Tippi Hedren has claimed she was sexually assaulted by Alfred Hitchcock as a young actress. The 86-year-old has opened up about the harassment and intimidation she suffered at the hands of the legendary director – who died in 1980 – after signing a five-year movie deal with him when she was 31.
In extracts from her autobiography, ‘Tippi: A Memoir’, published in the New York Post newspaper, Tippi recalled how the filmmaker warned her castmates on her breakthrough movie ‘The Birds’ not to socialize with or “touch The Girl” even before they began filming, and claimed he would become “icy and petulant” if he saw her talking or laughing with a man on the set, and would fix her with an “expressionless, unwavering stare . . . even if he was talking to a group of people on the other side of the soundstage.”
Hitchcock described to his leading lady how he had got an erection while directing Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in ‘To Catch a Thief’, had his driver detour past her house, had her handwriting analysed and even asked her to “touch him”.
And her co-star Suzanne Pleshette even had to pull her aside and reassure her, saying: “This is so sad, because I promise, making movies isn’t always like this.”
At one point, the filmmaker threw himself on top of the actress and tried to kiss her in the back of the car.
Tippi said of the incident: “It was an awful, awful moment.”
But she didn’t tell anyone because “sexual harassment and stalking were terms that didn’t exist” in the early 1960s.
She added: “Which one of us was more valuable to the studio, him or me?”
Tippi also slammed the director for “lying” and using flocks of real birds in the final scene of the movie, despite having claimed he planned to use mechanical creatures”, with the “brutal and ugly and relentless” footage taking five days to shoot before the actress “snapped”.
She added: “I just sat there on the floor, unable to move, and began sobbing from sheer exhaustion.”
She then began blacking out and had nightmares, prompting a doctor to order she take a week off, something Hitchcock refused to allow until the medic warned he would “kill her”.
A year later, Tippi reunited with the director to work on ‘Marnie’, and his sinister behavior escalated.
She revealed in the book the filmmaker commissioned the make-up department to make a mask of her face just for him to own, and installed a secret door to connect his office with her dressing room.
One day, he entered her dressing room and “put his hands on me.”
She wrote of the assault: “It was sexual, it was perverse. The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became.”
Though Tippi was under contract to the director for two more years, she never worked with him again after ‘Marnie’.