Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh (July 6, 1927 – October 3, 2004), born Jeanette Helen Morrison, was an American actress. She was the wife of actor Tony Curtis from June 1951 to September 1962 and the mother of Kelly Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Discovered by actress Norma Shearer, Leigh secured a contract with MGM and began her film career in the late 1940s. She appeared in several popular films over the following decade, including Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and Living It Up (a Martin and Lewis-film from 1954).
From the end of the 1950s, she played more dramatic roles in such films as Safari (1958) Touch of Evil (1958) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962), but she achieved her most lasting recognition for her performance as the doomed Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). For this role she was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She continued to appear occasionally in films and television, including two performances with her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in The Fog (1980) and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998).

Early life

The only child of Helen Lita (née Westergaard) and Frederick Robert Morrison, Leigh was born as Jeanette Helen Morrison in Merced, California, and grew up in Stockton, California. In winter 1945, she was discovered by actress Norma Shearer, whose late husband Irving Thalberg had been a senior executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Shearer showed talent agent Lew Wasserman a photograph she had seen of Leigh while vacationing at Sugar Bowl, the ski resort where the girl's parents worked. Shearer later recalled that "that smile made it the most fascinating face I had seen in years. I felt I had to show that face to somebody at the studio." Leigh left the University of the Pacific, where she was studying music and psychology, after Wasserman secured a contract with MGM, despite having no acting experience. She was placed under the tutelage of drama coach Lillian Burns.


Leigh made her film debut in the big budget film The Romance of Rosy Ridge in 1947, as the romantic interest of Van Johnson's character. She got the role when performing Phyllis Thaxter's long speech in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) for the head of the studio talent department in 1946. During the shooting, Leigh's name was first changed to 'Jeanette Reames', then to 'Janet Leigh' and finally back to her birth name 'Jeanette Morrison', because 'Janet Leigh' resembled Vivien Leigh too much. However, Johnson did not like the name and it was finally changed back to 'Janet Leigh'. Leigh initially left college for a film career, but enrolled in night school at the University of Southern California in 1947.
Immediately after the film's release, Leigh was cast opposite Walter Pidgeon and Deborah Kerr in If Winter Comes (1947) in the summer of 1947. Furthermore, due to the box office success of The Romance of Rosy Ridge, Leigh and Johnson were teamed up again in a film project called The Life of Monty Stratton in August 1947. The project was eventually shelved and released in 1949 as The Stratton Story, starring James Stewart and June Allyson. Another film that Leigh was set to star in, before being replaced, was Alias a Gentleman, in which she was cast in April 1947. By late 1947, Leigh was occupied with the shooting of the Lassie film Hills of Home (1948), the first film in which she received star billing.[
In late 1948, Leigh was hailed the 'No. 1 glamor girl' of Hollywood, although known for her polite, generous and down-to-earth persona.
Many movies followed, notably the title role in the musical comedy My Sister Eileen, co-starring Jack Lemmon, Betty Garrett and Dick York. She proved versatile, starring in films as diverse as the baseball farce Angels in the Outfield in 1951 and the tense western The Naked Spur in 1953.
Her initial roles were ingenues based on characters from historical literature, for example in Scaramouche opposite Stewart Granger. By 1958, she moved to more complex roles.
Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil (1958).
Leigh's best-known role was as the morally ambiguous Marion Crane in the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho (1960), featuring its iconic shower murder scene. She received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Leigh had starring roles in many other films, including the Orson Welles film-noir classic Touch of Evil, 1962's The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra and the 1963 musical Bye Bye Birdie based on the hit Broadway show.
She co-starred with third husband Tony Curtis in five films, Houdini (1953), The Black Shield of Falworth (1954), The Vikings (1958), The Perfect Furlough (1959) and Who Was That Lady? (1960).
In 1975, Leigh played a retired Hollywood song and dance star opposite Peter Falk and John Payne in the Columbo episode Forgotten Lady. The episode utilizes footage of Leigh in the (1953) film Walking My Baby Back Home. She also appeared in two horror films with her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, playing a major role in The Fog (1980), and making a brief appearance in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998).
Leigh is also the author of four books. Her first, the memoir "There Really Was a Hollywood", was a NY Times bestseller. This was followed by the novels "House of Destiny" and "The Dream Factory", and the non-fiction book "Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller". Interestingly, daughter Jamie Lee Curtis is also an actress and popular author.

At the age of 16, Leigh married John Kenneth Carlisle in 1943. The marriage was annulled the same year. She married Stanley Reames in 1946 and they were divorced in 1948.
Leigh married her third husband, Tony Curtis, on June 4, 1951. They had two children, Kelly and Jamie Lee, both who subsequently became actresses. Following their divorce in 1962, Leigh married stockbroker Robert Brandt in Las Vegas. They remained married until her death.
She served on the board of directors of the Motion Picture and Television Foundation, a medical-services provider for actors.
Leigh was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California on May 14, 2004.


Leigh died at her home on October 3, 2004, after suffering cardiac arrest. She suffered from vasculitis and peripheral neuropathy, which caused her right hand to become gangrenous.


Year Film Role Other notes
1947 The Romance of Rosy Ridge Lissy Anne MacBean MGM film
If Winter Comes Effie Bright MGM film
1948 Hills of Home Margit Mitchell MGM film
Words and Music Dorothy Feiner Rodgers MGM film
Act of Violence Edith Enley MGM film
1949 Little Women Margaret 'Meg' March/Brooke MGM film
The Red Danube Olga Alexandrova aka Maria Buhlen MGM film
The Doctor and the Girl Evelyn 'Taffy' Heldon MGM film
That Forsyte Woman June Forsythe MGM film
Holiday Affair Connie Ennis RKO film
1951 Strictly Dishonorable Isabelle Perry MGM film
Angels in the Outfield Jennifer Paige MGM film
Two Tickets to Broadway Nancy Peterson RKO film
It's a Big Country Rosa Szabo Xenophon MGM film
1952 Just This Once Lucille 'Lucy' Duncan MGM film
Scaramouche Aline de Gavrillac de Bourbon MGM film
Fearless Fagan Abby Ames MGM film
1953 The Naked Spur Lina Patch MGM film
Confidentially Connie Connie Bedloe MGM film
Houdini Bess Houdini Paramount film
Walking My Baby Back Home Chris Hall Universal film
1954 Prince Valiant Princess Aleta Fox film
Living It Up Wally Cook Paramount film
The Black Shield of Falworth Lady Anne Universal film
Rogue Cop Karen Stephanson MGM film
1955 Pete Kelly's Blues Ivy Conrad WB film
My Sister Eileen Eileen Sherwood Columbia film
1956 Safari Linda Latham Columbia film
1957 Jet Pilot Lt. Anna Marladovna Shannon/Olga Orlief Universal film
1958 Touch of Evil Susan 'Susie' Vargas Universal film
The Vikings Morgana UA film
The Perfect Furlough Lt. Vicki Loren Universal film
1960 Who Was That Lady? Ann Wilson Columbia film
Nominated - Golden Laurel for Top Female Comedy Performance
Psycho Marion Crane Paramount film (later sold to Universal)
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Won - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
2nd place - Golden Laurel for Top Female Supporting Performance
Pepe Herself Columbia film
Cameo appearance
Won - Golden Laurel for Top Female Comedy Performance
1962 The Manchurian Candidate Eugenie Rose Chaney UA film
1963 Bye Bye Birdie Rosie DeLeon Columbia film
Wives and Lovers Bertie Austin Paramount film
1966 Kid Rodelo Nora Paramount film
Harper Susan Harper WB film
Three on a Couch Dr. Elizabeth Acord Columbia film
An American Dream Cherry McMahon WB film
1967 Grand Slam Mary Ann Paramount film
Original title: Ad ogni costo
1969 Hello Down There Vivian Miller Paramount film
The Monk Janice Barnes made-for-television movie
1972 One Is a Lonely Number Gert Meredith MGM film
Night of the Lepus Gerry Bennett MGM film
1979 Boardwalk Florence Cohen AR film
1980 The Fog Kathy Williams AVCO film
1998 Halloween H20: 20 Years Later Norma Watson Dimension film
2004 Bad Girls from Valley High Mrs. Witt Direct-to-video film filmed in 2000


  1. Great tribute, my dear! You have done an excellent job. I love the clip at the Hitchcock Tribute - never saw it before.

    Thank you :)

    - Glenn

  2. Thank you Glenn,yes a great Hitchcock tribute clip love it too,thank you Glenn glad you liked the bio of Janet!