Marion (played by Janet Leigh) is a young, single woman who lives with her sister Lila in Phoenix and works as a secretary in a real-estate office. She has a long-distance boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), whom she desperately wants to marry.
Sam (played by John Gavin) is a handsome divorcé who runs a hardware store in Fairvale, California. He loves Marion Crane and sees her whenever he is in Phoenix on business. Unfortunately, due to Sam's father's debts and his alimony payments to his ex-wife, he does not yet have the means to marry Marion.
Lowery (played by Vaughan Taylor) is a real-estate agent and the boss of Marion and Caroline. He is very straight-laced and cautious, even though he does keep a bottle of brandy hidden in his desk.
Marion's co-worker, Caroline (played by Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia) is a young married woman. She has an overbearing mother and keeps a secret stash of tranquilizers in her purse.
Wealthy oil man Cassidy (played by Frank Albertson) has a larger-than-life personality, in stark comparison to Lowery. He is sleazy and loud, flirting with Marion in the office and openly admitting to not paying his taxes. He comes to Lowery's office because he is buying a house as a wedding gift for his daughter (in all cash, no less).
Highway Patrol Cop
Marion falls asleep in her car on the side of the highway, and the next morning, a cop (played by Mort Mills) wakes her up and asks her a number of questions. She behaves very suspiciously, leading the cop to follow her as she exchanges her car for a different one and makes her way up to Fairvale.
The used car salesman (played by John Anderson) is surprised that Marion is in such a hurry to exchange her old car with Arizona plates for one with California plates. He urges her to take the new car for a spin, but she is eager to finalize the deal and leave. California Charlie is suspicious of Marion's behavior, but he lets her go on her way without questioning her further.
Norman (played by Anthony Perkins) might be one of cinema's greatest villains, but when Marion first encounters him, he is nothing but sweet and gracious. As most movie lovers know, though, Norman has a dark side that he cannot control.
He grew up with a single mother after his father died, and, by his account, had a very happy childhood. Then, his mother met another man who convinced her to buy what became the Bates Motel. After the main highway moved, however, the motel remained mostly empty, thus proving to be a bad investment. Then, in a jealous rage, Norman killed his mother and her lover; he told police it was a murder-suicide. Even though he got away with his crime, Norman was plagued with guilt, so he stole his mother's corpse and preserved it. He kept it in the house and behaved as if Mrs. Bates was still alive. He eventually started to dress up in her clothes and speak like her, as well. He assumed that because he was so jealous of his mother and her lover, that she would feel the same way about him. Therefore, whenever Norman felt attracted to another woman, his "mother" would kill her.
Even though Marion is not the first woman that Norman's "mother" has killed, it is her death that starts the chain of events leading to Norman's capture.
Little is known about Marion's sister, Lila (played by Vera Miles), other than the fact that she is single, works at a music shop, and lives with Marion in Phoenix. Hitchcock openly admitted that Lila, Arbogast, and Sam are mostly functional characters that exist mostly to uncover Norman Bates's secrets after Marion's death.
Det. Milton Arbogast
Arbogast (played by Martin Balsam) is a private detective that Lowery has hired to find Marion in the hopes of getting Cassidy's money back and settling the matter privately. Arbogast is a good detective with strong instincts, though he does come off rather brash at times. Unfortunately, he dies at the hands of "Mrs. Bates" while investigating the Bates Motel.
Sheriff Al Chambers
Chambers (played by John McIntire) is the Deputy Sheriff in Fairvale and a straightforward, honest man. When Sam and Lila come to him after Arbogast's disappearance, he immediately encourages them to involve the police in the matter. Chambers and his wife (played by Lurene Tuttle) are friendly, decent small-town folk who balk at making late-night phone calls, know everyone in town, and attend church every Sunday.
Dr. Fred Richmond
Dr. Richmond (played by Simon Oakland) only appears in the final moments of Psycho for the purpose of explaining Norman's psychological condition to the police. He is smug and confident.
The voice of Mrs. Bates in Psycho is pieced together from three different voice-over actors. The actual Mrs. Bates died at the hands of her son, Norman, 10 years before the film takes place. However, Norman has convinced herself that his mother is still alive; he stole her corpse, preserved it, and even dresses up as her on occasion. At the end of the film, Norman has "become Mrs. Bates" entirely.
Psycho Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Psycho is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.