Friday, August 3, 2012
One of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest talents is taking someone unknown and making them a somebody in the acting world. Grace Kelly was not that famous before him, and I'm pretty sure that goes for a lot of actors and actress' from back then. But another person that comes to mind is Tippi Hedren.
Tippi Hedren was born as Nathalie Hedren on January 19, 1930. She was a huge animal lover, even in the beginning of life. Now as an adult, she has her own Zoo, if you will. She holds wild animals that need help due to some illness or disability. She was born in a hospital in New Ulm, Minnesota. Her nickname was Tupsa, which means cute or adorable girl, and that is how Tippi came to be. She has been known as Tippi her whole life. One day, while she got off of a streetcar near her home, a woman gave her a business card and told her to go to a department store because this woman believed her to be a successful model. She did so, and then blossomed into a magazine type front page model. Tippi soon found herself in front of a camera, and was in commercials. Then appearing in TV shows, such as The Aldrich Family. Then she met her husband Peter Griffith, after marriage she gave birth to Melanie Griffith. This was before The Birds. Everyone thought that her daughter was named after her role in The Birds, when in fact, they finalized Tippi's name in the movie after her daughter. So the rumor is reversed. The Griffith's did end up divorcing later on.
Alfred Hitchcock thought Tippi was beautiful. He had seen her on TV and wanted that woman to be found for a picture he wanted to film. Alfred found her, and had her go in for a meeting one day. Mrs. Hitchcock coached Tippi from scenes from Rebecca, Notorious, and To Catch a Thief. Hitchcock said that movies did not have classic beauty anymore, and seemed to vanish after Grace Kelly. Hitch had Edith Head design clothes for Tippi and her private life too. The way Tippi was asked to be in The Birds: Hitchcock had her meet him, Mrs. Hitchcock and a man named Lew Wasserman at Chasen's. A famous restaurant in Hollywood. Lew gave her a small gift, which was a gold and pearl pin with three birds that have taken flight. Then they announced that they wanted her to play the part of Melanie Daniels. She was amazed and excited.
Tippi did not have any history in movies or acting for that matter. But Hitchcock could do anything. Even turn a regular woman, with no experience into a top actress. The was his gift. And that made him one of the best directors ever. After filming started, Hitchcock felt that he did not need to coach anyone in the movie. He felt that everyone knew what they were doing. But he did, after a while, become strangely fixed on Miss. Hedren. Everyone on the set noticed. Even the co-actors. Like Rod Taylor for example. He said that Hitch seemed domineering. Hitchcock did not want anyone touching Hedren, nobody was allowed to be with her at the end of the day. Only Hedren was allowed in her dressing room. He even did not allow her own daughter to see her at the studio. Her own daughter!!! She was to go in and out of the studio alone. Hitchcock became obsessed. Hitchcock would even study her. Stare at his beautiful star. He made sure to listen in to her conversations on set. He would send her flowers, wine, gifts and he even wrote her notes like a boy would do in school to get a girls attention. He controlled what she ate, drank and wore. He stalked her, and she even made a comment one day that she at one point only wanted to go home to her daughter.
At the end of one week, Alma went up to Tippi, knowing what Hedren was going through, said: "Oh, Tippi, dear, I am so sorry you have to go through all this - I am so sorry." But it was also known that Mrs. Hitchcock was very protective of her husband. At one point too, Hitchcock, angry that Tippi did not want to sleep with him, had her get thrown real birds on the set. One even scratched up her lower eyelid. She kept crying and saying that she could no longer do this. The bird event when scratched happened on a Friday. The Doctor that saw her told her to stay in bed for a week. But Hitchcock demanded that she was needed for that Monday coming up. The doctor said to him "are you crazy, are you trying to kill her?"
Hitchcock had made Tippi's life difficult. Saying that he would ruin her career. She ended up in one more Hitchcock film. Marnie. Again, everyone noticed the tension and humiliation that Hedren had to go through. Sean Connery noticed and also Diane Baker. Tippi wanted her own life, and was unable to do so because she was stuck and Hitchcock made sure of it. Luckily this was her last film with him. She was very unhappy during this last movie with him. He tried to kiss her. And Diane Baker even stood up for her. One day, Hitchcock pulled Ms. Baker to the side. And was talking very rudely about Ms. Hedren, and right in front of her dressing room trailer. Ms. Baker then later, told him that she had enough of his rudeness towards Tippi and then asked the director what he said behind her back. Hitchcock did the same thing he did during The Birds, which was that Sean Connery, who was Tippi's husband in the movie, he was not to touch Tippi either.
Diane Baker also had a lot of issues with Alfred Hitchcock as well. He had always tried to talk about sex with her, and even told her that he had not had sex with his wife in a long time. But even though they had a difficult time with the great director. They still can say that they came up on top. Tippi being in two of Hitchcock's greatest and Diane Baker being in one. That was something they can be proud of. Now Tippi is doing well with her daughter, and living in California. With her true love, the wildlife. I have said this in the past, but I got to meet Tippi Hedren. And I must say, she is an amazing woman. Tiny and beautiful still today. And a beautiful smile as well.