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The Actress in Psycho and The Shower Girl Murder Mystery

A tale of the infamous Psycho shower scene, a "body double," and a case of mistaken identity connected to the women who helped film the 1960 Psycho shower scene.

The shower scene in Psycho terrified its 1960s audience. The infamous scene is one of the most well-known in the history of film. But who was the woman in the shower? During the filming of Psycho, actress Janet Leigh used a body double, model and aspiring actress, Marli Renfro.

 Janet Leigh’s Body Double in Psycho

 Marli Renfro, whose real name was Marlys, was a blue-eyed redhead who often appeared in men’s magazines, including the front cover of Playboy, and was one of the first of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy bunnies. Comfortable with working nude, she was hired as a body double for the famous actress for the shower scene.

 In 2001, a 1988 rape and strangulation case was solved. When a 34 year old handyman named Kenneth Hunt Dean was convicted of strangling two women, it was erroneously reported that one of the victims was Marli Renfro. It turned out Dean had actually killed Myra Davis, another woman associated with the shower scene in the film.

 The Stand-In for the Psycho Shower Scene

Myra Davis was also involved in the making of the Psycho shower scene. Both women actually worked on the set. Davis was the stand-in and Renfro the body double for Janet Leigh. A stand-in runs through certain scenes so the lighting can be checked, but doesn’t appear in the actual movie.

 Myra was associated with the shower scene as she did the clothed “rehearsal’. Marli Renfro, as Leigh’s body double, actually appeared in the shower scenes in the film.

 A Case of Mistaken Identity

 How did this mix-up occur? Because both women had been involved in the making of the shower scene, an AP news report erroneously stated that Renfro, not Davis, had been murdered. To add to the confusion, another news report stated that Myra Davis was Marli Renfro’s true name, but it turns out they were two separate women, both who were on the set of the film Psycho.

 In recent his novel, Robert Graysmith, who also wrote Zodiac, explains how it all came about. He follows Marli Renfro’s life and also chronicles events that led to the murder of the woman that was assumed to have been Marli Renfro.

 It is believed that the killer may also have made a mistake and had intended to murder Janet Leigh’s body double, not the stand-in. As for Marli Renfro, she dropped out of the public eye in the 60’s to lead a more private life. It turns out she is alive and well and living under her married name in the Mojave desert. She had no idea she was presumed to be dead.


 Graysmith, Robert. The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower. New York, NY. Berkley:2010. 

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