30 years without Anthony Perkins, the tortured ‘Psycho’ star who made AIDS visible

Alex Anderson. Anthony Perkins became a legend of the cinema with his role as a reserved and repressed adult in Psychosis (1960). In addition, the actor was a person with a tortured character. And quite jealous of his personal life. Indeed, when a certain tabloid published in 1990 that he had AIDS, his representative undertook to ensure that the information was “categorically false”. However, Perkins himself, who already had the fly behind his ear, chose to get tested for HIV, then known as gay cancer. It was there that the American discovered that he was HIV-positive.

This diagnosis was devastating for both the actor and his photographer wife Barry Berenson, who threw a surprise party for her husband for his 60th birthday in April 1992. When several of his friends told Perkins he looked exhausted, Berry begged him to let him tell them. “I told her, ‘Look, I’m going to share this with some close friends that I trust, because if I don’t, I’m going to go crazy,'” she claimed. “I’m not that good an actress. I told Tony I couldn’t do this charade. He didn’t like me telling one or two people, but then he said, “Oh, you’re telling too many.”

For some time, Perkins tried in every possible way to hide his true state of health from the press (he even checked into the hospital several times under a false name), but the constant harassment of reporters made his task difficult. A few days before he died in mid-September 1992 of complications from AIDS, the dying actor dictated a statement to his two teenage children, intending it to be read after his death.

To be honest, the New Yorker was never bad at pretending. His father was the prestigious stage actor Osgood Perkins, and he himself made his debut at the age of fourteen in the summer theater. At the age of sixteen, he was already on his first tour and while still a student at Columbia University, he had the opportunity to star in his first film. The actress (1953), directed by George Cukor. Shortly before graduating, Perkins auditioned with Ilya Kazan for the lead role in east of Eden (1955), although the character ended up in the hands of an as-yet-unknown James Dean. However, the director asked him to replace John Kerr Tea and sympathy. His performance in this play attracted the attention of Hollywood, who suddenly saw in this attractive and lithe actor, almost 1.90 meters tall, one of the new teen idols.

Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the film the great testPerkins gained some fame as a character actor for his way of portraying boys with emotional distress and mental disorders.

Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the film the great test, Perkins gained some fame as a character actor for his portrayal of boys with emotional distress and mental disorders. The culmination came in 1960, when he was placed under the command of Alfred Hitchcock to roll Psychosiswhere he gave life Norman Bates, a charming but sinister man who runs a motel, practices embalming and lives with his dead mother in an old Victorian house. At one point, in what is considered one of the best sequences in film history, a female figure bursts into the bathroom where the hero of Janet Lee he takes a shower and stabs her to death.

More than one would think that the unbalanced Norman Bates fits Perkins like a glove. Like his most famous character, the actor was quite introverted (he hardly interacted with his colleagues), had grown up under the influence of a possessive mother (as an adult he continued to be dominated by women such as Helen Merrill, who gave up her career as a photographer to support the actor), and had been suffering from mental health problems for some time. However, he had no homicidal tendencies. “I like meeting the press,” he once said. “They give me an opportunity for journalists and people to get to know me a little bit better and start thinking that I’m not a maniacal killer who goes out at midnight to kill the first person who crosses his path.

Psychosis He shot his main character to international fame, but also made him a typical actor. Since the premiere of this genre masterpiece, Perkins has gone through the odd dry spell, achieving several musical successes, appearing in several plays and appearing in films such as the thrilling The processby Orson Welles, or Murder on the Orient Expressfilm adaptation of a mystery of Agatha Christie. Although the truth is that he never again achieved the success that the most famous psychopath of the seventh art earned him.

The actor even commented that he should get rid of Norman Bates. But human behavior is contradictory in nature. So in 1983 he shot Psycho II, which some critics said lacked the depth and darkness of the master of suspense, but nevertheless became one of the highest-grossing films of the year. then appeared in Psycho IIIwho agreed to participate only in exchange for directing it, and c Psycho IV, which delves into the dark past of a troubled motel manager. He even capitalized on his status as a horror movie icon by traveling to different cities in Spain to promote the horror show at some theme parks. “I consider myself just an actor who works hard,” he once explained, “who has to support a wife and two children, who isn’t a millionaire because he hasn’t done great TV series, who is what makes money and who even He is a cook and a driver for his children».

Before marrying his best friend at school, the actor admitted that he had relationships with a person of the same sex (although the encounter seemed “unsatisfying”).

Before marrying his school best friend, the actor admitted that he had relationships with a person of the same sex (although the encounter seemed “unsatisfying”) and that he did not manage to sleep with a woman until he was 39 years old. Apparently, her male lovers included the actor and the dancer Grover Dalewith whom he shared an apartment for six years, or the extremely blonde Tab Hunter, an icon of golden Hollywood and one of the few translators of the time to come out as gay over time. “Life was difficult for me because I was living two lives at the same time. My personal life, which I have never told anyone about. And then my Hollywood life, where I was focused on my work and success,” Hunter admitted in his autobiography, in which the agent who discovered him henry wilsonalso homosexual, pushed out of the closet after leaking in 1955 of Confidential arresting him at a gay party, in exchange for the tabloid not bringing another of his clients out of the closet, rock hudson.

It’s easy to see why Perkins was so reluctant to openly discuss his sexual orientation, or why he found it so difficult to overcome the internalized homophobia he’d suffered from for years. By the time he was a teenager, the country’s sodomy laws severely punished homosexuality. During his time at university, one of his gay friends ended up hospitalized after being beaten by another student and his minister father. The funniest thing is that the only person charged with a crime is the poor victim of the beatings. After landing in Hollywood, Perkins came under pressure from an industry that, to the gallery, advised gay actors to feign pure affairs so that (at best) their reputations would not be tarnished.

I decided not to make this thread public. [mi enfermedad] because, to misquote Casablanca, I’m not very noble, but it doesn’t take much to know that an old actor’s troubles don’t really matter in this crazy world,” reads the posthumous text of an actor who, somehow, helped make HIV visible and combat the huge stigma of the disease that then caused panic. “There are many people who believe that this disease is revenge from God, but I believe that it was sent to teach people how to love and understand each other and have compassion for others. I learned more about love and human understanding among the people I met on this great adventure in the world of AIDS than I did from the people in the cruel and competitive world I lived in.”

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