Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Anthony Perkins: sexually conflicted actor

Anthony Perkins was an actor who had affairs with A-list male celebrities: Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, Rudolf Nureyev, Paul Newman, Leonard Bernstein, James Dean, and Stephen Sondheim. The one that lasted, however, was with dancer/choreographer Grover Dale, with whom Perkins had a six-year relationship before his 1973 marriage to photographer Berry Berenson, the sister of actress Marisa Berenson. Dale, who had been Perkins’ understudy in the stage musical Greenwillow, also married in 1973 (must have been something in the water that year). Perkins was 41 years old at the time of his marriage and said he had sex with a woman for the first time just a year before that, at age 39, with his co-star Victoria Principal during filming of The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.

Perkins was a veteran of stage, screen and TV, even earning an Oscar nomination for Friendly Persuasion, but he lived in utter fear that Confidential magazine would out him, as it did with Tab Hunter, one of his early lovers. Perkins had two sons with Berenson, but he died of AIDS in 1992 at age sixty; he did not acknowledge during his lifetime that he had the disease, even though the National Enquirer broke the story two years before his death.

His performance as Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s film Psycho is unforgettable, but his career went into decline soon afterward. Perkins was known to frequent gay porn stores and gay movie houses in Times Square, NYC, where he watched men have sex in the stairwells.

For over a decade Perkins lived in a platonic relationship with photographer Helen Merrell, a dominating force of a woman 14 years his senior. Merrell went on to become an influential theatrical agent and philanthropist.

In the late 1950s, Perkins released three pop song albums, but a career as a singer never materialized, although he did have several successful singing roles in Broadway musicals. Perkins also worked as a stage actor. In 1958, he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance in the Broadway play Look Homeward, Angel. During this time he also starred in Green Mansions (1959) with Audrey Hepburn and the college comedy Tall Story (1960) with Jane Fonda.

His widow, Berry Berenson, was tragically killed while aboard American Airlines flight 11 as it crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

In a role that forever defined him: Perkins (as Norman Bates) with Janet Leigh in Hitchcock's masterpiece PSYCHO:


  1. Please mention his roles in ''Goodbye Again'' 1961 with Ingrid Bergman and Yves Montand and ''Phaedra'' 1961 with Merlina Mercouri. I was 15 with ''Friendly Persuasion'' and grew up with Anthony Perkins' films. We all loved Anthony Perkins - men and women - the old and the young. He was far too pretty to be a movie starr - he should have been on a wall in the National Gallery in London.

  2. exelent acctor, a very hard life!!!

  3. Hitchcock, a highgly reccomended picture. (2013)

  4. yes watching desire under the elms now and he was such a good actor.

  5. His leading role as Inspector Javert in the TV version of Les Miserables was superb. Absolutely Masterful! I watch it on video again and again.I never tire of watching it.

  6. Hey, I'm startled that Paul Newman was bi/gay. Obviously I suspected Troy Donahue et al. Much check that out

    1. When I came to NYC 40 plus years ago, a new kid on the block for the gay scene, I heard many references to Paul as a frequenter of the Baths -- I wasn't into the anonymous encounter -- so I have no first hand knowledge -- but it was considered serious common knowledge. Personally, I did know Larry Kurt of Broadway and Nureyev of ballet and was a bedmate of one of Tony's repeated scores. So many lifetimes ago. Wish that more 'big names' would have acknowledged participation so the stigma would have been blunted sooner.
      For the record -- I'm celebrating my 35th monogamous same-sex lover-husband-whatever in Oct. 2013.

  7. Jack,

    Congratulations on the longevity of your monogamous relationship.

  8. I don't understand why, if a man has sex with men and women, he is automatically considered gay. Maybe he's really bi!

  9. Or maybe he was just afraid of having sex with women up until a year before his marriage...

  10. This is first time I've watched this film. I'm a girl and had my suspicion while watching, but new the truth when he walked upstairs in 'Psyco'! No straight man waggles it, unless you want us to laugh... in a good way ;)