Tippi Hedren, an actress, has claimed that Alfred Hitchcock sexually assaulted her in the 1960s.
The actor has previously spoken about the director’s treatment of her, much of which was depicted in the 2012 HBO film The Girl, but in her new book, Tippi: A Memoir, she delves into further depth.
Working with the renowned filmmaker had looked like a stroke of luck at first. Hedren, 31, had recently relocated to Los Angeles from New York City, where she was a divorced single mother with a failing modeling career and a 5-year-old daughter, Melanie Griffith, who would go on to become an actor herself. Hitchcock sought Hedren after seeing her in a television commercial for a meal-replacement shake.
All over a sudden, she had a five-year movie contract, as well as acting workshops with Hitch and his wife, film editor Alma Reville, and a prominent role in “The Birds,” the director’s anticipated sequel to “Psycho.”
She says that her castmates were told not to socialize with her or “touch The Girl”.
When Hitchcock saw her laughing or even talking to a man, he would become “petulant” and “icy” and look at her with a “expressionless, unwavering stare…even if he was talking to a group of people on the other side of the soundstage,” according to the actress in “Tippi,” which will be released on Tuesday.
“This is so sad, because I promise, making movies isn’t always like this,” co-star Suzanne Pleshette added, pulling the ingénue aside.
In her memoirs, she said that in the back of his vehicle, the director “threw himself” on top of her and tried to kiss her.
“It was an awful, awful moment I’ll always wish I could erase from my memory,” says Hedren, 86, whose granddaughter is actress Dakota Johnson and whose daughter is actress Melanie Griffith (Fifty Shades of Grey).
She claims she didn’t know what she could do because “sexual harassment and stalking were terms that didn’t exist” at the time, and she knew the studio valued him more than her. Hedren, who turned 86 this year, won a Golden Globe for her role.
Hedren claims that one of the mechanical crows cracked the purportedly shatterproof glass, pieces of which wounded her in the face, while filming the iconic phone booth scene in which her heroine is tormented by birds. She further claims that in a scene in which her character is attacked by birds in a bedroom, she was told that the artificial birds would not function and that actual birds would have to be used.
“Not even the greatest trainer in the world could control every move an animal makes, especially when it’s under stress,” she writes. “It was brutal and ugly and relentless.”
The torment lasted five days before Hedren “snapped” after a bird pecked her dangerously close to her eye.
She recalls, “I just sat there on the floor, unable to move, sobbing from sheer exhaustion.”
She was weary for the next week and spent it in bed.
She continues that things were not much better during filming “Marnie” the next year, as Hitchcock erected a secret door between his office and her dressing room. The director eventually made his way into her room and “put his hands on me. It was sexual, it was perverse…the harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became.” Hedren claims she has “made it my mission ever since to see to it that while Hitchcock may have ruined my career, I never gave him the power to ruin my life”, more than 50 years after these events.