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Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1927-07-06

66 Movies · 6 TV Series


Janet Leigh (born Jeanette Helen Morrison; July 6, 1927 – October 3, 2004) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and author, whose career spanned over five decades. Raised in Stockton, California by working-class parents, Leigh was discovered at 18 by actress Norma Shearer, who helped her secure a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Leigh had her first formal foray into acting, appearing in radio programs before making her film debut in the drama The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947). Early in her career, she appeared in several popular films for MGM which spanned a wide variety of genres, including Act of Violence (1948), Little Women (1949), Angels in the Outfield (1951), Scaramouche (1952), The Naked Spur (1953), and Living It Up (1954). Leigh played mostly dramatic roles during the latter half of the 1950s, in such films as Safari (1956) and Orson Welles's film noir Touch of Evil (1958), but achieved her most lasting recognition as the doomed Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), which earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her highly publicized marriage to actor Tony Curtis ended in divorce in 1962, and after starring in The Manchurian Candidate that same year, Leigh scaled back her career. Intermittently, she continued to appear in films, including Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Harper (1966), Night of the Lepus (1972), and Boardwalk (1979). In late 1975, she made her Broadway debut in a production of Murder Among Friends. She would also go on to appear in two horror films with her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis: The Fog (1980) and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998). In addition to her work as an actress, Leigh also wrote four books between 1984 and 2002, two of which were novels. She died in October 2004 at age 77, following a year-long battle with vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels.

Early Life

The only child of Helen Lita (née Westergaard) and Frederick Robert Morrison, Leigh was born Jeanette Helen Morrison on July 6, 1927, in Merced, California. Her maternal grandparents were immigrants from Denmark, and her father had Scots-Irish and German ancestry. Shortly after Leigh's birth, the family relocated to Stockton, where she spent her early life. She was brought up in poverty, as her father struggled to support the family with his factory employment, and he took various additional jobs after the Great Depression.Leigh was raised Presbyterian and sang in the local church choir throughout her childhood. In 1941, when her paternal grandfather became terminally ill, the family relocated to Merced where they moved into her grandparents' home. She attended Weber Grammar School in Stockton, and later Stockton High School. Leigh excelled in academics and graduated from high school at age sixteen. During her final year of high school, Leigh married eighteen-year-old John Kenneth Carlisle in Reno, Nevada, on August 1, 1942. The marriage was annulled four months later on December 28, 1942. In September 1943, she enrolled at the College of the Pacific (now University of the Pacific), where she majored in music and psychology. While in college, she joined the Alpha Theta Tau sorority, and also sang with the college's a cappella choir. In order to help support her family, she spent Christmas and summer vacations working at retail shops and dime stores, as well as working at the college's information desk during her studies. While a university student, Leigh met Stanley Reames, a U.S. Navy sailor who was enrolled at a nearby V-12 Program. Leigh and Reames married on October 5, 1945, when she was eighteen; their marriage, however, was also short-lived, and they divorced four years later on September 7, 1949.

Movies & TV Series

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