’Psycho’ actress dies aged 77

A family spokeswoman said Ms Leigh died peacefully in her Beverley Hills home surrounded by husband, Robert Brandt, and her actress daughters, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kelly Curtis.

Ms Leigh had been battling vasculitis – an inflammation of the blood vessels – for over a year.

The actress had a fairytale introduction to Hollywood when retired screen star Norma Shearer saw her photograph at a ski resort and recommended her for an MGM studio contract.

Dubbed Janet Leigh (her birth name was Jeanette Helen Morrison) she starred aged 19 in her first movie -The Romance of Rosy Ridge.

Over her lifetime she appeared in more than 50 movies opposite such stars as Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, James Stewart and ex-husband Tony Curtis.

Classics included The Manchurian Candidate in 1962 and Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil in 1958.

But lasting film fame came with Hitchcock’s 1960 film, Psycho, in a role which earned her an Academy Award nomination for supporting actress.

Ms Leigh plays office worker and embezzler Marion Crane who stops for the night at the Bates Motel where in minutes she is slashed to death in a shower by a man dressed up as his mother – Anthony Perkins playing motel keeper Norman Bates.

After watching it Leigh herself was terrified and for years maintained that she was too afraid to take a shower.

Ms Leigh had been twice married before coming to Hollywood : to John K. Carlyle, 1942 and Stanley Reames in 1946, whom she divorced two years later.

In 1951, she married Tony Curtis when their stardoms were at a peak and they appeared in four films together, including Houdini and The Vikings.

They divorced in 1963 and a year later she married businessman Robert Brandt.

In recent years, Ms Leigh was very choosy about acting projects and declined regular offers to trade on her Psycho fame with other horror roles.

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