Tippi Hedren

Tippi Hedren


Also Known As
Nathalie Kay Hedren
Birth Place
New Ulm, Minnesota, USA
January 19, 1930


One of the quintessential cool blondes of Hollywood cinema in the 1960s, Tippi Hedren was the discovery of British filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and rose from relative obscurity to international fame on the strength of her lead roles in the "The Birds" (1963) and "Marine" (1964). After the end of her Universal contract in the early 1970s, Hedren traveled the world as a free agent and, while...

Family & Companions

Peter Griffith
Actor, realtor. Father of Melanie Griffith; died May 14, 2001 at age 67.
Noel Marshall
Director. Worked together on "Roar" (1981), an accident ridden production which took 11 years to make and cost $17 million.
Luis Barrenchea
Rancher. Third husband; together since c. 1985; Hedren filed for divorce in October 1991.


Various sources list Ms. Hedren's birth year as 1928, 1930, 1931 and 1935 and her birthplace as New Ulm or Lafayette, Minnesota.


One of the quintessential cool blondes of Hollywood cinema in the 1960s, Tippi Hedren was the discovery of British filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and rose from relative obscurity to international fame on the strength of her lead roles in the "The Birds" (1963) and "Marine" (1964). After the end of her Universal contract in the early 1970s, Hedren traveled the world as a free agent and, while on location for a film in Africa, became invested in the plight of exotic animals. Founding a wildlife preserve in Southern California in 1978, Hedren began channeling her salary into her habitat project and lobbying during her downtime for legislative reforms to benefit the living conditions of exotic animals in captivity. The mother of actress Melanie Griffith, Hedren overcame early professional disappointments to weather a diverse and purposeful career lasting more than half a century, continuing to work exhaustively into her ninth decade and enduring as an iconic example of classical beauty backed by a progressive social conscience.

Nathalie Kay Hedren was born on Jan. 19, 1930, in the German-Bohemian community of New Ulm, MN. Hedren's paternal grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Sweden and her father, Bernard Carl Hedren, ran a general store in the family's hometown of Lafayette. It was Carl Hedren who gave young Nathalie the nickname Tippi, a Swedish term of endearment meaning "little girl." At the age of 13, the green-eyed Hedren was chosen as a model for a local department store and she participated in fashion shows while attending Minneapolis West High School. In her junior year, her father's declining health prompted a family relocation to the warmer coastal climate of San Diego, CA. After graduating from Huntington Park High School, class of 1950, Hedren enrolled as an art major at Pasadena City College. She had a walk-on role in the Columbia musical "The Petty Girl" (1950), but was interested less in acting than in pursuing a career as a fashion model. In 1951, when she had achieved the age of consent, Hedren headed to New York City.

Despite being only 5'4" tall, Hedren was signed by the Eileen Ford Agency and her face appeared on the covers of such magazines as Glamour, Life, McCalls and The Saturday Evening Post. There were several offers of film work but none could match her $60 per-hour modeling fee or the opportunities for international travel. An early marriage to actor Peter Griffith produced a daughter, Melanie, in 1957. The couple divorced in 1961 and Hedren elected to take her daughter out of New York, preferring the more neighborly environment of California's San Fernando Valley. Renting a $500-a-month apartment in Sherman Oaks, Hedren turned to television commercials to support herself. It was her appearance in a TV spot for the diet drink Sego that caught the eye of film director Alfred Hitchcock. Preparing the suspense thriller "The Birds" (1963), Hitchcock was looking for a cool blonde in the Grace Kelly mold for his female lead. After meeting with Hitchcock, Hedren landed the part, beating out such candidates as Yvette Mimieux, Carol Lynley and Sandra Dee.

As was Hitchcock's wont with his prospective leading ladies, Hedren was run through a gamut of wardrobe fittings, cosmetic makeovers, camera tests and long lunches with the British-born filmmaker that occasionally segued into viewings of his favorite motion pictures. Hitchcock groomed Hedren by directing her in scenes from his earlier movies and shot a Technicolor screen test of her for "The Birds" with Martin Balsam, who had appeared in Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960). Invited to dine with Hitchcock and his wife Alma, along with producer Lew Wasserman, at the New York night spot Chasens, Hedren was presented with a bejeweled pin of three birds in flight - a token of affection from "Hitch" and a sign that she had been chosen to play Melanie Daniels, a fashionable magnet for avian aggression in "The Birds." In fact, scripting the film was then incomplete and Hedren's character was referred to only as "the Girl." Hitchcock renamed the character Melanie, after Hedren's then four-year-old daughter.

Hedren's inexperience in front of the camera was a concern for several of the hands crafting "The Birds" - particularly screenwriter Even Hunter, who voiced his doubts to Hitchcock. The director stuck by his discovery, inviting her to sit in on production meetings rarely attended by actors. Hand-picking her wardrobe and accessories and overseeing her styling, Hitchcock introduced the character of Melanie Daniels into "The Birds" in a direct nod to the diet drink commercial in which he had discovered her, coolly reacting to a man's wolf whistle as she crosses a busy urban thoroughfare. Though the production - Hitchcock's costliest to date - was rife with technical snafus, Hedren sailed through location photography with ease; it was during interior shoots at Universal that things took a turn for the worse. For a climactic scene in which Melanie falls prey to a bird attack, Hitchcock used live specimens. Shot over the course of a week, the scene was a traumatic experience for Hedren, who was pecked at repeatedly and nearly blinded, resulting in an on-set emotional breakdown.

Hitchcock's follow-up film, "Marnie" (1964), had been conceived as a comeback vehicle for Grace Kelly, who had retired from acting after her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco. When Kelly withdrew from the project, Hitchcock offered the role to Hedren. For this nervy adaptation of the novel by Winston Graham, Hedren was paired with Sean Connery, then on a break from his duties as super-spy James Bond. Having attained a higher level of self-confidence during the shooting of "The Birds" and after being feted at publicity jaunts at home and overseas, Hedren began to bristle at Hitchcock's micromanagement during the shooting of "Marnie." When Hedren announced her engagement to her agent, Noel Marshall, Hitchcock reacted with anger and resentment, fearing he would lose another protégé to marriage and home life. When Hitchcock refused to grant his leading lady a furlough from shooting so that she could accept an award in New York, Hedren flew into a rage, verbally abusing Hitchcock in front of the crew, and closing principal photography on an unfortunately acrimonious note.

The bad blood between Hedren and Hitchcock delayed her work in subsequent films. The actress claimed in interviews that French filmmaker Francois Truffaut had wanted her for a project but that Hitchcock maintained she was unavailable; Hitch would never again employ Hedren in a film, although he continued to pay her a weekly salary of $500 until he sold her contract to Universal. In 1965, Hedren's professional ties to Alfred Hitchcock were severed and she appeared in an episode of "Run for Your Life" (NBC, 1965-68) with Ben Gazzara and on the anthology series "Kraft Suspense Theatre" (NBC, 1963-65) with Jeffrey Hunter. At the end of that year, she flew to London to play the other woman in Charlie Chaplin's comic romance "A Countess from Hong Kong" (1967), opposite Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. During filming, Hedren enjoyed a reconciliatory tea with Alfred and Alma Hitchcock, but their master-pupil relationship was irrevocably shattered and Hedren continued her career as a rootless free agent.

Her time as an A-list Hollywood actress limited to only a couple of years in the mid-1960s, Hedren dove into a long run of rent-paying work through the next several decades. She traveled to Africa for a role in the anti-drug film "Satan's Harvest" (1970) opposite aging Hollywood leading man George Montgomery and appeared with daughter Melanie in "The Harrad Experiment" (1973), executive produced by husband Noel Marshall. While making the game preserve drama "Mr. Kingstreet's War" (1973) in Africa, Hedren became concerned with the plight of the exotic cats used in filming, prompting her to establish a wildlife habitat in Acton, CA in 1978. Hedren named the preserve Shambala, a Sanskrit word referring to a meeting place of peace and harmony for all creatures, and dedicated its foundation to preserving the life and lifestyle of exotic felines while discouraging private ownership of wild animals. In later years, Hedren would co-author the Captive Wildlife Safety Act and the Federal Ban on Breeding Exotic Cats for Personal Possession Act.

In 1981, Hedren's personal project "Roar" was completed at a final cost of a then-unheard of $17 million. Inspired by both "The Birds" and "Born Free" (1966) and shot over a period of 11 years, the film was directed by Marshall and featured both Hedren and daughter Melanie in lead roles, supported by Marshall and his two sons from a previous marriage. Financed in part by the sale of the family's Beverly Hills home and Marshall's profits as a producer of "The Exorcist" (1973), filming was beset by numerous calamities, including a 1978 flood that destroyed a large portion of the location and resulted in the death of several lions, a 1979 brush fire, and the on-camera mauling of several cast and crew members, including Hedren, Griffith, Hedren's stepson John Marshall, assistant director Doron Kauper and cinematographer Jan de Bont, whose injuries required 120 stitches to close. Hedren also suffered a fractured leg when an elephant she was riding in the film threw her to the ground. "Roar" made back only a fraction of its cost and Hedren and Marshall were divorced in 1982.

In 1985, Hedren appeared in the pilot episode of the rebooted "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (NBC, 1985-89) and acted opposite her now movie star daughter in the San Francisco-set thriller "Pacific Heights" (1990). She participated in a made-for-television remake of Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" in 1991 and turned up in the ill-advised TV sequel "The Birds II: Land's End" (1994), in a role unrelated to the one she created in Hitchcock's original. One of Hedren's better later-life performances was as a chic pro-choice activist in Alexander Payne's abortion satire "Citizen Ruth" (1996) and indie filmmaker David O. Russell made a place for her in the star-studded ensemble of "I Heart Huckabees" (2004). In 2002, Hedren received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was also the recipient of a host of international awards for her humanitarian efforts, including a Founder's Award from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a Jules Verne Nature Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Humane Society of the United States. Based on her Shambala Preserve and committed to supporting the 70 exotic animals entrusted to her care, Hedren continued to work exhaustively on screens large and small well after her 80th birthday and to make public appearances commemorating her better-known films.

By Richard Harland Smith



Cast (Feature Film)

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (2011)
Nora Roberts' Tribute (2009)
The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams (2007)
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story (1999)
Replacing Dad (1999)
I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998)
Mulligans (1998)
Citizen Ruth (1996)
Mind Lies (1995)
The Birds II: Land's End (1994)
Helen Matthews
Treacherous Beauties (1994)
Lettie Hollister
Teresa's Tattoo (1994)
Perry Mason: Case of the Skin Deep Scandal (1993)
Inevitable Grace (1993)
Dr Marcia Stevens
Through the Eyes of a Killer (1992)
Renata Bellano
In the Cold of the Night (1991)
Shadow of a Doubt (1991)
Teresa Mathewson
Pacific Heights (1990)
Return to Green Acres (1990)
Deadly Spygames (1989)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)
Roar (1981)
The Harrad Experiment (1973)
Margaret Tenhausen
Tiger by the Tail (1970)
Rita Armstrong
A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)
Marnie (1964)
Marnie Edgar
The Birds (1963)
Melanie Daniels
The Petty Girl (1950)
Ice box, Petty girl

Producer (Feature Film)

Roar (1981)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (2011)

Cast (Special)

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills (2001)
Intimate Portrait: Tippi Hedren (2001)
The 2001 Genesis Awards (2001)
14th Annual Genesis Awards (2000)
Intimate Portrait: Betty White (2000)
Thirteenth Annual Genesis Awards (1999)
Dial H For Hitchcock: The Genius Behind the Showman (1999)
Life With Big Cats: Tippi Hedren and Shambala (1998)
Ninth Annual Genesis Awards (1995)
The Horror Hall of Fame II (1991)
Superstars And Their Moms (1989)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Darklings (1999)
The Break Up (1999)

Life Events


First film appearance (bit), "The Petty Girl"


Film acting debut, "The Birds"


TV acting debut in anthology series, "Kraft Suspense Theater"


Debut in recurring role on TV sitcom, "The Courtship of Eddie's Father"


Founded the Shambala Preserve in the Antelope Valley (north of Los Angeles), primarily for retired animal actors


Acted opposite daughter Melanie Griffith in "Roar"


TV-movie debut, "Return to Green Acres"


Played recurring role on the short-lived UPN series "The Strip"


Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame


Featured in the off beat comedy "I Heart Huckabees" starring Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin and Mark Wahlberg


Landed a recurring role on the TV series "Fashion House"


Appeared in the film "Free Samples"


Landed a role in the thriller "The Ghost and the Whale"

Photo Collections

The Birds - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Birds - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release American movie posters from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), starring Tippi Hedren.


Movie Clip

Marnie (1964) -- (Movie Clip) Instinctual Behavior Bachelor millionaire publisher Rutland (Sean Connery) and new secretary "Mrs. Taylor" (Tippi Hedren, the probably-deranged title character) review a typing assignment as her fear of thunder, lightning and colors comes to the fore in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie, 1964.
Birds, The (1963) -- (Movie Clip) Love Birds San Francisco's Union Square, Tippi Hedren strolls into the pet shop (instigating the director's cameo), client of nutty Mrs. MacGruder (Ruth McDevitt), then approached by customer Mitch (Rod Taylor), all very routine so far, opening Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, 1963.
Birds, The (1963) -- (Movie Clip) Lost His Way In The Dark Stuck in Bodega Bay for the evening, San Francisco socialite Melanie (Tippi Hedren) engaged with local Annie (Suzanne Pleshette) in intense chat about Mitch, who interests them both, all of which is one big "MacGuffin" from director Alfred Hitchcock, in The Birds, 1963.
Marnie (1964) -- (Movie Clip) Marion Holland Margaret "Marnie" Edgar (Tippi Hedren), whom we've just met, evidently disposes of an identity, as her director (Alfred Hitchcock) makes his cameo appearance in a hotel corridor, in an early scene from Marnie, 1964.
Marnie (1964) -- (Movie Clip) Too Blonde Hair Marnie (Tippi Hedren), whose sinister behavior is so far only partially revealed, visits mom Bernice (Louise Latham) and is disappointed to find her doting on her young rival Jessie (Kimberly Beck), in an early scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie, 1964.
Marnie (1964) -- (Movie Clip) Your Real Name Suspicious millionaire Rutland (Sean Connery) catches up with fugitive ex-employee Marnie (Tippi Hedren) as she rides her beloved horse, and follows with interrogation, in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie, 1964.
Roar (1981) -- (Movie Clip) The Old Cat And Mouse Game Quick exposition as Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith and John and Jerry Marshall, the family of Noel Marshall (Hedren’s husband, also the director), a big-cat researcher in Africa, arrive unexpected, while he works with his aide Kyalo Mativo, early in Roar, 1981.
Roar (1981) -- (Movie Clip) We're Not Gonna Get Eaten The main premise taking shape, as the American family (Tippi Hedren, her daughter Melanie Griffith, John and Jerry Marshall) of African big-cat researcher Noel Marshall (the director, Mr. Hedren and the boys’ father) have arrived at his cat-dominated house when he isn’t home, in Roar, 1981.
Birds, The (1963) -- (Movie Clip) That Makes Three Times Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) have just finished another impertinent chat on the hillside when, returning to the birthday party, the first all-out assault begins, Annie (Suzanne Pleshette) helping save the kids, in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, 1963.
Birds, The (1963) -- (Movie Clip) That Man's Lighting A Cigar! Mitch (Rod Taylor) is failing to get citizens at the diner to unite in action when another bird attacks across the street at the gas station, director Alfred Hitchcock playing with sound and fire, Melanie (Tippi Hedren) nearly victimized, a famous sequence from The Birds, 1963.




Dorothea Hedren
Died on October 31, 1994.
Melanie Griffith


Peter Griffith
Actor, realtor. Father of Melanie Griffith; died May 14, 2001 at age 67.
Noel Marshall
Director. Worked together on "Roar" (1981), an accident ridden production which took 11 years to make and cost $17 million.
Luis Barrenchea
Rancher. Third husband; together since c. 1985; Hedren filed for divorce in October 1991.



Various sources list Ms. Hedren's birth year as 1928, 1930, 1931 and 1935 and her birthplace as New Ulm or Lafayette, Minnesota.