A fiery and independent attitude combined with elegance and refinement.
Tippi Hedren is, without a doubt, one of Hollywood’s all-time greatest actresses.
But tragic revelations about her career in recent years offer a different picture; her success cost far more than most people realised.
Image from Wikipedia Commons / H.P.S.
It’s hard to believe, but the stunning Tippi Hedren turned 93 this past week.
The Hollywood great shot to fame in the 1950s and 1960s because to her performances in such classic films as The Birds and Marnie. Tippi represents the pinnacle of excellence in every way; she was the epitome of elegance, grace, intellect, class, integrity, character, and strength.
She is one of the few remaining actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age, and her life is precious because of the lessons she can teach us.
Her tumultuous connection with the great Alfred Hitchcock has garnered a lot of attention in recent years, but she paid a terrible price for pursuing her aspirations.
The well-known filmmaker first spotted Tippi in an advertisement for Sego, a diet drink, and immediately took a like to her.
My attention was not mainly focused on her physical appearance. The first thing I noticed was how good she looked on film, and I loved what I saw right away. After seeing the picture, Hitchcock said, “She has a touch of that high-style, lady-like quality once well-represented in films by actresses like Irene Dunne, Grace Kelly, Claudette Colbert, and others, but which is now quite rare.”
Tippi’s main source of income in the 1950s and 1960s was as a highly sought-after fashion model. Nathalie Kay (her father called her Tippi) was born on January 19, 1930, in New Ulm, Minnesota.
She was a blonde of Swedish, German, and Norwegian ancestry who used to enjoy modelling in department store fashion displays when she was younger.
Tippi’s career as a model took off as she got older. She graced the covers of several high-profile periodicals, including Life and Glamour. However, she lacked both experience and recognition as an actor.
However, in October 1961, her phone rang, and it was an agency looking to employ for a well-known producer. Tippi continued prodding around, hoping someone would tell her who the producer was. They finally broke the news that Alfred Hitchcock was looking to sign the top model on for seven years.
Getty Images/Donaldson Collection
“I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or run,” Tippi told the Star Tribune in 1962.
Hitchcock had unearthed a new Grace Kelly, or so the rumour went. Tippi found the comparison to Miss Kelly appealing, but she avoided the comparison out of fear of being dwarfed.
Tippi originally planned to be the lead in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, where she would play a smaller part because of her lack of serious acting experience.
The well-known filmmaker, however, had grand ambitions for the blonde from Minnesota.
He started training Tippi right away, and it was tough. The screen tests for the stunning green-eyed woman lasted for days. Tippi, despite her nerves, did a great job of learning her lines and doing her choreography.
Commons on Wikipedia
Hitch loved females who carried themselves with grace and propriety. Robert F. Boyle, the production designer, credited Tippi for creating that element.
Birds, starring Tippi Hedren
Tippi had dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock a few days after the tests were completed. In the midst of the meal, Hitchcock started rummaging in his pockets and eventually presented Tippi with a golden box.
Tippi told Star Tribune, “I had just finished a screen test for Hitch and I thought, ‘What a nice way for him to tell me he liked it,'”
The package included a gold pin set with a pearl.
Hitch said, “Take a good look at it, my sweetheart.”
Tippi said, “It looks like a bird.”
Hitchcock replied, “Yes, my dear,” in his signature deep voice.
“I’ve cast you as the main character in my upcoming play.”
After seeing this, he collapsed
Tippi Hedren made her acting debut in the classic horror film The Birds, which is still remembered fondly by audiences today.
The New York Times hailed the innovative special effects, calling the picture “a horror film that should raise the hackles on the most courageous and put goose-pimples on the toughest hide.”
Tippi shot to fame thanks to her efforts in that groundbreaking picture, and she damn well earned it. Taking pictures of The Birds was just as nerve-racking as watching the movie.
There were actual birds utilised. There was this one incident when two thousand finches descended on my house via the chimney of my fireplace. However, the attic was the location of the worst of the crime. I’m being harassed by seagulls and crows. One bird bit my lip and scraped my eye. Six days were spent filming a scene that barely lasted two minutes. The scene’s tragedy left me feeling hopeless, and I ended up collapsing. Tippi said, “I stayed in bed for days.” This was back in 1962.
Hitchcock approached Tippi about playing the lead in Marnie when they were shooting The Birds. After Grace Kelly dropped out of the film, the door was wide open for a replacement star. The legendary picture was planned to begin production in 1963, but the death of John F. Kennedy prevented that from happening.
Tippi said in the book Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, “I was amazed that he would offer me this incredible role and that he would have that kind of faith in me.”
While reviewers weren’t unanimous in their praise for Marnie at its release, the picture is now widely recognised to be among the all-time greats. Together on film, the golden-haired Tippi Hedren and the legendary Sean Connery were an unbeatable combination. The psychological thriller was also quite innovative for its day.
Marnie, starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery (1964).
Tippi and Hitchcock’s last project together was Marnie, and there were several factors that led to their decision to part ways.
Tippi, her coworkers, and other eyewitnesses all agree that things escalated after she shot The Birds. During production, Alfred Hitchcock served as her on-set drama teacher.
He was overbearing in his demands and too possessive. No one will ever be able to own me. In 1973, the actress commented, “But then, that’s my own hangup.”
Trailer for The Birds (1963) starring Hedren and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Hitchcock was the brilliant and well-known filmmaker at the time, but Hedren was merely a young, unproven actress “who had no clout.” She had to be physically formidable to overcome Mr. Hitchcock, who allegedly attacked her when she refused to sleep with him.
It was difficult for her to speak out because of the norms of the time and place.
More unpleasant information surfaced when Donald Spoto wrote The Dark Side of Genius in 1983. According to Donald Spoto’s account, Hitchcock had two of his crew members shadow Tippi at all times.
The book claims that the director also intended to control Tippi’s diet, social life, and other aspects of her daily routine. The actors and crew were strictly forbidden from interacting with her.
“Hitch was becoming quite dominant and covetous of ‘Tippi,’ and it was very tough for her. During the performance, no one was allowed to go too near to her. Co-star Rod Taylor claimed in the book, “He told me repeatedly, “Don’t touch the lady after I say “Cut!”
The situation deteriorated much more during filming of Marnie.
It was common knowledge that he was completely preoccupied with me. At the end of the day, he always requested a glass of wine or champagne in my company. He was really cutting me off from everyone, Tippi complained.
A promotional image of Hedren and Hitchcock from the 1964 film Marnie.
When it was first published, The Dark Side of Genius caused quite a stir. Friends of Alfred Hitchcock spoke out in his defence, saying they didn’t recognise the guy described in the book.
Tippi, however, has not backed down, and now she blames the director for ending her career. She has been making these claims for decades, and she included them in her memoirs to warn other women.
I felt it was important to convey to women, and particularly young women, that they should always be firm when rejecting romantic overtures of this kind. “No” is perfectly OK, she assured Variety.
Tippi has been eager to provide a fuller image of the great filmmaker she had a long professional relationship with.
My career may have been destroyed, but I am still here. Those days were far gone from my existence. In 2012, she said to Huffington Post, “I still admire the man for who he was.”
“I was able to differentiate between the two. The creative individual in question. What he did for the film business will never be forgotten, and I have no intention of trying to take that away from him. However, there is that other, darker side, which was really terrible.
The riskiest movie ever produced
The film industry was not kind to the effortlessly chic movie beauty after her time with Hitchcock. She had to start again professionally and chose to focus her efforts on animal rights. Her time as a model and the mistreatment she received in Hollywood shaped her into the person she eventually became.
Roar was a movie produced in 1981 by Tippi and her talent agent husband Noel Marshall. The original timeline for the project was nine months, but it ended up taking five years and costing $17 million.
Dozens of African lions, Marshall, Tippi, and Melanie Griffith’s character all appeared in the film. In the credits, there was a call to action to protest fur retailers and consumers.
Tippi Hedren, actress and campaigner, in her Acton, California, kitchen, in 1994. While Tippi was on the phone, a tiger called Zoe climbed through the open window in the kitchen. Hedren and her family live on the 80-acre Shambala Preserve, which is home to rescued lions, tigers, leopards, and other large cats.Photographs by Getty Images.
The film’s director of photography, Jan de Bont, and actors Noel Marshall and Melanie Griffith were all mauled by lions. This is why many call Roar the “most dangerous film ever made.” Tippi claims seven individuals were hurt, while some say 40 were.
I don’t know how we made it through… Tippi told Variety in 2016 that “we were one on one with those big cats.”
They’re large, bad, and scary. I became invested in the cause of preventing the government from legalising the breeding of lions and tigers as pets while I worked on the film. They are not suitable as pets. One of the four most deadly creatures on the planet, they are apex predators at the very top of the food chain.
Tippi has been a vocal supporter of animal rights since the 1980s. She established Shambala Preserve, about forty miles north of Los Angeles, as a wildlife sanctuary in 1983. Since 1976, the now-93-year-old actress has called this place home.
Tippi’s latest film appearance was in 2017’s The Ghost and the Whale, an American mystery thriller drama. The actress said a year later that she would not be taking on any major parts when she entered her 90s.
Hedren recently told The Hollywood Reporter, “At this point in my life, I have done almost everything I wanted to do.”
Caretaking for the large cats I’ve rescued and taken in from the wild has become my full-time job at the preserve. I really doubt that I will ever work in the film or television industry again, which is perhaps why this ad was so appealing to me.
What an inspiring, engaging, and smart lady!
What Tippi had to go through was so unjust and horrible, but she appears to have come out the other side a great, compassionate lady.
Tippi Hedren is a wonderful person with ideals that were maybe too good for Hollywood, but she lived an exceptional life. Forward this to your friends if you agree!