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The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower…

The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower

by Robert Graysmith

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In 1988, Marli Renfro - Janet Leigh's body double in 'Psycho' - was raped and murdered by a serial killer with a fetish for the classic Hitchcock shocker. But as Robert Graysmith investigated Marli's story, a nagging doubt entered his mind. What if Marli was still alive?
If you ever saw 'Psycho' you will remember the shower scene. If you never saw it, you likely have heard of it. Robert Graysmith refers to it as 'the most harrowing forty-five seconds of footage in cinema history'. He may be right, and the movie was a defining moment in Janet Leigh's and Tony Perkins' careers. Except it wasn't Janet Leigh in the shower, it was Marli Renfro, a nude body double. When Graysmith started to do research to write a book about her, the information he found on her was that she was dead, murdered by a serial killer, like the character she played in Psycho.

This book is much more that the little blurb above, taken from Goodreads. It covers the filming of the shower scene exhaustively, the camera angles, the retakes, the amount of film and time. It also covers Marli's incredible year after Psycho, she was a Playboy Bunny, she starred in some "Nudie Cuties", one directed by Francis Ford Coppola (not that he ever admitted it), cavorted with movie stars and nudists, posed for numerous men's magazines. It also tells us about Henry Adolph Busch Jr aka "Sonny", a serial killer in L.A. around the time of the filming of Psycho, and another killer "The Bouncing Ball Strangler". Sonny was arrested and confessed to killing three women, police suspected he might also be the other killer but he denied this and police were never able to link him to the killings. He was executed. After Marli's incredible year she dropped out of site, but was she dead?

This book was a fascinating read from start to finish, with many interviews of people connected to the film and film industry. Filled with wonderful facts and quotes. I quite enjoyed it and recommend it. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Jun 1, 2016 |
A big disappointment. The only real mystery is why the author is trying so desperately hard to create a mystery where none exists. He basically tries to splice together two stories that are only vaguely related to create a larger story full of mystery and intrigue... and the result is less than satisfying.

Another thing that didn't really work for me was the way the author inserted himself in the story. Some authors can really make this kind of thing work to expound on the basic story and make it come alive but, unfortunately, at least in this instance, Robert Graysmith is not one of them.

Film fans might consider it worth a read for some interesting bits of history like some of the backstory regarding various aspects of the filming of the infamous Psycho shower scene and the lifestyle of models working during the time period. If you're looking for a true crime or great mystery story then you'll likely be disappointed.

If you go in with limited expectations then you may find it worthwhile. ( )
  Mike-L | Apr 8, 2013 |
This book was very creepy and not for the squeemish but I thought as a true crime paperback as well as a Hollywood biography it was very well researched and written. Marli Renfro was a model in the Hollywood area that fell rather by chance into the role of body double for Janet Leigh in Alfred Hitchcock's now famous film Psycho.
(In the famous shower scene, whenever a body part is shown without Jant Leigh's face, it's Marli) This book documents her rather extensive modeling career (including working for Playboy both as a model and a club employee)as well as some incidents from her active social life (horse back riding on the beach with Steve McQueen being a fun highlight)and places that lovely biographical information in the context of an open ended serial killer case stumping LAPD at the time Psycho was relased. I hate to give away the ending her but it's rather essential to why I enjoyed the book so much, it seems that Marli as a person is a bit of a free spirit without a lot of vanity and didn't really follow closely any kind of Hollywood press. Because of this she missed her own obituary appearing in many papers and profiled on television so when she called Playboy in 2001 inquiring about a party she was surprised to be informed that she had died. As Mr. Graysmith so wonderfully writes,
"Marli was to buzy living to know she was "dead"."
It is very sad that another performer from the film Psycho (with a similar name to Marli's) had been a victim of a horrible murder and whose real identity and tragic end had been lost in the sensationalism of the girl in the shower scene, but how wonderful to find at the end of the book that the lovely subject was actually quite alive.
One of my favorite twists in the story was that the author discovered this startling fact by bidding on a magazine that Marli appeared in on ebay and after being connected to her by the seller, found she had been bidding on the same item trying to rebuild her career collection. (Apparently her first husband was disturbed with his wife having appeared in men's magazines and her original collection had been destroyed in a fire.)
Full of true crime and 60's Hollywood glamour this story would have made a perfect pulp fiction paperback, but the truth is way stranger than fiction as this book can attest. Horrifying at times but a great read none the less. ( )
  Groovybaby | Apr 10, 2011 |
I would probably give this 3 stars if at times I didn't get completely lost in inexplicable details of serial killers. Certain questions such as was Sonny Busch the bouncing ball strangler are left wide open, perhaps because that is how they remained in real life, but it would've been nice to know if the killings stopped after Busch's arrest. Also, the story is more of a biography on Marli Renfro than a "murder that became a real-life mystery". Graysmith did a tremendous amount of research for this book which is apparent. ( )
  phoenixcomet | Jan 19, 2011 |
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The "New York Times"-bestselling author uncovers a real-life mystery of murder, body doubles, and obsession, as he explores the case of Marli Renfro, Janet Leigh's body double in the infamous shower scene in "Pyscho," who reportedly became the victim of a serial killer.… (more)

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