‘Psycho’ Actress Janet Leigh Dies at 77
NEW YORK (Oct. 4) – Janet Leigh, the wholesome beauty whose shocking murder in the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller ”Psycho” was credited with making generations of film fans think twice about stepping into a motel room shower, has died. She was 77.
The actress’ husband, Robert Brandt, and her daughters, actresses Kelly Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis, were at their mother’s side when she died Sunday at her Beverly Hills home, said Heidi Schaeffer, a spokeswoman for Jamie Lee Curtis.
”She died peacefully at home,” Schaeffer told The Associated Press on Monday. Lee had suffered from vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, for the past year.
The stunning blonde enjoyed a long and distinguished career, appearing in such films as the 1962 political thriller ”The Manchurian Candidate” and in Orson Welles’ 1958 film noir classic ”Touch of Evil.” But she gained her most lasting fame in ”Psycho” as the embezzling office worker who is stabbed to death in the shower by cross-dressing madman Anthony Perkins. The role earned her an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress.
Hitchcock compiled the shower sequence in 70-odd takes of two and three seconds each, for which Leigh spent seven days in the shower. Rumors circulated that she was nude, but she wore a flesh-colored moleskin.
Although tame by today’s standards, the scene was shocking for the time for its brutality.
Leigh wrote in her 1995 book ”Psycho: Behind the Scenes in the Classic Thriller” that the filming was easy until the last 20 seconds when she had to express total horror as her character was being slashed to death.
She often said she hadn’t been able to take a shower since the movie. ”It’s not a hype, not something I thought would be good for publicity,” she insisted. ”Honest to gosh, it’s true.”