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Creator / Janet Leigh

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"The dream factory of that time was much simpler. As media outlets grew, everything became so complicated."

Janet Leigh (born Jeanette Helen Morrison; July 6, 1927 – October 3, 2004) was an American actress whose career began during The Golden Age of Hollywood and spanned more than fifty years.

Discovered by Norma Shearer, Leigh made her acting debut on radio in 1946 and secured a movie contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer the following year. Early in her career, she appeared in several popular films spanning a wide variety of genres, though she played mostly dramatic roles during the latter half of the 1950s, in such films as Safari (1956) and Touch of Evil (1958), before achieving her most lasting recognition as the doomed Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). For her performance, she was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and received an Academy Award nomination.

Leigh had a highly publicized marriage to Tony Curtis, which ended in divorce in 1962, and after she co-starred in The Manchurian Candidate that same year she scaled back on her career to raise her daughters. She continued to make intermittent film and television appearances, however, including two films with her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, The Fog (1980) and Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998). Leigh passed away in October 2004 at the age of 77, following a year-long battle with vasculitis (an inflammation of the blood vessels).

And yes, she refused to take showers for decades after making Psycho, until she became physically unable to use a bathtub.

Not related to Vivien Leigh, who also used "Leigh" as a stage name. In fact, she was concerned when the name was first presented to her that there might be some confusion with Vivien, but her co-star in her first film, Van Johnson, reminded her that he himself shared his first name with Van Heflin, and yet "there's two Van's and it hasn't hurt either of us."

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Tropes associated with her work:

  • Actor Allusion: invoked
    • Her role in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later features a few nods to her role in Psycho.
      • She drives the same car Marion buys to throw the cop off her trail.
      • She mentions that the shower is clogged, referencing the death scene.
      • An excerpt from the soundtrack plays when Norma and Laurie are talking.
    • In The Manchurian Candidate there's a newspaper clipping of her with then-husband Tony Curtis visible.
  • Dawson Casting: invoked She was already in her twenties playing the teenage Meg in Little Women.
  • Dead Star Walking: Infamously in Psycho. She has about thirty minutes of screen time, is horrifically murdered and the plot then becomes a Reverse Whodunnit. At the time it stunned audiences who expected her to survive longer. Although it is worth noting, she's given the And Starring credit as opposed to being top-billed.
  • Doing It for the Art: invoked She nearly wasn't in Touch of Evil because her agent turned the part down without asking her - assuming she would be offended by the low salary. Orson Welles had anticipated this and sent her a personal letter. Janet then signed on, telling her agent that she would be happy to work with Orson Welles no matter what the pay was.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Subverted. She broke her arm before filming Touch of Evil, but they resorted to tricks to hide the cast during shots. For the more revealing motel scenes, she took it off for filming and put it back on afterwards.
  • I Am Not Spock: invoked She joked that her turn in Psycho was so memorable, it almost ruined her career. Even so, it's the film she's most remembered for these days — despite her character dying halfway through the movie.
  • Life Imitates Art: invoked She was terrified of showering after seeing the famous scene in Psycho - claiming it made her realise how vulnerable a woman was when she showered.
  • Non-Singing Voice: invoked An American Dream saw her singing dubbed by Jackie Ward.
  • Old Shame: invoked She did Night of the Lepus because the filming location meant less time away from her family, and later said "I've forgotten about that picture as much as I can."
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted. She wanted her Stage Name to be "Leigh" but was afraid she would be confused with Vivien Leigh. Van Johnson apparently then reminded her of Van Heflin – "there's two Vans and it hasn't hurt either of us."
  • Real-Life Relative: invoked She starred with her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in The Fog and Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later.
  • Sexy Sweater Girl: Leigh was quite often costumed in snug tops that showed off her bosom, possibly most famously in Holiday Affair (a Christmas movie!), in which RKO boss Howard Hughes insisted Leigh wear tight sweater and bullet bra ensembles so dramatic that co-star Robert Mitchum mentioned it in his autobiography.
  • Star-Making Role: invoked Portraying Bess Houdini in Houdini marked her transition to lead roles.
  • Those Two Actors: invoked Starred in five films with Tony Curtis.
  • What Could Have Been: invoked

Janet Leigh in fiction: