I’ll admit that, if I were Tippi Hedren, I’d be kind of pissed that my name was inextricably linked with Alfred Hitchcock. After the way he treated her, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him ever again. Unfortunately for her, I think the only two movies I’ve seen of hers are Marnie and The Birds, so I can’t even just talk about all the other stuff she’s done. On the other hand, it does at least make a decent place to start talking about abuses of power in the industry?
She hadn’t even really wanted to be an actress, because she knew how hard it was to be successful. But Hitchcock saw her in a commercial—for a diet drink, apparently—and wanted her for The Birds. She was persuaded, and I can’t help wondering how much she’s regretted it since. Still, she’s also got to know that those two movies are the ones that will preserve her image in the public eye long after she’s gone.
And Hitchcock never should have had the power over her that he did. He sexually harassed her, physically abused her—these days, he wouldn’t have gotten away with the bird thing because the ASPCA wouldn’t have stood for it, but would anyone have protected the human actress he was having birds thrown at? We know that a judge has forced a woman to go back to work for the man who raped her, and Tippi Hedren managed to avoid rape. So yeah.
Probably she’d rather, though, that we talked about her lion preserve. Her work promoting careers in manicuring for Vietnamese-American women, which is intended to give them economic opportunities they might not otherwise have. Hell, her daughter, Melanie Griffith, and granddaughter, Dakota Johnson. And, of course, all those movies of hers that I haven’t actually seen; there’s a fair number of those. She’s even got three movies in production right now.
But, yes, The Birds. And Marnie. And that’s how she will always be remembered. I just hope we can remember, too, how horribly she was mistreated for those films and how much better she has deserved.