To audiences, they were the most terrifying 45 seconds in movie history. To star Janet Leigh, they were seven soggy days in a bodysuit, standing in a shower and being shot from dozens of angles by director Alfred Hitchcock. But when she finally saw the notorious shower scene in the 1960 classic Psycho, she reacted like everyone else: "I absolutely screamed my head off," she said. "It was the defining moment of her career," says her friend, producer George Schlatter, and it earned her an Oscar nomination.
It's not just because of the Bates Motel that Leigh, who died Oct. 3 at 77 after a long bout with an inflammatory illness, earned a spot in Hollywood. Her pert sexiness—she was like a blond sparrow that chirped "come hither"—livened up Orson Welles's Touch of 'Evil ('58) and The Manchurian Candidate ('62). Her 11-year marriage to Tony Curtis, 79, produced a second-generation star, Jamie Lee Curtis. The actress, 45, was by Leigh's bedside last week with sister Kelly, 48, also an actress, and Leigh's fourth husband, producer Robert Brandt, 77. This past summer, when Leigh's health was failing, Jamie Lee publicly saluted her for teaching her how to survive as an actress—and as a person. "No prima donna attitude allowed," said Jamie Lee. "A great gift."
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