The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If left untreated, the virus can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Back in the day, the disease was often associated with homosexuals, and people who have been diagnosed with the disease were often discriminated against. But did you know how Anthony Perkins, the original Norman Bates of Psycho, found out he was sick?
Anthony Perkins found out he had HIV when he read a story in the tabloid about it while in the grocery. He underwent blood tests for facial palsy, and the nurse allegedly tested him for HIV without his consent.
Who was Anthony Perkins?
On April 4, 1932, Anthony Perkins was born in New York to actor Osgood Perkins and Janet Rane. The young Perkins was often frustrated because his father was always away for work and was extremely jealous that he wished Osgood Perkins dead when he got home. In 1937, Perkins’ father suddenly died due to a heart attack. The five-year-old Perkins assumed that his wish was responsible for his father’s death, carrying the guilt into his adulthood.
Ten years after his father’s death, Perkins decided to follow in his footsteps by joining the Actors Equity and began performing in stage productions. In 1953, the young actor debuted in The Actress film with Spencer Tracy and Jean Simmons.
Perkins’ performance as the lead role in the Broadway hit Tea and Sympathy gained widespread critical acclaim. In two years, his performance in the film Friendly Persuasion helped him gain a Golden Globe Award for New Actor of the Year and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In 1957, Perkins earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play with his performance in Look Homeward, Angel. He was also successful in the movie and music industries, with his performance in the 1957 film Fear Strikes Out and his pop single Moon-Light Swim reaching number 24 in the US pop charts.
Perkins’ career was further propelled when he portrayed Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror movie Psycho in 1960. The film’s success brought about sequel films 20 years after, and Perkins appeared on all three.
The successful actor then moved to Europe to work on European films and avoid being typecast after the success of Psycho. By the seventies, the actor returned to the US and continued his career in show business, appearing in movies like Catch-22, WUSA, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and Murder on the Orient Express.
Perkins continued working in the entertainment industry in the eighties and early nineties until his death due to AIDS-related pneumonia on September 12, 1992. (Source: Live About)
How Did Anthony Perkins Find Out He Had HIV?
According to biographers, Perkins was a timid person, especially towards women. In one particular posthumous biography written by Charles Winecoff, Split Image talked about Perkins’ homosexuality. Winecoff claims that the great actor only had same-sex relationships until his late thirties.
Perkins was linked to actors like Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, and Nick Adams. But the great actor underwent psychotherapy to cure his homosexuality when he was 39. He then chose to have heterosexual relationships until he married his wife Berinthia Berenson in 1973. The couple had two sons, Elvis and Oz Perkins. (Source: Gay Culture Land)
In 1990, while Perkins was working on Psycho IV, a series of blood tests was administered for facial palsy. It was later found out that the nurse who took his blood sample also tested it for HIV without the consent of Perkins. Later on, an article in the tabloid The Enquirer published that Perkins had HIV. When Perkins read the article, he had himself tested, and true enough, he had HIV.
The couple was devastated by the news but kept it to themselves. Perkins didn’t want to tell anyone about it for fear of being stereotyped. Luckily, only the actor had HIV. Berenson and her children tested multiple times, but all results were negative. (Source: NY Times)