Tippi Hedren reveals the real Hitchcock

Oct 19, 2012 at 6:10 p.m. ET

Alfred Hitchcock produced some creepy films back in the day. It turns out he was also creepy in real life.


Alfred Hitchcock is getting quite the film treatment this year with two productions gracing the big and small screens over the next few months. Hitchcock, with Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel, will be released in theatres in November, while the HBO film The Girl, starring Sienna Miller, debuts on Oct. 21.

The TV film sheds some light on the dark, twisted relationship Hitchcock had with his film muse, Tippi Hedren, who he signed to a seven-year contract. Hedren went on to star in some of the director's most iconic films including The Birds and Marnie. Yet the working relationship between the two was not so easy.

The actress endured years of harassment and an attempted sexual assault from the married Hitchcock, but she did not have the power to report him to authorities. Hedren says, "I had not talked about this issue with Alfred Hitchcock to anyone. Because all those years ago, it was still the studio kind of situation. Studios were the power. And I was at the end of that, and there was absolutely nothing I could do legally whatsoever. There were no laws about this kind of a situation. If this had happened today, I would be a very rich women."

The Vertigo director had a tendency to fall for his leading ladies, but his obsession with Hedren exceeded his other crushes. The actress continues, "Peggy Robertson, [Hitchcock’s] assistant for so many years, and I remained friends until she died. And she, at one point, said to me that he would have these kind of feelings for his leading ladies. And she said, ‘But he never got over you,’ which I don’t know if that’s a compliment."

It seems like other leading ladies had a bit of trouble with Hitchcock as well. Vera Miles, star of Psycho, rebuffed his advances and "would never even speak about him to anyone," says the now-82-year-old actress. And Suzanne Pleshette took Hedren aside on The Birds set and told her, "It isn't always like this."

Unfortunately, when the mother of Melanie Griffith asked to be let out of her contract, Hitchcock essentially ruined her career. The terms of the contract allowed the controlling director to approve or disapprove any contract offers.

"When I got out of The Birds and Marnie I was, as the saying goes, 'hot,'" says Hedren. Yet any role that was offered to her outside of the Hitchcock world the director turned down for her. His control over her career never ceased until her contract ran out. Hitchcock passed away in 1980, and Hedren dedicated herself to humanitarian causes.

Image courtesy of Josie Kerns/ WENN