In her new memoir, actress Tippi Hedren is revealing what a true horror it was working with Alfred Hitchcock on the 1960s films The Birds and Marnie.
She writes that the iconic director, who she says was “obsessed” with her, sexually assaulted her on the set of Marnie, when she was alone in her dressing room.
“I’ve never gone into detail on this, and I never will,” she writes in Tippi, on sale Tuesday (William Morrow). “I’ll simply say that he suddenly grabbed me and put his hands on me. It was sexual, it was perverse, and it was ugly, and I couldn’t have been more shocked and repulsed. The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became. Then he started adding threats, as if he could do anything to me that was worse than what he was trying to do at that moment.”
When Hedren fought him off, Hitchcock promised, “I’ll ruin your career.” She was still under contract.
She says Hitchcock never spoke to her directly again, even though Marnie was still filming.
In her book, she gives credit to Hitchcock for making her a star. She was one of the “icy blondes” he favored. They first paired up on The Birds, the famed 1963 horror film about birds that suddenly attack people.
She says she began noticing that Hitchcock became cold and a “bit petulant” whenever he saw her talking to a male cast or crew member.
One afternoon she was in the back of a limo with the director when, “with no warning, he threw himself on top of me and tried to kiss me.”
“It was an awful, awful moment I’ll always wish I could erase from my memory,” writes Hedren, 86, whose daughter is actress Melanie Griffith and whose granddaughter is actress Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey).
Later, on a soundstage, “he asked me to touch him, and I’d resisted the temptation to slap him and just turned and walked away,” she writes.
Hedren says her behavior on The Birds towards her director “chilled to a polite, professional distance.” He retaliated with cruelty. He told her mechanical birds would be used in a scene in which she is attacked. Instead, live birds were subbed when the mechanical ones suddenly didn’t work. She writes that filming the scene was “brutal and ugly and relentless,” but she refused to let Hitchcock “break” her.
Despite all the ugliness, she says she felt a “wave of sadness” when Hitchcock died in 1980, and she attended his funeral. He was, she writes, a “brilliant, brilliant filmmaker.”