Before we get to our quiz, some things you should know about Anthony Perkins. 

He made his first movie — 1953’s The Actress, a George Cukor/MGM effort starring Spencer Tracy and Jean Simmons — while still a transfer student at Columbia University. He was considered by director Elia Kazan for the role in East of Eden, which turned out to mark the movie debut of James Dean.

Prior to that Perkins — in the footsteps of his actor-father Osgood Perkins — carved out a decent career star on the Broadway stage. He was actor John Kerr’s replacement as the touchy adolescent in the play, Tea and Sympathy.

He later combined Hollywood and Broadway with principal roles in 1957’s Look Homeward Angel and 1960’s Greenwillow, among other stage productions. And, surprise, Perkins turned himself into a pretty decent singer, a facet not exploited in his movies.

What set him up in Hollywood — via a seven-year deal with Paramount Pictures — was his second movie, William Wyler’s Friendly Persuasion, with Perkins costarring with Gary Cooper (there they are pictured above) as a part of a family defending its religious values in the context of the American Civil War. For his portrayal of a young, sensitive Quaker, Perkins was nominated for best supporting actor Oscar.

Four years later, the first edition of Psycho arrived.

Before that, in 1956, portrayed mentally troubled Boston Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall in Fear Strikes Out.  Perkins’ performance was sharply panned by some critics who complained that he threw the baseball “like a girl.”

Perhaps Perkins’ most unheralded movie (currently) is 1961’s Goodbye Again, in which he costarred with no less than Ingrid Bergman. The picture was shot in Paris, and won Perkins the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. It rolled up solid box office in France but bombed in the U.S.

Perkins settled down to conventional marriage in his early 40’s, to stylish Berry Berenson, in 1973.  The union produced two sons, and lasted until the actor’s death of AIDs-related complications in 1992. On Sept. 11, 2001, the widowed Berenson was a passenger on the American Airlines Flight #11 out of Boston, the one that terrorists hijacked and slammed into New York’s World Trade Center.

On to our Quiz.  As usual, to review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:

1) Answer: d) Friendly Persuasion.  See intro above.

2) Answer: b) False. A person close to Perkins early in his career — and who is named in the next answer — wrote this about the actor: Beneath the boyishness, there was a lot of tension — not news to anyone who’s seen Tony onscreen. The familiar body language wasn’t an act. He slouched around with hands shoved deep in his pocket, and he jiggled his foot unconsciously — a nervous twitch. I figured he was just hyperanxious.

3) Answer: d) Tab Hunter, who wrote extensively about his romance with Perkins in his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter: Confidential.

4) Answer: b) Perkins played the deranged Norman Bates, manager of  Godforsaken Bates Motel, in four movies:  the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock original, Psycho; in the first sequel, 1983’s Psycho II; in 1986’s Psycho III, which Perkins also directed; and in 1990’s Psycho IV: The Beginning.

5) Answer:  b) False.  Perkins was philosophical about his close association with Psycho and Norman Bates. I never look backwards, he was quoted as saying in 1982. I made my first movie over 30 years ago. Without ‘Psycho’ who’s to say if I would have endured.

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