Is Spock's stand-in really the silhouette in Psycho's iconic shower scene?
Frank da Vinci appeared in dozens of Star Trek episodes… but was he ''Mother''?
Frank da Vinci may be far less famous than his namesake Leonardo, but he does have something on the Italian Renaissance genius. Frank was in a ton of Star Trek episodes. Well, 53 of them, to be exact. But that's more appearances than either George Takei or Walter Koenig.
You may be asking, "Who the heck is Frank da Vinci?" Well, the stuntman and stand-in also portrayed several minor characters on the Original Series. He perhaps is most recognizable as Lt. Brent, an officer in both the sciences and command divisions. You can spot Brent in blue or gold throughout all three seasons. Alternately, the uncredited actor also portrayed a Starfleet fellow named, well, Vinci. Da Vinci frequently switched sides, as well, dressing up as a Vulcan, an Ekosian, an Organian and an Eminian.
But da Vinci's major contribution to the Star Trek set was perhaps his role as Leonard Nimoy's stand-in. Crafting television is a long and laborious process, one that the stars are not fully subjected to as lighting is adjusted, the staging framed, etc. Da Vinci stood in for Spock in the filmmaking process.
This was not da Vinci's only gig as a stand-in. Years earlier, he worked as a stand-in on the set of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Due to his physical similarity, he was a stand-in for Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates.
Now, here is where it gets interesting. The invaluable Trek resource Memory Alpha says this of Psycho: "Da Vinci's silhouette can be seen in the famous shower murder scene."
Could that be? It's hard to say. Well, there are some things we do know for certain about the iconic slasher scene in the shower. Most importantly, the shadowy "Mother" figure with the knife was definitely not Anthony Perkins. The Psycho star himself admitted to this. Hitchcock hoped to keep the identity of the killer mysterious, and thus used a different performer to not tip his hand. "Hitchcock was very worried that the dual role and nature of Norman Bates would be exposed if I were to appear in that scene," Perkins explained. Plus, the meticulously crafted scene, while only about 45 seconds long in final form, took seven days to shoot and 78 camera set-ups. No wonder that stand-ins were used.
But was one of them da Vinci? Maybe? We do know for a fact that another face from Sixties sci-fi television dressed up as "Mother" with the knife. Anne Dore, who later played the giant scientist in the premiere episode of Land of the Giants, "The Crash," was one of the actors playing the murderer in the shower scene. Irwin Allen cast her frequently, as she also appeared in Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel.
The Alfred Hitchcock Wiki also credits Margo Epper as a body-double for "Mother" in that scene. (Playboy cover girl Marli Renfro was the body-double for victim Janet Leigh.)
So, with all the shots in the shower scene, it's possible one of them was da Vinci. But at least we do know that another face from classic TV was in the horror classic.