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Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh

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Film actress Janet Leigh, once Tony Curtis’s wife, is best remembered for her shower scene as Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, 'Psycho.'

Who Was Janet Leigh?

Actress Janet Leigh's first film was The Romance of Rosy Ridge in 1947. She was cast in a number of films in the late 1940s and early 1950s. For her performance in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), she won a Golden Globe Award. In the mid-1960s, she started acting in television movies and minor films. She died on October 3, 2004, in Beverly Hills, California.

Early Life

Screen actress Janet Leigh was born Jeanette Helen Morrison in Merced, California, on July 6, 1927. Leigh attended grammar school and high school in Stockton, California, skipping several grades and graduating at age 15. She studied music and psychology at the College of the Pacific. She was married twice at a young age, first in 1942 to John Carlyle (annulled), and then to Stanley Reames in 1946 (they divorced in 1948).

Acclaimed Actress and 'Psycho'

Leigh was discovered by retired MGM actress Norma Shearer who saw a picture of her at a ski resort and recommended her for a screen test. Leigh landed an MGM contract, and her first film was The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947), with Van Johnson.

Leigh was cast in ingenue roles in a number of films in the late 1940s and early 1950s and worked with many leading stars of the time. In 1951, she married actor Tony Curtis and had two daughters, Kelly Lee (1956) and Jamie Lee (1958). Leigh and Curtis appeared in five films together, most notably Houdini (1953). In 1962, she divorced Curtis and married director Robert Brandt.

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Leigh's most successful movies include Little Women (1949), Angels in the Outfield (1951), Scaramouche (1952), The Black Shield of Falworth (1954) and Orson Welles's film noir Touch of Evil (1958). However, she is best known for her shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)—one of the most terrifying moments ever committed to film. For her performance, Leigh won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award (best supporting actress).

Later Years

Leigh's career began to wane in the 1960s. She co-starred opposite Frank Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), and with Paul Newman in Harper (1966). She then appeared in a series of made-for-television movies and minor feature films.

Leigh died at the age of 77 in her Beverly Hills home in October 2004 after suffering for a year from vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels.

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