Tippi Hedren vs. Alfred Hitchcock

Tippi Hedren The BirdsToby Jones/Sienna Miller = Alfred Hitchcock/Tippi Hedren? [Photo: Tippi Hedren / The Birds publicity shot.]

Tippi Hedren once told The Times of London that Alfred Hitchcock – for whom she starred in The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964), and with whom she had an exclusive contract – “kept me under contract, kept paying me every week for almost two years to do nothing” after she refused his sexual advances.

“I admired Hitch tremendously for his great talent and still do,” Hedren told London's Daily Mail. “Yet, at the same time, I loathed him for his off-set behavior and the way he came on to me sexually. He was a great director - and he destroyed it all by his behavior when he got me alone.”

Hedren had no luck after she rid herself of her Hitchcock ties. She had a small supporting role in Charles Chaplin's box office and critical flop A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren, and then had leads in a handful of long-forgotten movies, such as R.G. Springsteen's thriller Tiger by the Tail (1969), with Christopher George and Dean Jagger, and former Fox actor George Montgomery's actioner Satan's Harvest (1970), co-starring Montgomery himself.

Following sporadic film appearances in the '70s and '80s, Hedren began working more frequently – in supporting roles – from 1990 onwards. Among her film credits in the last two decades or so are John Schlesinger's Pacific Heights (1990), starring daughter Melanie Griffith, Matthew Modine, and Michael Keaton; Alexander Payne's Citizen Ruth (1996), with Laura Dern; and David O. Russell's all-star comedy I Heart Huckabees (2004), with Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, and Naomi Watts.

Alfred Hitchcock directed only four more features after the poorly received Marnie: Torn Curtain (1966), another critical disappointment but a box office success starring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews; Topaz (1969), with Frederick Stafford and Dany Robin; Frenzy (1972), with Jon Finch and Alec McCowen; and Family Plot (1976), with William Devane, Karen Black, Barbara Harris, and Bruce Dern. Hitchcock died at age 81 in 1980.

Tippi Hedren was one of many “Hitchcock Blondes”: Previous blondes included Joan Barry (East of Shanghai), Madeleine Carroll (The 39 Steps, Secret Agent), Grace Kelly (Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief), Ann Todd (The Paradine Case), Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest), Kim Novak (Vertigo), and Vera Miles (The Wrong Man, Psycho).

Ingrid Bergman starred in three Hitchcock films (Spellbound, Notorious, Under Capricorn) and Joan Fontaine in two (Rebecca, Suspicion), but it'd be a stretch to label them “Hitchcock Blondes.” They were David O. Selznick contract players and so was Hitchcock – and that helps to explain their casting in his films.

I should add that I haven't read anything about any of those women complaining that Hitchcock made sexual advances toward them.

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1 Comment to Tippi Hedren vs. Alfred Hitchcock

  1. Rob D

    She was a beautful woman, but a limited actress.