Combustible Celluloid

Janet Leigh


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Forever known as the "girl in the shower," Janet Leigh brought a new sensuality to the big screen, teasing John Wayne with a sexy strip in Jet Pilot, or lounging in her bra in Psycho. Voluptuous and sleepy-voiced, she was a saucer-eyed girl next door, available to disappear in many films but to stand out in the few roles that understood her warmth. She was perfect for The Manchurian Candidate as "the girl," and the anchor for Frank Sinatra's sanity, and as Charlton Heston's tormented wife in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, drawing attention to herself in Mexico with her milky American-ness.

She was born not far from my hometown, in Merced, California, as Jeanette Morrison in 1927. Married to Tony Curtis, she gave birth to the equally talented Jamie Lee Curtis with whom she starred in John Carpenter's The Fog. She died Sunday, October 3, 2004 at age 77. She will be missed.

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