Brent Lang reports: Alfred Hitchcock made Tippi Hedren a star, giving her showy roles in “The Birds” and “Marnie.” But when she refused the director’s sexual advances, he threatened to destroy her career.
“When he told me that he would ruin me, I just told him do what he had to do,” recalls Hedren. “I went out of the door and slammed it so hard that I looked back to see if it was still on its hinges.”
“This is nothing new. These things have been going on since man and woman were first put on our planet. It’s just very disconcerting to constantly have men believe they can just do whatever they want with women.”
— Tippi Hedren
During the shooting of their two movies, Hitchcock would get jealous and resentful when he saw Hedren speaking to male colleagues. At one point, when they were both in the back of a limousine, the director lunged at Hedren and tried to kiss her. In another encounter, during the filming of “Marnie,” Hitchcock asked the actress to touch him and shared romantic fantasies with her. After she rebuffed him, he chilled toward her.
“It was absolutely awful, and as soon as the movie ‘Marnie’ was over, I was out of there,” she says. “That was the end of the Hitchcock relationship. I finished the movie and didn’t have any other contact.”
The 87-year-old actress sees parallels between what happened to her with Hitchcock and the sexual harassment and abuse scandal roiling the movie business. Alleged predators like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. use their position to prey on people in the same way that Hitchcock tried to pressure her, Hedren says.
“This is nothing new,” she notes. “These things have been going on since man and woman were first put on our planet. It’s just very disconcerting to constantly have men believe they can just do whatever they want with women.”
Hitchcock made good on his threats to try to derail Hedren’s career, keeping her under contract while failing to offer her big movie projects. After “Marnie” hit theaters in 1964, it was three years before Hedren was cast in another major film — this time in a supporting role in Charlie Chaplin’s “A Countess From Hong Kong.” None of her future projects would match the success of “The Birds,” nor would any roles be as meaty as her star turn as a traumatized woman in “Marnie.” Hedren, though, ended up devoting more of her time to … (read more)