Not only is Tippi Hedren the woman that so captivated director Alfred Hitchcock, she’s also the woman who, far before any hint of the #MeToo movement, stood up to Hollywood heavyweights.
The actress, who celebrated her 90th birthday on January 19, first shot to fame in Hitchcock’s The Birds, after he saw her in a commercial for a diet soft drink and demanded his people “find that girl”.
While the Minnesota-born model owes her career to Hitchcock, he was also the person who single-handedly ruined it after Tippi, just two movies into a seven-year contract with him, rejected his advances and harassment.
“I’ll ruin your career!” he yelled at the young actress as she declared she was leaving.
“Do what you have to do,” she replied.
Now, 56 years on, Tippi has proved to the world that she’s so much more than the object of a difficult director’s desire – a man whom she looks back on today with a mix of “admiration, gratitude and utter disgust”.
Born Nathalie Kay Hedren in 1930, she became ‘Tippi’ at age four, when her father Bernard bestowed her with the nickname and it stuck.
Acting was never part of her plan. When Tippi turned 20, she bought a one-way ticket to New York, working as a very successful fashion model in the 1950s and early 1960s. She married and divorced actor Peter Griffith, with whom she had daughter Melanie, before relocating to California in 1961.
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