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Anthony Perkins Died from Disease He Kept Secret for 2 Years — It Was Revealed Only after His Passing

Busayo Ogunjimi
Sep 08, 2021
02:20 A.M.
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Anthony Perkins enjoyed a successful Hollywood career for years, warming his way into people’s hearts. Despite constantly being in the spotlight, an important detail about his life managed to slip past the glaring eyes of the public.

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Actor Anthony Perkins stormed the movie world in the fifties with his portrayal of peculiar characters like Norman Bates on “Psycho.”

His usually reserved movie characters quickly made him become widely known as a man of few words. Before his passing, the legend lived up to that reputation, going to the grave with the best-kept secret ever.

Pictures of actor Anthony Perkins | Photo: Getty Images

Pictures of actor Anthony Perkins | Photo: Getty Images

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News of Perkin’s death in September 1992 shocked the world at the time, as the actor seemed at the peak of his career. However, the feelings of shock intensified after his cause of death was revealed as AIDS.

Following his demise, a spokesperson for the Perkins family confirmed in a statement that the iconic actor died due to complications from the disease.

He died in his Hollywood home, surrounded by his wife, Berry Berenson Perkins, their sons Osgood and Elvis, and several close friends and relatives.

Actor Anthony Perkins leaves Spago restaurant in 1991 in Los Angeles | Photo: Shutterstock

Actor Anthony Perkins leaves Spago restaurant in 1991 in Los Angeles | Photo: Shutterstock

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Before his death, the legend developed complications that kept him bedridden during his last days. His dilapidating condition prompted friends and close relatives to turn up in a show of support, eventually bidding their final farewells.

While the actor never spoke about his ailment, he left a passing statement, which was made public after his demise. In the statement, the star revealed he decided to keep his diagnosis a secret because he was “not much at being noble.”

He further clarified that contrary to the widespread opinion that the disease was a punishment from God, he believed it was a means to teach people love, selflessness, and understanding.

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Actors Silvana Mangano and Anthony Perkins on the movie set of 'This Angry Age' at Cinecittà Studios in 1957 in Rome | Photo: Getty Images

Actors Silvana Mangano and Anthony Perkins on the movie set of 'This Angry Age' at Cinecittà Studios in 1957 in Rome | Photo: Getty Images

Perkins' wife Berry granted an interview shortly after, where she clarified some of the tension built around her husband’s passing. Addressing why the family kept mum about the ailment, she shared:

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“He simply never wanted anyone to know. He figured if anyone knew, they’d never give him work again.”

Perkin’s determination to avoid the problems that came with facing the dreaded disease in Hollywood forced the icon to take some drastic measures.

Anthony Perkins and his wife Berry Berenson attend "The Phantom of the Opera" Opening Night Performance on May 31, 1989 at Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles Music Center in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Anthony Perkins and his wife Berry Berenson attend "The Phantom of the Opera" Opening Night Performance on May 31, 1989 at Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles Music Center in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

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Berry admitted her husband did his best to keep his illness a secret, even checking into the hospital at least twice, under a fake name.

Perkin’s lived with HIV, the virus responsible for his illness, for two years, having been diagnosed in 1990. After his passing, His wife and sons tested negative for the virus, proving he adopted precautionary measures.

Notwithstanding, many still considered his actions risky, especially when his ailment was deemed punishment for an “ungodly” affair.

Anthony Perkins on the PSYCHO movie set at Universal Studios on June 24, 1985 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Anthony Perkins on the PSYCHO movie set at Universal Studios on June 24, 1985 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

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He once admitted to having a same-sex encounter, describing it as “unsatisfying.” The experience admittedly made him undergo a round of psychotherapy years before finally settling down with his wife.

However, rumors of Perkin’s homosexuality became widespread, with many speculating he had secret same-sex affairs despite his marriage. The most viral of these rumors was his alleged affair with openly gay actor Tab Hunter.

 Tab Hunter wearing a ski sweater in a promotional portrait for "The Tab Hunter Show" in 1960 | Photo: Getty Images

Tab Hunter wearing a ski sweater in a promotional portrait for "The Tab Hunter Show" in 1960 | Photo: Getty Images

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In his 2005 memoir, "Tab Hunter: The Making Of A Movie Star," Hunter admitted to the affair, saying he fell for Perkin's intelligence and attractiveness. They tried hiding the relationship for years, going on double dates with other starlets to avoid suspicions.

While it lasted, they sustained something beautiful. According to Hunter, who died in 2018, their romance soon ended because of Perkins' overambition which proved difficult to keep up with.

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