- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

LOS ANGELES - Actress Janet Leigh, 77, who attained screen immortality as the murder victim in the bloody shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho,” has died after a long illness.

Miss Leigh died at her Beverly Hills home Sunday of vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, an ailment she battled for the past year, reports said.

She reached the peak of screen stardom in the 1950s and 1960s. Her role in “Psycho” in 1960 became the best known in a varied career that spanned 63 films.

Miss Leigh starred in her first movie, “The Romance of Rosy Ridge,” in 1947. She remained one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses for more than a decade, averaging nearly four films a year.

Among her personal favorites was the 1949 classic “That Forsythe Woman,” set in the Victorian era, and “Little Women,” filmed in the same year, in which she played Meg March.

“They were such beautiful pictures,” Miss Leigh said in a newspaper interview this year.

“They were just pretty to look at and wonderful escapism. Somehow the studios weren’t afraid to make beautiful pictures then.”

She played Princess Aleta in “Prince Valiant” in 1954 opposite Robert Wagner in the title role and got to appear on-screen six times with movie idol Tony Curtis, to whom she was married for more than a decade.

Over the course of her career, she was paired with some of Hollywood’s hunkiest actors, including Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart.

Miss Leigh remains best known for “Psycho,” which is widely viewed as one of the most terrifying films in cinema, even though her part ends about 45 minutes into the film in the bloody shower scene. It earned her her only Oscar nomination.

She recently expressed admiration for the craftsmanship of the grisly screen classic.

“I thought it was cleverly done,” Miss Leigh said in a recent interview.

“We weren’t allowed to show nudity or a knife entering a body, but most people believe they saw it. They did in their imaginations. Having restrictions like that was good because it forced filmmakers to be more creative,” she said.

Her marriage to Mr. Curtis, which ended in divorce, produced two daughters, actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Kelly Curtis, who were at their mother’s side when she died, according to reports.

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