Early lifeFor much of her career, Hedren's year of birth was listed as 1935, although in 2004, she acknowledged that she was actually born in 1930. Hedren was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, the daughter of Bernard Carl and Dorothea Henrietta (née Eckhardt) Hedren. Her paternal grandparents were emigrants from Sweden, while her maternal ancestry is German and Norwegian. Her father ran a small general store in the small town of Lafayette, Minnesota, and gave her the nickname "Tippi".
When she was four, she moved with her parents to Minneapolis.
As a teenager, Hedren took part in department store fashion shows. Her parents relocated to California while she was a high school student. On reaching her 20th birthday, she bought a ticket to New York City and began a professional modeling career. Within the year she made her unofficial film debut as an uncredited extra in the musical comedy The Petty Girl; in interviews she refers to The Birds as her first film.
Collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock
DiscoveryHedren had a successful modeling career in the 1950s and early 1960s, once appearing on the cover of Life magazine.
On Friday the 13th of October 1961, Hedren received a call from an agent who told her a producer was interested in working with her. When she was told it was Alfred Hitchcock who, while he was watching The Today Show, saw her in a commercial for a diet drink called Sego, she agreed to sign a seven-year contract. During their first meeting, the two talked about everything except the role he was considering her for. Hedren was convinced for several weeks it was for his television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Hitchcock put Hedren through a $25,000 screen test, doing scenes from his previous films, such as Rebecca, Notorious and To Catch a Thief with actor Martin Balsam. According to Balsam, Hedren was very nervous but studied every line and move she was asked and tried to do everything right. Hitchcock asked costume designer Edith Head to design clothes for Hedren's private life and he personally advised her about wine and food. He also insisted for publicity purposes that her name should be printed only in single quotes, 'Tippi'. The press mostly ignored this directive from the director, who felt that the single quotes added distinction and mystery to her name.
Hitchcock was impressed with Hedren as production designer Robert F. Boyle explained. "Hitch always liked women who behaved like well-bred ladies. Tippi generated that quality." Because he was happy with her screen test, Hitchcock invited Hedren to a dinner where he offered her a golden pin of three birds in flight and asked her to play the leading role in his film, The Birds.
The BirdsThe Birds (1963) was Hedren's screen debut. Hitchcock became her drama coach and gave her an education in film-making as she attended many of the production meetings like script, music or photography conferences. Hedren said, "I probably learned in three years what it would have taken me 15 years to learn otherwise." She learned how to break down a script, to become another character and to study the relationship of different characters. Hedren portrayed her role of Melanie Daniels as Hitchcock requested. "He gives his actors very little leeway. He'll listen, but he has a very definite plan in mind as to how he wants his characters to act. With me, it was understandable, because I was not an actress of stature. I welcomed his guidance."
While promoting The Birds, Hitchcock was full of praise for his new protégé and compared her to Grace Kelly. "Tippi has a faster tempo, city glibness, more humor [than Grace Kelly]. She displayed jaunty assuredness, pertness, an attractive throw of the head. And she memorized and read lines extraordinarily well and is sharper in expression." For her performance, Hedren received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year, tied with Elke Sommer and Ursula Andress.
MarnieMarnie (1964), a romantic drama and psychological thriller from the novel by Winston Graham. Hedren was stunned and later said, "I thought Marnie was an extremely interesting role to play and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity". She voiced doubts about her ability to play that demanding role but was assured by Hitchcock she could do it. Contrary to The Birds where she had received little acting guidance, Hedren studied every scene with the director.
Hedren recalled Marnie as her favorite of the two films she did with Hitchcock for the challenge of playing an emotionally battered young woman who travels from city to city assuming various guises in order to rob her employers. During the filming, Hitchcock was quoted as saying about Hedren, "an Academy Award performance is in the making". On release, the film was greeted by mixed reviews and indifferent box-office returns, and received no Oscar nominations.
Troubled relations with HitchcockHedren's relationship with Hitchcock caused much controversy. In 1973, she admitted that a major life-style difference caused a split in their relationship. "He was too possessive and too demanding. I cannot be possessed by anyone. But, then, that's my own hangup."
Hedren explained her silence before telling her story, “It was embarrassing and insulting—there were a lot of reasons why I didn’t want to tell the story. I didn’t want it to be taken advantage of, twisted, turned and made into an even uglier situation than it was.”
Lew Wasserman, she was becoming very unhappy about the whole situation. "But he was Alfred Hitchcock, the great and famous director, and I was Tippi Hedren, an inexperienced actress who had no clout." She decided she could not quit her contract because she was afraid to be blacklisted and unable to find work. Hedren's own daughter, Melanie Griffith, remembered that while Hedren was doing The Birds, she thought Hitchcock was taking her mother away from her. "Suddenly, I wasn't allowed even to visit my mom at the studio."
She said Hitchcock had no consideration for her feelings and remembered she was humiliated after he asked her to touch him, just before shooting a scene. "He made sure no one else could hear, and his tone and glance made it clear exactly what he meant."
Hedren asked Hitchcock’s permission one day to travel to New York to appear on The Tonight Show where she was supposed to be presented an award as the Most Promising New Star. Hitchcock refused because, according to his biographer, he thought a break would harm her performance. Hedren said it was during that meeting Hitchcock 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." She told him she wanted to get out of her contract because, "He made these demands on me, and no way could I acquiesce to them," and recalls Hitchcock telling her he'd ruin her career. "And he did: kept me under contract, kept paying me every week for almost two years to do nothing. Hedren was furious and apparently called the director a fat pig in front of people on the set. Hitchcock made only a comment about it to his biographer, John Russell Taylor, "She did what no one is permitted to do. She referred to my weight." The two communicated only through a third party for the rest of the film.
As her contract allowed Hitchcock to approve or not any offers she received, Hedren said that he turned down several film roles on her behalf and was particularly disappointed when French director François Truffaut told her he had wanted her for a film. Although Hedren never mentioned the title, it was reported the film was Fahrenheit 451 (1966), starring Julie Christie in the role Hedren was considered for. Truffaut's daughter Laura disputed this saying her father was not secretive about the actors he considered and never mentioned Hedren for that film, "It is extremely unlikely in my view, that my father seriously entertained this project without sharing it with my mother or mentioning it to us in later years."
In 1966, Hitchcock finally sold her contract to Universal Studios after Hedren appeared in two of their TV shows, Kraft Suspense Theatre (1965) and Run for Your Life (id.). She was released from her contract after she refused to work on a TV Western for them.
ControversyHedren's account contrasted with the many interviews she gave about her time with Hitchcock, her warm tribute she paid to him when he was honoured with the AFI Life Achievement Award by the American Film Institute in 1979, and her presence at his funeral. When asked about it, Hedren answered, "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."
The BBC/HBO film The Girl (2012), featuring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock, was based on Spoto's book Spellbound by Beauty. The film was controversial as others who knew and worked with Hitchcock responded to it negatively. Other actresses have spoken about the close attention Hitchcock paid to details of the leading ladies' characters and appearances in his films, but said that no harassment was involved. Kim Novak, who worked on Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958), disputed Hitchcock's portrayal as a sexual predator in The Girl, "I never saw him make a pass at anybody or act strange to anybody. And wouldn't you think if he was that way, I would've seen it or at least seen him with somebody? I think it's unfortunate when someone's no longer around and can't defend themselves."[ Novak previously described Hitchcock as a gentleman and, when asked about reports of his behaviour, she said, "Maybe I just wasn't his type." Eva Marie Saint stated that Hitchcock was very protective of her during the filming of North by Northwest (1959) and that all his leading ladies had a different take on him adding, "I mean, look at how he tried to overpower Tippi Hedren – not only in her career, but in her life. He never did that with me." She said her relation with Hitchcock was “a different scenario," than Hedren's, "I was married and he really liked my husband.”
Upon its release, Hedren said although she believed the film accurately portrays Hitchcock's negative behaviour towards her, the time constraints of a 90-minute film prevented telling the entire story of her career with him. "It wasn't a constant barrage of harassment. If it had been constantly the way we have had to do it in this film, I would have been long gone". She recalled there were times she described as "absolutely delightful and wonderful,” and insisted that “Hitchcock had a charm about him. He was very funny at times. He was incredibly brilliant in his field."
James H. Brown, the first assistant director on The Birds and Marnie, who was interviewed several years before The Girl, said Hedren and Hitchcock had differences on Marnie, recognized it was possible the director lost control and interest on the set of the film, but added, "I thought some of the things expressed about Hitchcock were highly over exaggerated. I think Hitchcock became a little upset with Tippi because she wasn't fulfilling the star qualities that he thought she had or was looking for."
Rod Taylor, her co-star in The Birds, remembered, "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."
Diane Baker, Hedren's co-star in Marnie, said that her memories of the film were so painful she tried to forget the experience and turned down participation in any Hitchcock tributes. She added, "I never saw Tippi enjoying herself with the rest of us. (...) None of us ever saw her having a warm, friendly relationship with him. (...) Nothing could have been more horrible for me than to arrive on that movie set and to see her being treated the way she was." Baker knew everything she said was reported to Hitchcock and she made sure he learned how unhappy she was about his attitude toward Hedren. Baker was happy not to be under contract to him, the way Hedren was, because she could get away.
Jay Presson Allen, Marnie's screenwriter, admitted Hitchcock was "mad" for Hedren. She added that she was unhappy for both and described the situation as "an old man's cri de coeur".
Virginia Darcy, Hedren's hairdresser, declined an invitation from Hedren to see The Girl, but she admitted she told Hitchcock he should not be possessive with Hedren. "Tippi felt rightly that she was not his property, but he'd say, 'You are, I have a contract.'"
Bulk of careerA Countess from Hong Kong (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. She was told by writer/director Charlie Chaplin that she was offered a major supporting role as Brando's estranged wife and had to accept the film without reading the script. However, when she finally received it, she realized that her part was little more than a cameo, and asked Chaplin to expand the role. Although Chaplin tried to accommodate her, he could not, as the story mostly takes place on a ship, which Hedren's character boards near the end of the film. Hedren later said that it was both very amusing and strange working for him.
In 1968, Hedren returned to film with the leading role of Rita Armstrong, a socialite who helps her boyfriend (played by George Armstrong) to catch a killer, in Tiger by the Tail. In the same year, she guest-starred on The Courtship of Eddie's Father as Bill Bixby's girlfriend. She then agreed to take part in two films, Satan's Harvest (1970), opposite George Montgomery, and Mister Kingstreet's War (1973), shot back-to-back, for the only reason they were made in Africa.
In 1973, Hedren was in The Harrad Experiment with James Whitmore and Don Johnson. She confessed at the time she was occasionally depressed over the fact she wasn't doing any major films.
Hedren starred alongside her then-husband, the agent and occasional producer Noel Marshall in the 1981 film Roar (directed by Marshall), about a family's misadventures in a research park filled with lions, tigers, and other wild cats. The film cost $17 million to make but grossed only $2 million worldwide. In 1982, she co-starred with Leslie Nielsen in Foxfire Light.
In the 1980s, Hedren appeared in several primetime television series including Hart to Hart in 1983 and Tales from the Darkside in 1984. In the 1985 pilot episode of The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, she made a brief appearance as a waitress in a bar who berates a customer, played by her daughter Melanie Griffith. In 1990, Hedren had a role on the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. That same year, she had a non-speaking, minor part as a wealthy widow romanced by Michael Keaton in the film Pacific Heights (1990), which starred her daughter Griffith.
In the early 1990s, Hedren appeared in many television movies such as Return to Green Acres (1990), Through the Eyes of a Killer (1992), and Treacherous Beauties (1994). In 1994, she appeared in the made-for-cable sequel The Birds II: Land's End, in a role different from the one she played in the original. Before its release, she admitted she was unhappy that she didn't get a starring role and, when asked about what could have been Hitchcock's opinion, she answered : "I'd hate to think what he would say!".In a 2007 interview, Hedren said of the film, "It's absolutely horrible, it embarrasses me horribly."
abortion rights activist in Alexander Payne's political satire Citizen Ruth with Laura Dern. In 1998, she co-starred alongside Billy Zane, Christina Ricci, Eartha Kitt, Andrew McCarthy and Ron Perlman in I Woke Up Early the Day I Died, a film she particularly liked due to the fact that it had no dialogue in it. After appearing in a number of little-exposed films between 1999 and 2003, Hedren had a small but showy role in the 2004 David O. Russell comedy I Heart Huckabees, as a foul-mouthed attractive older woman who slaps Jude Law in an elevator.
Hedren continued to guest-star on television series throughout the 1990s and 2000s, in series such as Chicago Hope (1998), The 4400 (2006) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2008). She was a cast member of the short-lived primetime soap opera Fashion House in 2006 with Bo Derek and Morgan Fairchild. While filming an episode on June 22, 2006, a gallon of water fell from the ceiling and hit Hedren "at about 25 mph" leading to a return of crippling headaches she had suffered earlier in life. Later in 2006 the actress retained lawyer Joseph Allen to file a personal injury claim against the owner of the sound stage; after a seven-year litigation, she was awarded $1.5 million in damages in December 2013.
In 2009, Hedren appeared in the Lifetime movie Tribute, which starred actress Brittany Murphy in one of Murphy's last roles. She provided the voice for the character of Queen Hippolyta on the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold in 2011. In 2012, Hedren and her daughter Griffith guest-starred together on an episode of Raising Hope. She then acted in Jayne Mansfield's Car, directed by Billy Bob Thornton and starring Thornton, Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon, but her scenes were left on the cutting room floor. In the same year Hedren starred, alongside Jess Weixler and Jesse Eisenberg, Free Samples, directed by Jay Gammill. Hedren guest-starred in the fourth season finale of Cougar Town; her episode ("Have Love Will Travel") aired on the 9th April, 2013.
In 2013, exactly fifty years after The Birds, Hedren returned to Bodega to shoot a film called The Ghost and the Whale.
InfluenceA Louis Vuitton ad campaign in 2006 paid tribute to Hedren and Hitchcock with a modern-day interpretation of the deserted railway station opening sequence of Marnie. Bridget Fonda, who played Hedren's daughter in the straight-to-cable film Break Up (1998), gushed to her that she had watched Marnie "a million times."
In interviews, Naomi Watts has stated that her character interpretation in Mulholland Drive (2001) was influenced by the look and performances of Hedren in Hitchcock films. Watts and Hedren later acted in I Heart Huckabees (2004) but didn't share any scenes together onscreen. Off-screen, the film's director David O. Russell introduced them both, and Watts has said about Hedren, "I was pretty fascinated by her then because people have often said that we're alike." Watts dressed up as Hedren's title character from Marnie for a photo shoot for March 2008 issue of Vanity Fair. In the same issue, Jodie Foster dressed up as Hedren's character, Melanie Daniels from The Birds.
Another issue of Vanity Fair referred to January Jones's character in Mad Men as "Tippi Hedren's soul sister from Marnie". The New York Times television critic earlier had echoed the same sentiment in his review of Mad Men. January Jones said that she "takes it a compliment of sorts" when compared to Grace Kelly and Hedren. Actress Téa Leoni said that her character in the film Manure (2009) is made up to look like Hedren.
Personal lifeIn 1952, Hedren met and married 18-year-old future advertising executive Peter Griffith. Their daughter, actress Melanie Griffith, was born on August 9, 1957. They were divorced in 1961. On September 22, 1964, Hedren married her then-agent Noel Marshall, who later produced three of her films; they divorced in 1982. In 1985, she married steel manufacturer Luis Barrenechea, but they divorced in 1995.[She was engaged to veterinarian Martin Dinnes from 2002 until their breakup in mid-2008.In September 2008, Hedren told The Sunday Times "I’m waiting for someone to sweep me off my feet.”
Hedren played a role in the development of Vietnamese-American nail salons in the United States. In 1975, while an international relief coordinator with Food for the Hungry, she began visiting with refugees at Hope Village outside Sacramento, California.When Hedren found that the women were interested in her manicured nails, she employed her manicurist to teach them the skills of the trade and worked with a local beauty school to help them find jobs.Her work with the Vietnamese-Americans was the subject of "Happy Hands" directed by Honey Lauren, which won Best Documentary Short at the Sonoma International Film Festival in 2014. Vietnamese-Americans now dominate the multi-billion dollar nail salon business in North America. CND and Beauty Changes Lives Foundation (BCL) have announced the BCL CND Tippi Hedren Nail Scholarship Fund to support professional nail education and will be administered starting January 1, 2014.
Hedren suffered from severe and persistent headaches for a long time and therefore was unable to accept several projects, including a television series produced by and starring Betty White. After she got a titanium plate put in her neck, she was able to improve and was not feeling as much pain she had endured for years. She then agreed, with the blessing of her doctor, to take the part of a dying woman in the soap opera Fashion House. While she was rehearsing a scene, a gallon of water fell from the ceiling onto her head. The headaches returned after the incident and persisted. Hedren filed a suit to receive recompense following her inability to work. Hedren's lawyer, Joseph Allen, made a mistake in his discussions with the defendants that allowed them to block him from filing suit. Hedren then sued Allen for malpractice. In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Hedren had been awarded a $1.5 million settlement, including $213,400 for past lost earnings and $440,308 for future lost earnings, against her former lawyer. Hedren was hurt by the report as she had not collected the award. She gave an interview to explain that her former lawyer does not have the money to pay her. She also discussed how the report put her in a difficult situation as her Foundation is in dire need of funds. She explained she has to raise $75,000 every month to keep it going. "Chances are I won’t ever even see the money, and that what hurts so badly, that in all of this pain and suffering that publication ran with a swift and not researched story, which told people around the world who have been so gracious and thoughtful about sending donations, that I no longer needed them."