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Janet Leigh – MovieActors.com

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Leigh in PSYCHO.

About Janet Leigh (1927 – 2004)

Janet Leigh was born Jeanette Helen Morrison on July 6, 1927, in Merced, California; the only daughter of her parents, who were Helen and Frederick Morrison. The family moved a lot, from community to community. Janet did very well in school, being a gifted child. She skipped several grades and graduated from high school at 15 years old. Starting her adulthood at such an early age proved to be challenging for her.

At a very young age, Janet found herself experiencing very adult events. Janet enrolled in the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, studying music and psychology. While she was at college, her father was working at a desk at the Sugar Bowl ski resort, where he had her picture on his desk. Actress Norma Shearer saw it, and showed the picture to a talent agent, Lew Wasserman, who got Janet a contract with MGM. Because Janet had no acting experience, she worked with a drama coach, Lillian Burns.

While Janet dropped out of college for a chance at a film career in Hollywood, she enrolled in night school at USC in 1947, the same year she made her film debut in THE ROMANCE OF ROSEY RIDGE. She played opposite Van Johnson as his love interest. Janet received star billing for the first time in a Lassie film, HILLS OF HOME; 1948.

Several successful movies in Janet Leigh's early career would include LITTLE WOMEN (1949), ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (1951), SCARAMOUCHE (1952), TOUCH OF EVIL (1958).

While her film career was rolling along, her personal life was a trainwreck. Janet was unlucky at love, making bad choices in marriage partners. At 15, Janet was briefly married to John Carlisle, but the marriage was stopped in the same year, probably by her parents. Janet and John had eloped to Las Vegas, and she passed herself off as being 18.

When she was legal to marry at eighteen, Janet married again to Stanley Reames. This marriage lasted just four years, ending in 1949.

In 1951, Janet married the egocentric Tony Curtis. Janet truly loved and honored him. When asked about being billed second to Tony in the film HOUDINI, she repleid, " I don't care if he's made one picture and I've made a hundred. I will always take second billing to my husband."

In an interview, a few years before he died, Tony admitted that he was a sex addict in his early years, because of the trauma he suffered with his own family in childhood. Jane and Tony had two children; Kelly and Jamie, who both became actresses.

Janet and Tony were in five films together; HOUDINI;(1953), THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH;(1954), THE VIKINGS;(1958), THE PERFECT FURLOUGH;(1958), and WHO WAS THAT LADY?;(1960).

With a broken arm and every trick in the book to hide it, Janet Leigh was still able to play her role in TOUCH OF EVIL in 1958. Janet's arm was in a cast when she showed up for production, so they took her arm out of the cast to film.

The famous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film; PSYCHO, is what Janet Leigh would best be remembered for; making women think twice about hopping into the shower.

Even though Janet Leigh is killed off early in the picture, she would be nominated in 1961 for an Academy Award and receive a Golden Globe for her performance in PSYCHO. These awards probably didn't sit well with her husband Tony Curtis, who may have been bothered by his wife's success. One of the reasons why he married her was to help his own career, and here she is, winning awards.

On February 8th, 1960, Janet was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1777 Vine Street.

On the set of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE;(1962), she was served with divorce papers from Tony, who wanted to marry another lady, leaving Janet with their two little girls to raise by herself, abandoning his daughters. He went on and had two more children with his new bride.

Daughter Jamie Lee Curtis had stated in an interview that her father had no interest in being a father, because of his own unmet emotional needs. Jamie had finally accepted his flaws as a person. His behavior was still wrong, but was understandable.

Thankfully, Janet finally found the love of her life in 1962; marrying stockbroker, Robert Brandt. He was a man who stepped up to the plate to be the father figure for Kelly and Jamie. After she married Robert, Janet worked her acting roles around the needs of her family, doing jobs near to her family, and cutting down on roles that would require a long shoot far away.

Some highlights of her acting film projects from the 60's and on, are BYE BYE BIRDIE;(1963), WIVES AND LOVERS; (1963),HARPER;(1966),THREE ON A COUCH;(1966), GRAND SLAM;(1967), the comedy, HELLO DOWN THERE;(1969)., BOARDWALK;(1979), and THE FOG;(1980).

Also in the mid-sixties and throughout the rest of her career, Janet began working on television, giving her time to be with her family, instead of being away on a film shoot.

Some of the TV movies that she was cast in are: HONEYMOON WITH A STRANGER;(TV movie-1969) HOUSE ON GREENAPPLE ROAD;(TV Movie 1970), THE DEADLY DREAM;(TV Movie 1971), TELETHON;(TV Movie-1977), MIRROR, MIRROR;(TV Movie;1979), and the 1998 TV movie, IN MY SISTER'S SHADOW.

Her work on TV series includes: THE RED SKELTON HOUR;(1966-1969), FANTASY ISLAND; (TV Series;1979-1982), TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED;(TV Series 1982-1984), THE LOVE BOAT:(TV Series 1978-1985), and guest star roles on a variety of TV series, such as: THE VIRGINIAN, CIRCLE OF FEAR, LOVE STORY, COLUMBO, MATT HOUSTON, MURDER SHE WROTE, and FAMILY LAW.

Janet Leigh's last acting role was portraying Mrs. Witt, in the 2005 comedy, BAD GIRLS FROM VALLEY HIGH, that was released after she died. It was a campy, tongue-in-cheek film aimed at the younger generation's funny bone.

On October 3, 2004, Janet Leigh passed away in Beverly Hills, California from vasculitis.

Janet Leigh's notable movie credits include...

BAD GIRLS FROM VALLEY HIGH (2005)
HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER (1998)
THE FOG (1980)
TWO IS A HAPPY NUMBER (1972)
HELLO DOWN THERE (1969)
WIVES AND LOVERS (1963)
PSYCHO (1960)
TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)
ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (1951)
IF WINTER COMES (1947)



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Janet Leigh in BYE BYE BIRDIE (1963).

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Janet Leigh with Tony Curtis in THE VIKINGS.

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Janet Leigh in PSYCHO (1960).