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I met Tippi Hedren when she was a guest at the Autographica event held at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Birmingham, in May 2010.
She signed a photograph for me of her as Melanie Daniels, her famous character from the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds.
Tippi Hedren was born Nathalie Kay Hedren in New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1930. Her mother was of Norwegian descent, and her father (who ran a general store) was of Swedish descent. Thinking the name Nathalie a bit much for a baby, her father preferred to call her Tippi, from the Swedish word Tupsa meaning 'a little girl'.
Tippi took part in fashion shows for the local department store as a teenager, and on reaching her 18th birthday, travelled to New York to begin a modelling career. With her strikingly good looks and figure, she found plenty of opportunities, including an uncredited film role as a model in the musical comedy The Petty Girl (1950).
For twelve years she enjoyed much success as a model, appearing on magazine covers (including Life magazine) and advertising various pr
products. It was in a
Tippi Hedren in 1952
commercial for the diet drink Sego that Tippi was seen by film Director Alfred Hitchcock who was loo
Tippi Hedren in 1955
looking for an actress who had the same qualities as the actress Grace Kelly with whom he had made three films.
Tippi Hedren in 1956
After an expensive and very thorough screen test, he signed her up to a long-term contract and then gave her the role of Melanie Da
Tippi Hedren & Alfred Hitchcock
Daniels in his horror-suspense film The Birds (1962).
Film poster for The Birds
It was Hitchcock who always insisted that single commas we
Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels in The Birds
were always used round her name, which is why it is often shown as 'Tippi' Hedren. Tippi remembered
the location work for The Birds at Bogeda Bay in California, as being long and exhausting, while the studio work was at times frightening and dangerous, with prop men in protective clothing, throwing dozens of li
live seagulls and crows (their beaks held shut with elastic bands) at her during filming.
Suzanne Pleshette & Tippi Hedren in The Birds
The film won Tippi Hedren a Golden Globe award for 'Most Promising Newcomer'.
Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren & Jessica Tandy
in The Birds
Tippi Hedren has signed this photograph from The Birds to me
Tippi Hedren's second Hitchcock film was the psychological thriller Marnie (1964) co-starring Sean Connery. Tippi plays a thief, Marnie Edgar, who steals from her various bosses and then uses disguise to escape detection. The film was a failure at the box office, but since its release on dvd, its many qualities are being rediscovered.
Film poster for Marnie
Tippi Hedren grew tired of Hitchcock's control over her career and refused to work for him after Marnie. Hi
Hitchcock, in return, was vindictive and vowed to 'ruin her career'. Hitchcock eventually sold her contract to Universal, but by then Tippi's
Sean Connery & Tippi Hedren in Marnie
Tippi has a very distinctive autograph, which she usually completes with three flying birds!
Tippi's film career had stalled.
Between 1967 and 2006, Tippi Hedren made some 40 films. So
Some of the better ones were Charlie Chaplin's comedy A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) starring Marlon Brando & Sophia Loren; John Schlesinger's thriller Pacific Heights (1990); the comedy drama Citizen Ruth (1996) and the short independent thriller Tea with Grandma (2001).
Marlon Brando, Tippi Hedren, Sydney Chaplin & Sophia Loren in
A Countess from Hong Kong
Some of the less successful ones included Tiger by the Tail (1968), Satan's Harvest (1970) and Mister Kingstreet's War (1973) however they led to Tippi's love affair with wild animals. After
in Tea with Grandma
Tippi Hedren as Grandma Rae
Tippi Hedren in Citizen Ruth
At the end of shooting Mister Kingstreet's War, Tippi learnt that the bi
big cats used in the production then had nowhere to go. This led to her establishing an eighty acre wildlife habitat for retired big cats in a natural setting near Acton in California. It was called Shambala. In 1983, Tippi and her then husband, film
film producer Noel Marshall, founded the 'Roar Foundation' to support the big cats at Shambala. This followed their 11-year joint collaboration Roar (1981), a film based on their own reallifeeff
Tippi Hedren with one of her big cats
Over the past thirty years, Tippi Hedren has appeared frequently in TV roles - Shadow of a Doubt (1991), five episodes of Dream On (1994-96), Chicago Hope (1998) and ten episodes of Fashion House (2006). More recently, Tippi has co-starred with the late actress Brittany Murphy in the made-for-television movie Tribute (2009).
Ciaran Brown with actresses Susannah York & Tippi Hedren
In 1952, Tippi Hedren married actor and producer Peter Griffith and their daughter, actress Melanie Griffith (Oscar-nominated star of the film Working Girl) was born in 1957. After a divorce in 1961, Tippi married her then-agent Noel Marshall (who later produced three of her films) but that marri
Melanie Griffith & Tippi Hedren
at Autographica in May 2010
Tippi Hedren has appeared with her daughter Melanie Griffith in two films - Roar (1981) and Pacific Heights (1990).
marriage also ended in divorce in 1982. A third marriage to businessman Lu
Luis Barrenechea lasted for ten years. Since 2001 she has been married to vet Martin Dinnes.
Tippi Hedren has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, outside No. 7062 Hollywood Boulevard.
Tippi Hedren receives her star on
the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003
Daughter Melanie is on the right
Tippi interviewed for SCVTV's documentary
real-life efforts on behalf of the African wildlife preservation movement. Currently, Shambala is home to dozens of big cats, including lions, tigers, leopards, cougars and a liger! Most of them were born in captivity and given up by circuses, zoos and private owne
owners who could no longer care for the animal
animals. Tippi now lives at Shambala and continues to fund-raise on its behalf.