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Psycho Leigh dies in peace

Los Angeles, Oct. 4 (Reuters): Actress Janet Leigh, whose dozens of starring roles were eclipsed by a single movie moment ' the motel shower stabbing scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, has died at the age of 77, a family spokeswoman said today.

Leigh 'died peacefully in her home yesterday afternoon' in Beverly Hills with her husband, Robert Brandt, and her actress daughters, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kelly Curtis, at her side, the spokeswoman said.

Leigh had been battling vasculitis ' an inflammation of the blood vessels ' for a year, she said. Leigh's film career started in 1947 after actress Norma Shearer discovered her photograph on a hotel reception desk and recommended her for an MGM studio contract.

She appeared opposite such stars as Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, James Stewart and ex-husband Tony Curtis in dozens of movies including at least two classics, The Manchurian Candidate in 1962 and Orson Welles' Touch of Evil in 1958.

But lasting film fame came not from the love interest or damsel in distress roles that the blonde actress specialised in in more than 50 movies but from a film in which she played a thief on the run.

The camera only cares about Leigh for the first 45 minutes of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho as she plays office worker and embezzler Marion Crane who stops for the night at the Bates Motel where in minutes she is slashed to death in a shower by a man dressed up as his mother ' Anthony Perkins playing motel keeper Norman Bates.

Leigh spent a week filming the shower scene which is built of 70 takes lasting only seconds each in which the killer's knife is not shown cutting her. The scene, which lasts only minutes, was voted the most famous movie death scene by readers of the British magazine Total Films, outranking such tragedies as the death of Bambi's mother and King Kong's fall from the Empire State Building..

Leigh was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for the role and for years maintained that the trauma of seeing it made it impossible for her to take a shower without fear. Total Film's editor Simon Crook, told the BBC that it was 'the sheer violence of the edit rather than any explicit gore' that made the shower scene so distressing.

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