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When it came to actresses, the late filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock had a type. Blonde. Icy. Gorgeous and stately, but accessible. Grace Kelly epitomized the on-screen Hitchcock femme fatale, though it's off-screen allegations from one of his frequent collaborators that has the director's name back in the headlines these days, for disturbing reasons.
Tippi Hedren made two thrillers with Alfred Hitchcock: the famous The Birds (1963) and its less notorious follow-up, Marnie (1964). Now, in an upcoming memoir titled Tippi, the actress once again is accusing Hitchcock of sexual assault, in excerpts that have been acquired by the New York Post. In the stories, Hedren discusses how protective the director would get of his actress, and how their relationship escalated to very uncomfortable situations when the director would get perverse. Hedren claims that Hitchcock once threw himself on her in the back of his limo. The worst accusation, Hedren now writes, occurred in her dressing room on the set of Marnie, where she elaborates:
[Hitchcock] put his hands on me. It was sexual, it was perverse. The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became.
This is not the first time that Tippi Hedren has spoken out about the alleged treatment by Alfred Hitchcock on the set of the two movies that they made together. In a 2012 interview with the BBC, Hedren says that the working conditions on Hitch's sets were the equivalent of being in "a mental prison," and she went on to say that the director ruined her professional acting career in the years following her work on The Birds and Marnie, though she successfully acted in more than 50 film and TV projects following Marnie, proving that Hitchcock's influence couldn't completely destroy her image.
In that BBC interview, Tippi Hedren addresses the concept of Alfred Hitchcock's long-time spouse, Alma, who reportedly acknowledged the situation at the time. Hedren explained:
Alma was an enigma to everyone. Nobody could understand what their relationship was. At one point she came up to me and said, 'Tippi, I'm so sorry you have to go through this.' I looked at her and said, 'But you could stop it,' and she just kind of glazed over and walked away. But it was nothing new in Hollywood in those days. There were no laws against it then, but if it had happened now, I'd be a very rich woman because of sexual harassment laws.
The culture of on-set behavior has changed, drastically. What you say and do lingers now, where more was swept under a proverbial rug in the past. Even in the political forum, accounts of past indiscretions can affect a presidential campaign, or get an entertainment reporter like NBC's Billy Bush fired.
These allegations have swirled around Alfred Hitchcock's name for years following his death, and Hedren bringing them up again in her forthcoming memoir will only add heat to the conversation about whether or not these accusation will tarnish the director's reputation. There are filmmakers with horrific transgressions on their personal ledger, from Woody Allen to Roman Polanski. How do you feel about Tippi Hedren's continued claims? How do you feel about Alfred Hitchcock in light of these ongoing accusations?