Anthony Perkins was a haunting, lanky character actor who achieved his greatest fame as deranged motel keeper Norman Bates in the classic Hitchcock thriller "Psycho."
The product of a tormented childhood, Perkins' film career was most noted for roles that brought out the darker sides of human nature, in particular the four "Psycho" films. In those films, as in life, Perkins was tense, repressed, a man of few words.
Later in his life, Perkins talked candidly about the psychological torment he suffered as the only child of 1930s stage and film star Osgood Perkins.
During his early years, his father was frequently gone, traveling with theater productions or filming in Hollywood. Perkins, who remained at home in Manhattan, grew "abnormally" attached to his mother, Janet, and became "jealous" whenever his father returned, he told People magazine.
He wished his father would die—and suddenly, when Perkins was 5, his father did die, of a heart attack, saddling the child with a crushing guilt, which poisoned his relationship with his mother.
"I assumed that my wanting [my father] to be dead had actually killed him," Perkins told writer Brad Darrach in 1983. "I prayed and prayed for my father to come back. I remember long nights of crying in bed. For years, I nursed the hope that he wasn't really dead. He became a mythic being to me, to be dreaded and appeased."
Perkins' film career began in 1953, when he appeared with Spencer Tracy, Teresa Wright and Jean Simmons in "The Actress." He made his Broadway stage debut in the 1954 hit "Tea and Sympathy," in which he won praise for his portrayal of a sensitive adolescent.
Even after his role in "Psycho" drew raves, Perkins' emotional troubles continued to plague him. In a later interview, he described how fame brought him the attentions of numerous leading women, whose advances left him "shook up" and scared.
Although he admitted in interviews to having had a sexual encounters with a man, Perkins described "that kind of sex" as "unsatisfying." He went through intensive psychotherapy and, at age 39, had his first close relationship with a woman.
Two years later, at 41, Perkins married and had two sons. He died at age 60 of AIDs-related complications. He had kept his illness a secret until shortly before his death.
|1956||Best Supporting Actor||Friendly Persuasion||Nomination|