Tippi Hedren is still haunted by Alfred Hitchcock and his horrid birds, says Tim Teeman in the London Times. In the early 1960s, Hedren was plucked from obscurity when the legendary director cast her as the lead actress in The Birds. “I was teary eyed,” Hedren recalls. “I was going to be a star.” But Hedren, now 78, says that during the film’s shooting, Hitchcock became obsessed with her and turned on her when she wouldn’t return his affections. “He watched me all the time. He wanted to have private lunches. He’d want a glass of champagne after shooting. He really wanted to control my life.” In the film’s climax, Hedren’s character is attacked by hundreds of squawking birds in a closed room. She’d been told they would be mechanical, but Hitchcock used real ones instead. “They tied the birds to me with elastic bands. They hurled birds at me. One of the birds tied on my shoulder only just missed scraping its claw into my eye. I sat in the middle of the soundstage and cried.” She later made another film with Hitchcock, Marnie, but when the same pattern emerged, she said she wanted out of her contract. Hitchcock refused. “He said, ‘I’ll ruin your career.’ And he did. He kept me under contract, $600 a week. I didn’t make any movies.” This all occurred before women were legally protected from sexual harassment, says Hedren, who now lives on the California wildlife reserve she founded in 1983. “If it happened today, I’d be rich.”
Hedren’s unhappy stardom
October 3, 2008
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