Janet Leigh was an American actress. Discovered by the actress Norma Shearer, Leigh secured a contract with MGM and began her film career in the late 1940s. She appeared in several popular films over the following decade, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. From the end of the 1950s, she played more dramatic roles in such films as Safari Touch of Evil and The Manchurian Candidate, but she achieved her most lasting recognition for her performance as the doomed Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. For this role she was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Her acting career declined from the mid 1960s. However, she continued to appear occasionally in films and television, including two performances with her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in The Fog and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. The only child of Helen Lita and Frederick Robert Morrison, Leigh was born as Jeanette Helen Morrison in Merced, California, and grew up in Stockton, California. In the winter of 1945, she was discovered by the actress Norma Shearer, whose late husband Irving Thalberg had been a senior executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Shearer showed talent agent Lew Wasserman a photograph she had seen of Leigh while vacationing at Sugar Bowl, the ski resort where the girl’s parents worked. Shearer later recalled that “that smile made it the most fascinating face I had seen in years. I felt I had to show that face to somebody at the studio.” Leigh left the University of the Pacific, where she was studying music and psychology, after Wasserman secured a contract with MGM, despite having no acting experience. She was placed under the tutelage of drama coach Lillian Burns.