Hedren’s memorable screen debut was in the Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” in 1963
The actress Tippi Hedren turns 91
Born in New Ulm, Minnesota on January 19, 1930, the actress Tippi Hedren first came to prominence during the 1950’s as a fashion model. She appeared in several front covers of Life and Glamour magazines among others, but was during the early 1960’s that she became famous when asked by Alfred Hitchcock, who saw her for the first time in a TV commercial, to make screen tests for him. The screen tests resulted in Tippi Hedren’s famous debut role in “The Birds” (1963) which earned her a Golden Globe. As it been noted by several biographers over the years, the British movie director had a habit of infatuation and possession towards the actresses that starred in his movies, and Hedren was no exception. While filming Hitchcock’s psychological drama “Marnie” in 1964, she stepped away from him after he sexually harassed her. In the 2008 book about Hitchcock, Spellbound by Beauty, Hedren revealed that Hitchcock actually made offensive demands on her. “He stared at me and simply said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, that from this time on, he expected me to make myself sexually available and accessible to him—however and whenever and wherever he wanted…he made these demands on me, and no way could I acquiesce to them”. Subsequently, Hedren reveals that the director threatened to ruin her acting career. Finally in 1966 he agreed in breaking her contract. Despite all this, Hedren also stated that Hitchcock became her drama coach, giving her an education in film-making as she attended many of the production meetings such as script, music or photography conferences: “I probably learned in three years what it would have taken me 15 years to learn otherwise.” Throughout her career she appeared in more than 80 movies and TV shows including Charlie Chaplin’s final film, “A Countess from Hong Kong” (1967) In 1973, Hedren played a teacher of an experimental sex school in “The Harrad Experiment” which starred Don Johnson, who would later become the husband of her also famous daughter, Melanie Griffith. An animal activist, her commitment to animal rescue began in 1969 while she was shooting two films in Africa and was introduced to the plight of African lions, bringing to the screen eleven years later “Roar” (1981), an adventure comedy film co-produced by Hedren and her then husband Noel Marshall, who also directed the movie that starred alongside Hedren her daughter Melanie Griffith. Tippi Hedren has remained an active actress on film and TV up until 2015, her two last feature movies were the 2012 “Free Samples” and “Return to Babylon” in 2013. Today she celebrates 90.
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