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Toronto Star (13/Sep/1992) - Perkin's role in Psycho haunted him all his life



Perkin's role in Psycho haunted him all his life

Anthony Perkins, who played the murderous motel keeper Norman Bates in the classic thriller Psycho, died yesterday of AIDS complications. He was 60.

Perkins died peacefully in the bedroom of his Hollywood home with his wife and sons at his side, his publicist Leslee Dart said.

Earlier this week, Perkins put together a statement about his condition, Dart said.

"I chose not to go public about this because, to misquote Casablanca, 'I'm not much at being noble but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of one old actor don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world," he said.

"There are many who believe that this disease is God's vengeance, but I believe it was sent to teach people how to love and understand and have compassion for each other.

"I have learned more about love, selflessness and human understanding from the people I have met in this great adventure in the world of AIDS than I ever did in the cutthroat, competitive world in which I spent my life."

Perkins, the son of stage and film actor Osgood Perkins, gained fame playing awkward, often neurotic young men. Later, his name became synonymous with horror films.

He broke into movies in 1953, appearing in The Actress with Spencer Tracy, Teresa Wright and Jean Simmons.

He then appeared on Broadway and in television dramas before returning to the screen in 1956 in Friendly Persuasion with Gary Cooper, which earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, and he co-starred with Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire in the acclaimed 1959 anti-war film, On the Beach.

But it was Psycho, director Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 horror film, that made Perkins — and his character Norman Bates — film legends.

And it was a role which Perkins found hard to escape, and grew to resent.

He played the owner of a lonely motel where vicious murders take place, including the stabbing of a character played by Janet Leigh. That murder scene, shot in a shower with quick flashes from many angles, is among the most famous in film history.

The movie proved so popular that Perkins starred in two film sequels — and directed Psycho III — but none received the acclaim of the first.

He also starred in Psycho IV: The Beginning, produced for cable television in 1990.

"For about 10 years after I made the movie, Norman dominated my life," he said in 1983. "I always liked Norman, but it was a fact that if someone approached me, I could be pretty sure it was a question about Psycho — even years later.

"I resented it. I really did."

He won the Cannes film festival's best actor award for his role opposite Ingrid Bergman in the 1960 film Goodbye Again.

Among his other films, Perkins appeared in Winter Kills (1979), a black comedy about the younger half-brother of a slain U.S. president who goes into politics to find out the truth behind the murder and discovers a labyrinthine, long-hidden plot.

He also played a basketball player in the movie Tall Story, which starred Jane Fonda as a cheerleader.

Sophia Loren, who starred with Perkins in the 1958 film Desire Under The Elms and Five Miles To Midnight in 1962, said she was shocked by the news of his death.

"I'm so sad because we had a great experience together in Paris in Five Miles to Midnight and we became good friends since," she said in a phone interview from her home near Santa Barbara.

Perkins also appeared in Fear Strikes Out, Catch-22, Murder on the Orient Express, Ffolkes and The Black Hole.

His stage credits included the Broadway version of the hit play Equus, for which he won acclaim.

Perkins leaves his wife, photographer Berinthia Berenson Perkins; sons, Osgood Perkins, 18, and Elvis Perkins, 16.

Funeral services were pending.