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Later Years: Janet Leigh Biography

Janet Leigh The Fog 1980 Hal Holbrook
Janet Leigh The Fog 1980, with Hal Holbrook

Janet Leigh biography final part: fourth marriage and semi-retirement. (See previous post: Janet Leigh TOUCH OF EVIL / Orson Welles Remembered.) Following her marriage to stockbroker Robert Brandt in Sept. 1962 — the day after her divorce from Tony Curtis was finalized — Janet Leigh’s movies became both less frequent and less prestigious. She did, however, continue working in sporadic features, such as Jack Smight’s humorous thriller Harper (1966), with Paul Newman as her gumshoe husband; the dreadful Jerry Lewis comedy Three on a Couch (1966); and Robert Gist’s drama An American Dream (1966), with Stuart Whitman and Eleanor Parker.

Also: William F. Claxton’s grade-Z horror flick Night of the Lepus (1972), once again opposite Stuart Whitman, in addition to fellow veteran Rory Calhoun and a bunch of human-eating giant rabbits; Stephen Verona’s family drama Boardwalk (1979), with veterans Ruth Gordon and Lee Strasberg; and, what turned out to be Leigh’s last film role in nearly two decades, John Carpenter’s cult horror classic The Fog (1980), with daughter Jamie Lee Curtis and a bunch of living-dead creatures.

Leigh also kept herself busy on television. Among her small-screen roles were those in the made-for-TV movies House on Greenapple Road (1970), Deadly Dream (1971), and Murder at the World Series (1977), and in series such as The Red Skelton Show, Columbo, and Fantasy Island, plus the inevitable guest spot on The Love Boat.

Janet Leigh last movie: Halloween H20

After 1990, Janet Leigh’s film and TV work dwindled to a handful of supporting roles. She was a guest star in the TV series Touched by an Angel and Family Law, in the latter cast in an episode featuring fellow veterans Andy Griffith and Janis Paige. In the TV movie In My Sister’s Shadow (1997), she was the manipulative mother of troubled sisters Nancy McKeon and Alexandra Wilson. Leigh could also be spotted in Steve Miner’s horror thriller Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), featuring Jamie Lee Curtis. Unfortunately, the widely panned Halloween H20 turned out to be Leigh’s last feature to be released in theaters.

As per the IMDb, Janet Leigh’s last movie role was a small supporting part in John T. Kretchmer’s little-seen horror comedy Bad Girls from Valley High (aka A Fate Totally Worse than Death), a direct-to-DVD effort shot in 2000 but that would be released only in early 2005, about six months after Leigh’s death.

Janet Leigh death, autobiography, thoughts on Psycho

Having been suffering from an inflammation of the blood vessels known as vasculitis, Janet Leigh died of cardiac arrest in her sleep at her Beverly Hills home on Oct. 3, 2004.

Leigh’s autobiography, There Really Was a Hollywood, was published in 1984. She also co-wrote (with Christopher Nickens) Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller, published in 1995, and a couple of Hollywood novels: House of Destiny and The Dream Factory, the latter set during the apex of the studio era.

As for her Psycho shower scene, Janet Leigh declared that it "scared the hell" out of her when she first saw the finished sequence.

"Making it and seeing it are two different things. That staccato music and the knife flashing. You’d swear it’s going into the body."

Note: This four-part Janet Leigh biography / article is an expanded version of an obit published in Oct. 2004.

Hal Holbrook / Janet Leigh The Fog 1980 picture: Avco Embassy.

Continue Reading: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Trailer IMAX: Let the Games Begin!

Previous Post: Janet Leigh TOUCH OF EVIL / Orson Welles Remembered


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