“This was the fifties”: Hollywood’s First Serial Killer Actor Immortalized by Alfred Hitchcock Refused to Reveal He’s Gay Before AIDS Killed Him

Anthony Perkins, known for playing Norman Bates in 1960's Psycho, hid the fact that he was gay his whole life.

"This was the fifties": Hollywood's First Serial Killer Actor Immortalized by Alfred Hitchcock Refused to Reveal He's Gay Before AIDS Killed Him


  • Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is one of the most influential films ever made.
  • Anthony Perkins played Norman Bates in the film, a character who has since become a horror icon.
  • Perkins, although married to Berry Berenson, hid the fact that he was gay his whole life.
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Alfred Hitchcock’s films have been some of the iconic films that have shaped the genre of suspense thrillers. He is known as the Master of Suspense, and his filmography as a director has been an inspirational one. Films such as To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho have been considered his best films.

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is potentially the best suspense horror film
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is potentially the best suspense horror/thriller film

The latter is his most popular film featuring one of cinema’s most feared antagonists, Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins. The actor also managed to earn an Oscar nomination for the 1956 film Friendly Persuasion. However, he held one secret about his sexuality due to the regressive ideologies of the 50s.

Anthony Perkins Hid the Fact That He Was Gay Throughout His Life

Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

Anthony Perkins rose to fame when he starred as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. His performance as the crazed serial killer won him enormous praise, and the character has gone on to become one of the most influential movie characters ever in history. Despite all the fame and accolades, the actor had to hide one aspect of his life from the public eye.


In the book, Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins by Charles Winecoff, one of Perkins’ early lovers, a Harvard scholar named William emphasized that he and Perkins were very much in love but everyone saw them as friends. He further stated that in the fifties, there was a rampant homophobic environment, and Perkins couldn’t be openly gay. The excerpt read (via Entertainment Weekly)

”Within the circumstances, it was a love affair, but to anyone else, we were ‘college buddies. Gay lovers who acted like gay lovers were something that only existed in the Greek Isles…. This was the fifties, a public person could not go public, even if he wanted to. And Tony didn’t want to.”

The actor went on to marry Berry Berenson in 1973 and went on to have two sons, including director Oz Perkins. With many people knowing that Perkins was gay, they thought the marriage was not going to work. However, the couple made it work and were married until Perkins died in 1992 from complications caused by AIDS.

Gus Van Sant Wanted to Experiment With His Shot For Shot Remake of Psycho

Gus Van Sant's Psycho was considered inferior to the original film
Gus Van Sant’s Psycho was considered inferior to the original film

Director Gus Van Sant made the bold decision to remake Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho with his 1998 film of the same name. The film was a shot-by-shot remake of the 1960 film starring Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, William H. Macy, and Anne Heche. However, the film did not receive the same love from audiences as Hitchcock’s film.


The film was a critical and commercial disaster. Van Sant reflected on his intention of making the film to Vulture, saying that he wanted to experiment and see how close he could get to replicating the original. He wanted his film to have the same length, rhythm, dialogue, etc, as the original. However, in the end, there had to be some changes made. He said,

“It’s as close as we could get. The shots were even supposed to be the same length, but in the end, when we cut it together, it seemed like the shots needed to be different lengths and have different rhythms. Psycho was another cinematic experiment.”

Van Sant’s intentions are understandable, but it was seen as lazy and derivative by audiences. The remake film won two Razzie awards, including Worst Remake and Worst Director. Fans can watch/rent the original film on Amazon Prime.


Written by Rahul Thokchom

Articles Published: 949

Rahul Thokchom is a content writer at Fandomwire who is passionate about covering the world of pop culture and entertainment. He has a Masters Degree in English that contributes to the richness and creativity in his works.