13. Alfred Hitchcock made Tippi Hedren a star while sexually harassing – and maybe assaulting – the actress
Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most powerful directors in Hollywood in 1963, having made a string of successful films and developed the reputation which he still holds as a master of suspense. Among the actresses with whom he had worked were Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Doris Day, Tallulah Bankhead, Eva Marie Sainte, and Joan Fontaine. In 1963 he offered a leading role in the film The Birds to Tippi Hedren, then a still relatively unknown actress in Hollywood. He would later offer her other roles, including the title role in his film Marnie, in which she appeared opposite Sean Connery. But during the filming of The Birds he began a pattern of behavior which would today be called stalking, including driving repeatedly by her house, often stopping to observe her arriving and departing. He also sent her food, after telling her on the set that she was losing weight. When she balked at his advances he threatened to end her career by blacklisting her among Hollywood directors.
According to Hedren, during the filming of Marnie, Hitchcock made overt sexual advances towards her which she rebuffed, including on the set, in his office, and in the back of a limousine. His response to her rejection was to threaten her career, and when the threats did not deliver the desired results, Hitchcock made good on them. Using his influence, he ensured that Hedren was blackballed after the completion of Marnie, and the actress was never again cast in a leading role in a motion picture. In fact, it was more than three years before she could find work as an actress in films at all. Hedren was not the only actress to reject the unwelcome attentions of the director – he had a noted penchant for blondes – and when Grace Kelly retired from acting to marry Prince Rainier, effectively escaping from Hitchcock as well, he took to calling her Princess Disgrace in public, as well as denigrating her acting ability. In fact, Hitchcock had first wanted to cast Kelly in the title role as Marnie, offering the role to Hedren only after Grace became Princess Grace of Monaco.