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Anthony Perkins: American "Psycho"

Published: 4/4/2012
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Anthony Perkins (Wikimedia Commons)

When we think of Alfred Hitchcock's iconic horror film Psycho, there's usually one scene that springs to mind – the shower scene. Featuring Janet Leigh as the beautiful woman brutally attacked while showering, it's the movie's most enduring moment for good reason; it's chilling and terrifying, and it was like nothing else that was being done in movies in 1960.

But truly, it's one short scene in a movie that's a horror classic from beginning to end, and much of that classic status is due to the critically acclaimed performance of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the boy whose best friend was his mother.

Reviewers called Perkins' performance the best of his career, though he wasn't even nominated for an Oscar (he did win best actor from the International Board of Motion Picture Reviewers). In some ways, his performance was perhaps too good – he so masterfully played a mentally ill killer that he became typecast. Although perhaps equally adept at other types, he continued to play the murderers and the mentally disturbed, as well as reprising his role as Norman Bates in several Psycho sequels. Once he was asked if he could do it over again, would he still accept the role of Bates, knowing he would be typecast in the future. Perkins responded with a confident "yes."

Anthony Perkins (Everett Collection)

Anthony Perkins (Everett Collection)

Perkins would have turned 80 today, had he not died Sept. 12, 1992, almost 20 years ago. He had dozens of movies to his credit, but for most of us, his name is synonymous with Norman Bates, thanks to his career-defining performance. It's a testament to his great acting skill.

Written by Linnea Crowther

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