Janet Leigh, star of Psycho shower scene, dies at 77

Janet Leigh, the wholesome beauty whose shocking murder in the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho was credited with making generations of film fans think twice about stepping into a motel room shower, has died at her Beverly Hills home, her daughter’s publicist confirmed on Monday. She was 77.

The actress’ husband, Robert Brandt, and her daughters, actresses Kelly Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis, were at their mother’s side when she died on Sunday, said Heidi Schaeffer, a spokesperson for Jamie Lee Curtis.

“She died peacefully at home,” said Schaeffer.

Lee had suffered from vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, for the past year.

The stunning blonde beauty enjoyed a long and distinguished career, appearing in such films as the 1962 political thriller The Manchurian Candidate and in Orson Welles’ 1958 film noir classic Touch of Evil.

But she gained her most lasting fame in Psycho as the embezzling office worker who is stabbed to death in the shower by cross-dressing madman Anthony Perkins. The role earned her an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress.

Hitchcock compiled the shower sequence in 70-odd takes of two and three seconds each, for which Leigh spent seven days in the shower.
Rumours circulated that she was nude, but she wore a flesh-colored moleskin.

Although tame by today’s standards, the scene was shocking for the time for its brutality.

Leigh wrote in her 1995 book Psycho: Behind the Scenes in the Classic Thriller that the filming was easy until the last 20 seconds when she had to express total horror as her character was being slashed to death.

She often said she hadn’t been able to take a shower since the movie. “It’s not a hype, not something I thought would be good for publicity,” she insisted. “Honest to gosh, it’s true.” - Sapa-AP

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