Monday, April 4, 2011

Born On This Day- April 4th... Closet Case Anthony Perkins

Artist Don Bachardy & longtime friend: ''Of course we'd heard Tony married. I thought that was just awfully odd behavior for him. Did he honestly think that marriage to Berry Berenson (sister of actress Marisa) could make him a heterosexual?'' Anthony Perkins had a taste of the best men of late 20th century, having had affairs with: Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Rudolf Nureyev, Leonard Bernstein, James Dean, Stephen Sondheim, & dancer/choreographer Grover Dale, with whom Perkins had a 6 year relationship before his marriage to Berenson.

He was a very talented, Oscar nominated actor of stage, screen & TV, but one unforgettable movie-1960's Psycho resulted in the kind of typecasting that kills a bright career. The heir apparent to James Dean after a string of star making stage performances in Tea & Sympathy & Look Homeward, Angel, by 1981, Anthony Perkins was reduced to doing Psycho sequels & commercials in Japan.

The era of Perkins, Tab Hunter & Rock Hudson was an especially claustrophobic & chancy period for gay actors. Longtime Perkin's affair- Tab Hunter: ''It was the excruciating dance of the 1950s''. There were men only private parties, the Times Square gay porno theaters where Perkins sometimes passively watched other men have sex, the arranged dates with starlets for Modern Screen, & the fear gay actors had that magazines like Confidential would expose them, the way it did with Tab Hunter, one of Perkins' first lovers. It was the 1950s, a public person could not go public, even if he wanted to, & Perkins didn't want to.

Who would have suspected that he way gay?

Perkins was nothing if not ambitious. Perkins' buddy Alan Sues:''Nothing was going to get in the way of his career". He lived platonically for years with a domineering older woman- Helen Merrill while enjoying sex with a long line of male lovers.

Yet Perkins' puzzling marriage to Berenson in 1973 seemed more than just a marriage of convenience. Berenson, who'd had a schoolgirl crush on Perkins, pursued him relentlessly, & the couple eventually had 2 sons- Osgood & Elvis. Perkins was devoted to Berenson & his boys, though his gay friends privately doubted his claims that he was faithful to her. Perkins, in trying to convince Hollywood he was straight by marrying, may have actually brought himself real happiness. Closeted Dominick Dunne:''It was a real sense of marriage betweeen them. Whatever they had, it was wonderful. I mean, it was a real & loving family."

Perkins acknowledged he had AIDS posthumously, in a statement dictated to his sons, Osgood & Elvis: ''I chose not to go public about this because, to misquote Casablanca, 'I'm not too much at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of one old actor don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy old world.'' Perkins died at age 60, on September 12, 1992, from complications of AIDS. He was cremated, & his ashes were given to his family. Berenson was killed on American Airlines Flight 11, on September 11th, 2001, the day before the anniversary of his death.

Footnote: As a youth I collected Original Broadway Cast Albums & in my collection was Greenwillow, a stinker, even with a score by the great Frank Loesser.This play was being rehearsed in New York while Anthony Perkins was simultaneously filming Psycho in LA. Over the years in interviews about the infamous shower scene in that film, Anthony Perkins has always said that during the whole week of filming required for that scene, his stand-in was used, because he was in NYC rehearsing for a Broadway play. Greenwillow was that play. The musical did have one magical musical number, a song I like a great deal, but never got to sing in my act- Never Will I Marry, odd, Perkins & I both got married.


  1. He was lovely! Sadly the marriage was a case of him fooling no one else but himself. :)

    Oddly enough, I've seen a few of his films but I've never seen Psycho at all.

  2. Now I hate to be seen as "Miss Picky", but are we absolutely certain that blond-with-flicks with Tab Hunter is actually the brunette Mr Perkins? I rather suspect it is more likely to be the young Rudolf Nureyev... Jx

  3. He was one of my favorites and yet, I knew so little about him. I didn't know he sang.


  4. Jon,
    Correct as always, & a replacment photo has been added. I couldn't find a photo of Tony & Tab together. Talk about discreet!

  5. The dates of his death and the 9/11 are quite interesting! He was such a handsome man and of course like you said - it did close his career! His story makes for a good movie! I hope it's done some day - especially since one of his lovers was Rock and oh yeah - James Dean! How much better can that movie be?

  6. Those are hot photos of Anthony Perkins.
    Call me "Psycho", but I would have gladly invited him into my shower.....(all right - it was a crappy sentiment, but I couldn't help myself.....)

  7. I'm surprised you didn't include Troy Donahue. In Troy's book he talks about their time together and how Psycho altered his life and how Tony ended their friendship/relationship to prevent gay rumors.

    Fun fact I just learned a few weeks ago, Troy is a second cousin once removed!

  8. get it straight finally,only one thing he hadnt relationship with women was just because he feel great anxiety around women,finally got over it thro Principal,He wasnt gay he was bisexual,


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