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Tippi Hedren

An American actress, former fashion model and an animal rights activist. She is known for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock films The Birds and Marnie (in which she played the title role). She has been involved with animal rescue at Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre (320,000 m2) wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983.

For the first 40 years of her career, Hedren's year of birth was reported to be 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.[3] 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 18th birthday, she bought a ticket to New York and began a professional modeling career. Within a 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.


Hedren had a successful modeling career from 1950 to 1961, appearing on the cover of Life magazine. She was discovered by Alfred Hitchcock, who was watching The Today Show when he saw Hedren in a commercial for Sego, a diet drink. Hedren later described the spot as "a story line; it wasn't just holding up a product and talking about it. It was a story and apparently he (Hitchcock) saw it." Hitchcock had been looking for an actress who possessed something of the sophistication, self-assurance and cool-blonde sex appeal of Grace Kelly, with whom he had made three films.

Hitchcock put Hedren through a then-costly $25,000 screen test, doing scenes from his previous films, such as Rebecca, Notorious and To Catch a Thief with actor Martin Balsam. He signed her to a multi-year exclusive personal contract, something he had done in the 1950s with Vera Miles.

Hitchcock's plan to mold Hedren's public image went so far as to carefully control her style of dressing and grooming. Hitchcock 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 Hedren's name. In interviews, Hitchcock compared his newcomer not only to her predecessor Grace Kelly but also to what he referred to as such "ladylike", intelligent, and stylish stars of more glamorous eras as Irene Dunne and Jean Arthur.

The Birds and Marnie

Hitchcock directed Hedren in her debut film, The Birds (1963). For the final attack scene in a second-floor bedroom, filmed on a closed set at Universal-International Studios, Hedren had been assured by Hitchcock that mechanical birds would be used. Instead, Hedren endured five solid days of prop men, protected by thick leather gloves, flinging dozens of live gulls, ravens and crows at her (their beaks clamped shut with elastic bands). In a state of exhaustion, when one of the birds gouged her cheek and narrowly missed her eye, Hedren sat down on the set and began crying.

A physician ordered a week's rest, which Hedren said at the time was riddled with "nightmares filled with flapping wings". In 1964, Hedren received a Golden Globe Award for 'Most Promising Newcomer - Female', tied with Elke Sommer and Ursula Andress.

That same year, she co-starred with Sean Connery in a second Hitchcock film, Marnie (1964), a romantic drama and psychological thriller from the novel by Winston Graham. She recalls it as her favorite of the two 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.

On release, the film was greeted by mixed reviews and indifferent box-office returns. More than four decades later, Hedren told interviewers Hitchcock continued to have her in mind for other films after Marnie, but she declined any further work with him. She said other directors who wanted to hire her had to go through Hitchcock, who would inform them she was unavailable. When Hedren tried to get out of her contract, she 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."

Hitchcock sold her contract to Universal, but she was later fired for refusing to work on one of its television shows. Her next acting roles were in Kraft Suspense Theatre and Run for Your Life, two TV shows in 1965, a year after Marnie.

On April 13, 2011, at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, New York, Hedren stated in an interview with Turner Classic Movies' Ben Mankiewicz that Hitchcock effectively stunted her career after she refused his sexual advances. These events are the basis for the BBC/HBO film The Girl (2012), featuring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock. Others who knew and worked with Hitchcock, including Eva Marie Saint and Kim Novak, refuted Hedren's account of him.

Novak criticised the film and disputed its portrayal of him as a sexual predator. She told The Daily Telegraph, "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."

However, some of Hedren's co-workers supported her. 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."[16] 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 to participate to any Hitchcock tributes.

She added, "Nothing could have been more horrible for me than to arrive on that movie set and to see her (Hedren) being treated the way she was." But no one has backed up Hedren's charges of physical or sexual harassment."

Since her falling out with Hitchcock, Hedren has appeared in over fifty films and TV shows. Hedren's first feature film appearance after Marnie was in A 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 it was only a small part, and asked Chaplin to expand her 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.

After working with Hitchcock and Chaplin, Hedren told she was waiting for a special project to come along.

In 1970, 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 whose array of wild pets turn on them. 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. 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 in the film Pacific Heights (1990), which starred her daughter Melanie 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."

In 1996, Hedren played an abortion rights activist in the independent film 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 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.

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 appeared in Jayne Mansfield's Car, directed by Billy Bob Thornton and starring Thornton, Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon. 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.

Personal life

In 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. She married her then-agent Noel Marshall, who later produced three of her films, on September 22, 1964; they divorced in 1982.

In 1985, she married steel manufacturer Luis Barrenechea, but they divorced in 1995. From 2002 she has reportedly been engaged to veterinarian Martin Dinnes. Hedren has three grandchildren from daughter Griffith: Alexander Bauer, Dakota Johnson and Stella Banderas. Her son-in-law is Antonio Banderas.

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.

Vietnamese-Americans now dominate the multi-billion dollar nail salon business in North America.

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