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University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

Pacific remembers alumna Janet Leigh

Janet LeighPacific alumna Janet Leigh '47 was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1950s. During her time at Pacific, she studied music and psychology at the College of the Pacific. She was "discovered" when retired screen star Norma Shearer saw her photograph at a ski resort. Shearer recommended Leigh to talent agent Lew Wasserman, who negotiated a contract at MGM for the teenage Leigh for $50 a week. Her acting debut was the starring role in The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947) and over the course of her acting career, she appeared in over 50 films. Leigh was cast in ingenue roles in a number of films in the late 1940s and early 1950s and worked with many leading stars of the time.  

The film she is most well known for is her role as Marion Crane in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. For this film, she won a Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1951, she married actor Tony Curtis and had two daughters, Kelly Lee and Jamie Lee (who attended Pacific in the 1980s). Leigh and Curtis appeared in five films together, most notably Houdini (1953). In 1962, she divorced Curtis and married director Robert Brandt.

Leigh always had a special place in her heart for Stockton and University of the Pacific and she often returned to her hometown to visit old friends. The City of Stockton dedicated a downtown plaza in her honor in 2006. The university recognized Leigh for her professional accomplishments with an honorary degree at the 2004 Commencement exercises. Ms. Leigh also gifted much of her movie memorabilia to the university. Many of these items are beautifully displayed in the campus movie theatre, which was renamed the Janet Leigh Theatre in her honor. The theatre shows both current Hollywood releases as well as independent and foreign films. Films are screened Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All showtimes are at 8:00 pm during the regular school year. The Theatre is also host to special screenings, director's talks and other events and lectures.

You can learn more about the Janet Leigh Theatre and check out upcoming events here. 

Below is a sneak peek of some of the Janet Leigh collection on display at Pacific.

Oscar's Dress