Tippi Hedren was an unknown model and got her break in Hollywood when Alfred Hichcock saw her in a TV commercial and instructed his staff to “find the girl”.
1 Hitchcock signed her to a $500 per week contract and immediately set about transforming her into an actress; assigning her a voice coach and acting lessons with his wife Alma.
2 Her screen test was the most expensive screen test on record, costing $25,000 (around $200,000 in today’s money) working with actor Martin Balsam on three different scenes from classic Hitchcock films – To Catch a Thief, Rebecca and Notorious.
3 Her debut role was as Melanie Daniels in The Birds. “One minute I was signing up for typing classes and the next I was thrust into the lead in an Alfred Hitchcock film!” Tippi later said. She was then awarded Best Newcomer at the Golden Globes.
4 Hitchcock’s obsession with her came to a head when he made sexual advances to her during the filming of Marnie. When she rejected him, Hitch flew into a rage threatening to ruin her career – which in many ways he did. He refused to submit her for an Oscar nomination and for the next few years, still under contract to Hitchcock everyone who wanted to work with Tippi was told, “She’s not available”..
5 Hitchcock finally sold Tippi’s contract in 1966. Freed from his control she continued to work in TV and film with appearances in The Bold and the Beautiful, Murder She Wrote, Hart to Hart and recently Cougar Town and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
6 After shooting Mister Kingstreet's War (1971), she bought a parcel of land in Southern California to establish a home for retired big cats called the Shambala Preserve.
Filming Roar in Africa in 1981 Tippi found a new passion and has since devoted much of her time to animal-rights and wildlife conservation charities.
7 Her father, Bernard Hedren, was store owner of Swedish descent, and her mother, Dorathea (Eckhardt), was a school teacher of half German and half Norwegian ancestry.
8 Tippi has been married three times to; Peter Griffith (1952-1961), Noel Marshall (1964-1982) and Luis Barrenecha (1985-1995). She has one daughter – actress Melanie Griffith’s.
9 Her first television commercial was for a cigarette brand and she learned to smoke specifically because she thought viewers would know if she was faking it. She continued to smoke until 10-year-old Melanie came to her after a school health lecture and begged her to stop.
10 Received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 30, 2003.
Yours Retro issue 5 carried an exclusive extract form Tippi’s recent autobiography. You can order a copy of Yours Retro here