Former Hollywood actress Tippi Hedren reveals a dark secret

This iconic beauty just turned 93 – and she has aged amazingly. Check the comments to see latest photo of her.


The life story of actress Tippi Hedren is fascinating, to say the least. This blonde bombshell found her way to Hollywood after Alfred Hitchcock spotted her in a commercial. The famed director was so fascinated with her on-screen appearance that he was quick to contact her and offer her a seven-year contract. She became his muse and a leading lady in two of his most prominent movies, The Birds and Marnie. But things between them took the wrong turn, and eventually, that led her career to experience a huge setback.

When Hedren received the call that changed her life forever, she didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or run.

Wikipedia Commons / Hollywood Press Syndicate

“I was not primarily concerned with how she looked in person. Most important was her appearance on the screen, and I liked that immediately. She has a touch of that high-style, lady-like quality which was once well-represented in films by actresses like Irene Dunne, Grace Kelly, Claudette Colbert, and others, but which is now quite rare,” Hitchcock later said.

And yes, Hedren’s appearance was indeed compared to that of gracious Grace Kelly, and Hedren was flattered.

It was very obvious that Hitchcock had great plans with the Minnesota born green-eyed beauty with Swedish, German, and Norwegian roots.


Once she signed the contract, Hedren did several screen tests that went on for days. “Hitch always liked women who behaved like well-bred ladies. Tippi generated that quality,” production designer Robert F. Boyle said.

Following the testing, Hedren had dinner with Hitchcock and his wife and that’s when he reached to his pocket and took out a golden box wrapped in gift paper.

“I had just finished a screen test for Hitch and I thought, ‘What a nice way for him to tell me he liked it,’” Hedren told Star Tribune.

Inside the box was a gold pin adorned with a seed pearl.

“Hitch said, ‘Look at it closely, my dear.’

“It’s shaped like a bird,” Hedren said.

“Yes, my dear,” Hitchcock explained with his deep voice.

”You have the lead in my next production.”

That’s how Hedren got the role in what the New York Times called “a horror film that should raise the hackles on the most courageous and put goose-pimples on the toughest hide.”

Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

The filming of Birds was as chilling as the film itself.

“They used real birds. In one scene, 2,000 finches come down the fire place chimney and take over my home. But the worst scene took place in the attic. I’m attacked by crows and gulls. One bird scratched me under the eye and bit my lip. It took six days to film a sequence that lasts only two minutes on film. I was very depressed about the horror of the scene and at the end I collapsed. I stayed in bed for days,” Hedren revealed in 1962.

Following The Birds, Hedren was offered the role in Marnie. “I was amazed that he would offer me this incredible role and that he would have that kind of faith in me,” the stunning actress explained in the book Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie.

Wikipedia Commons

Although it seemed that Hedren’s career would skyrocket even further, her relationship with the famous director sort of crumbled because “[Hitchcock] was too possessive and too demanding. I cannot be possessed by anyone. But, then, that’s my own hangup,” the actress said in 1973.

Donald Spoto revealed more details regarding Hedren and Hitchcock’s relationship in his book The Dark Side of Genius which he published in 1983. According to him, the director wanted to have a say about what Hedren should eat, who she should be around, and how she lived her life. He even asked from the crew to stay away from her when they weren’t filming. Suddenly, she felt completely isolated.

“Hitch was becoming very domineering and covetous of ‘Tippi,’ and it was very difficult for her. No one was permitted to come physically close to her during the production. ‘Don’t touch the girl after I call “Cut!”‘ he said to me repeatedly,” Rod Taylor, co-star in The Birds, revealed in the book.

Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery in Marnie (1964).

Herden herself revealed, “Everyone -— I mean everyone -— knew he was obsessed with me. He always wanted a glass of wine or champagne, with me alone, at the end of the day. He was really isolating me from everyone.”

Of course, those close to Hitchcock stood by his side and said they couldn’t recognize the man described in the book as the famous director.

“He ruined my career, but he didn’t ruin my life. That time of my life was over. I still admire the man for who he was,” Hedren told Huffington Post in 2012.

“I’ve been able to separate the two. The man who was the artist. I mean, what he gave to the motion picture industry can never be taken away from him and I certainly wouldn’t want to try. But on the other side, there is that dark side that was really awful.”

Hedren with Alfred Hitchcock in a publicity photograph for Marnie (1964)

Throughout the years, the actress, who is 93 years old, has been married three times. She first wed actor and advertising executive Peter Griffith in 1952, before splitting from him nine years later. Together, they welcomed her only child, daughter and future Hollywood star Melanie Griffith. She then married her agent, Noel Marshall, and following the divorce from him, she tied the knot with Luis Barrenechea, with whom she stayed together until 1995.

Hedren with Alfred Hitchcock in a publicity photograph for Marnie (1964)

These days, she’s devoted to a cause close to her heart for many years, rescuing and caring for big cats through The Roar Foundation and the Shambala Preserve near Acton, California.

Hedren, who is a Golden Globe Award recipient, had her latest film appearance in 2017 in The Ghost and the Whale, an American mystery thriller drama film. As she moved to her 90s, she decided not to take significant roles.

“I am at the time in my life when I have done almost everything I wanted to do,” Hedren told The Hollywood Reporter.

“My constant work here at the preserve to care for my rescued and abandoned big cats fills my days now. I doubt that I will do much work in the motion-picture business or television again, and I suppose that is why this commercial was such a special offer.”

Tippi Hedren, who is one of the last surviving stars from Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, truly is a synonym for grace, class, dignity.

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