Friday, July 6, 2012

Remembering Janet Leigh

Jeanette Helen Morrison was born in Merced, California on July 6, 1927. Jeanette was the only child of a couple who often moved from town to town. Living in apartments, she was a bright child who skipped several grades and finished high school when she was only 15. A lonely child, she would spend much of her time at movie theaters. She was a student, studying music and psychology, at the University of the Pacific when she was "discovered" while visiting her parents in Northern California. Her father was working the desk at a ski resort where her mother worked as a maid. Retired MGM actress Norma Shearer saw a picture of Janet on the front desk and asked if she could borrow it. This led to a screen test at MGM and a starring role in “The Romance of Rosy Ridge” (1947). MGM was looking for a young naive country girl and Janet filled the bill perfectly. She would play the young ingĂ©nue in a number of films and work with such stars as Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, Orson Welles and Judy Garland. She appeared in a number of successful films, among them “Act of Violence” (1948), “Little Women” (1949), “Holiday Affair” (1949), “Angels in the Outfield” (1951), “Scaramouche” (1952), “Houdini”, “The Naked Spur” (both 1953), “The Black Shield of Falworth” (1954), “My Sister Eileen (1955), “Safari” (1956), and the Orson Welles film noir classic “Touch of Evil” (1958). Janet's films ranged from comedies to westerns to musicals to dramas. Of her more than 50 movies, she was best-known for the 45 minutes she was on screen in Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho” (1960). Even though her character was killed off early in the picture, she would be nominated for an Academy Award and receive a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actress. She was married to actor Tony Curtis [1925-2010] from 1951 to 1962 and is the mother of actresses Kelly Curtis [1956- ] and Jamie Lee Curtis [1958- ]. Janet Leigh died on October 3, 2004 of vasculitis in Beverly Hills, California. Leigh appeared in only one Euro-western “Kid Rodelo” (1966) with Don Murray and Broderick Crawford. Today we remember Janet Leigh on what would have been her 85th birthday.

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