Updated January 19, 2020, 2:15 p.m.
In Hollywood, Tippi Hedren is famous as a woman who was attacked by birds. Alfred Hitchcock’s muse from “The Birds” reproaches the director long before the #MeToo movement. At the age of 90, the actress devoted herself entirely to animal protection.
Her film debut was many decades ago. But Tippi Hedren’s appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963) is unforgettable. The horror classic, in which flocks of birds attack a village and its inhabitants, made the delicate blonde actress a star overnight. Hedren was 33 years old at the time. This Sunday (January 19), the Hollywood icon with now silver-gray hair is celebrating her 90th birthday.
Still adorable at 90
Hedren’s age is hardly noticeable. “Mom was a party girl from back then,” wrote her daughter, actress Melanie Griffith (62, “The Guns of Women”) on Instagram in mid-December for a photo of the former canvas beauty at a Christmas party. “High heels and leggings, artificial fur, diamonds and wine.” At almost 90, her mother would still charm everyone, commented Griffith. In the red glitter sweater, Hedren smiles charmingly at the camera.
Her elegant sex appeal and the slightly hypothermic, elegant charisma had also caught the eye of star director Hitchcock. The Briton had long been famous for films such as “The Window to the Courtyard”, “Vertigo” and “Psycho” when he saw an advertising film for a diet shake with hedren in 1961. He immediately gave the blonde model a seven-year contract and the leading role in “The Birds”. Also for the thriller “Marnie” alongside Sean Connery, Hitchcock brought his blonde muse back to the camera a year later.
Hitchcock built it up and destroyed it
He made Hedren a star, but at the same time he also destroyed her career, the actress said in later interviews. Hedren would be a typical case of the # MeToo movement today. Women speak up, who accuse men in show business – like film producer Harvey Weinstein – of sexual assault and abuse of power.
In her own words, Hedren had been sexually assaulted by the married Hitchcock. She would have blocked him constantly and never wanted to have a relationship with him, Hedren said in an interview in 2012 with the “New York Times”. He didn’t let her out of the contract out of revenge. This prevented her from filming with other directors. “I would have been a big star if he hadn’t blocked my career,” believes Hedren. But at the same time she admires the filmmaker who died in 1980. “Nobody in this world made films like him. Nobody,” Hedren told the newspaper.
Hedren played in Charlie Chaplin’s last directorial work, the comedy “The Countess of Hong Kong” (1967). There were other film and TV roles, but nothing could match the success of her Hitchcock films. A financial flop was the animal adventure “Roar”, which her then husband Noel Marshall staged in 1981 with a number of big cats. Hedren was in front of the camera with daughter Melanie.
Hedren later admitted that there were many breakdowns during the shooting. Her husband was bitten, the daughter got scratches that had to be operated on. “We had no idea what we were doing,” said Hedren about filming the New York Times wildcats.
Hedren is dedicated to animal welfare
The actress has been protecting big cats since the 1970s. North of Los Angeles, she bought a large property on which she runs the “Shambala” predator reserve. Neglected and abused tigers, leopards, lions and other animals find a new home there.
Hedren himself is no longer in front of the film camera, but with her daughter and granddaughter Dakota Johnson (30, “Fifty Shades of Gray”) the actress occasionally still basks in the spotlight. Johnson strolled the red carpet with her famous grandmother two years ago at the Hollywood premiere of her film “Suspiria”.
But Hedren also knows its limits. She will never watch the erotic film “Fifty Shades of Gray”, in which Johnson plays the leading female role, said Hedren in 2015 in Austria, where she was a star guest at the Vienna Film Festival Viennale. “Who wants to watch his granddaughter having sex?”