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Senior Starlet Janet Leigh
Born Jeanette Helen Morrison in Merced, California in 1927. Her family moved to Stockton, California, where Jeanette attended grammar and high school and then studied music and psychology at the college of the Pacific. While visiting the ski lodge where Jeanette`s father worked, the actress Norma Shearer was so taken with a photo of Jeanette, that she submitted it to MGM.In fairy-tale fashion, whilst having no dreams of stardom, Jeanette was quickly contracted to the studio and her name was changed to Janet Leigh.
Her screen test for "The Romance of Rosy Ridge" was successful and she landed the leading role along with big box-office star of the time, Van Johnson. During the late forties she appeared and excelled in several "ingenue" roles, putting in accomplished performances and at the same time attracting attention on the screen. This was at a time when the studio system was rapidly changing and Janet was one of the last actresses to work under contract to a specific studio.
In 1950 Janet met Tony Curtis (formerly Bernie Schwartz hailing from tough working-class New York roots) an up-and-coming star and heartthrob himself. The romance blossomed. They were the darlings of the movie-going public and were never off the covers of the movie magazines.At this stage in her career, Janet appeared in several musicals and light comedies.
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Despite studio fears that it would make them less popular with fans Tony and Janet married in 1951, but paradoxically this made them even more popular.After her marriage to Tony, Janet's roles changed and she developed a sexier image, her hair changed to blonde and she was often filmed and photographed in figure-hugging outfits. She appeared alongside husband Tony (for the first of what would be five movies they would make together) in "Houdini"
Throughout the fifties Janet appeared in varied comedy, song and dance and dramatic roles, both on her own and with Tony, and with many of the great names of Hollywood such as John Wayne, Jack Lemmon James Stewart and Kirk Douglas. In 1958 she completed the classic film noir "Touch of Evil" starring with Charlton Heston and directed by Orson Welles. In 1959 she was chosen by Alfred Hitchcock to play the leading lady in "Psycho" based on a novel by Robert Bloch which itself was based on the horrific real-life atrocities of psychopath Ed Gein from Wisconsin. This was to be the role she would be forever remembered for.
Tony Curtis and Janet divorced after 10 years of marriage and Janet was left to bring up their two daughters, Kelly Lee and Jamie-Lee.
The Prophetical "Manchurian Candidate" was another classic in which she appeared, albeit briefly, after which her movie career tended to take a back seat to her family and new husband, stockbroker Robert Brandt, to whom she has been happily married ever since.She appeared in various roles in movies and television throughout the sixties, seventies and early eighties, though never as busy as in her fifties hey-day. She is reputed to have turned down "The Pink Panther" because she wanted to be near her young family.
These days she concentrates on writing, and has a biography 'There Really Was A Hollywood' a book about the making of "Psycho", "Behind the scenes of the classic chiller" and a novel, 'House of destiny' to her credit. Janet is currently working on a further novel.
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