, actor Tab Hunter, dancer Rudolf Nureyev, composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, actor Nick Adams, and dancer-choreographer Grover Dale prior to marrying Berenson.[8] He had his first intimate heterosexual] experience at the age of 39 while working on the 1972 film The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean with an actress who also appeared in the film. Perkins declined to identify the actress, but "other sources" have identified her as Victoria Principal. Principal confirmed this in a People magazine article about Perkins.[7]


Diagnosed with HIV during the filming of Psycho III, Anthony Perkins died at his Los Angeles home on September 12, 1992, from AIDS-related[9][10][11] pneumonia at age 60.[12]


  1. Architecture of 196 Beacon Street, Back Bay, Boston
  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 (
  4. David Garfield. A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. 1980. MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. Page 279. Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980
  5. Jean, Al. 2004. The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Last Exit to Springfield". 20th Century Fox
  6. Hopkinson, Amanda (September 14, 2001). "Berry Berenson". The Guardian.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Darrach, Brad (June 13, 1983). "Return of Psycho". People. Vol. 19, No. 23
  8. Winecoff, Charles Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins. Dutton. 1996. ISBN 0-525-94064-2
  9. 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.
  10. Weinraub, Bernard (September 16, 1992). "Anthony Perkins's Wife Tells of 2 Years of Secrecy". The New York Times.
  11. Ferrell, David (September 13, 1992). "Anthony Perkins, 60, Dies; Star of 'Psycho' Had AIDS". Los Angeles Times.
  12. "Anthony Perkins: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
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