Blonde actress/model Tippi Hedren lists the year of her birth as 1935, which means that she would have been 14 or 15 when she appeared fleetingly in her first film, The Petty Girl (1950). Hedren did not resurface on the movie scene again until 1963, when she was "discovered" by Alfred Hitchcock. The official story is that Hitchcock wanted to mold Hedren into a new Grace Kelly; rumors persist that his interest in the actress went way beyond professional, and that he made a few clumsy advances towards her on the set. Whatever the case, Hedren starred in Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964). She was criticized for being too impassive in the former film and too expressive in the latter, though it isn't fair to pick on her for the shortcomings of the script and direction. Hedren was under contract not to Hitchcock but to his home studio of Universal; thus, she was obliged to appear in a 1963 Kraft Suspense Theatre episode and in director Charlie Chaplin's A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), acquitting herself nicely in both instances. She curtailed her film appearances in the late 1960s when she married her second husband, Noel Marshall. The Marshalls then proceeded to pour 11 years' work (and $17 million!) into Roar (1981), a film based on their own real-life efforts on behalf of the African wildlife preservation movement. Even three decades after the fact, Hedren can't quite shake her earlier relationship with Alfred Hitchcock: she played a murder victim in the 1990 TV remake of Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, and starred in the made-for-cable The Birds II: Land's End (1994). Hedren remained active in small film and television roles throughout the 2000s, and appeared in the well-received documentaries The Elephant in the Living Room and Carol Channing: Larger Than Life in 2011. Hedren co-starred with Jess Weixler and Jesse Eisenberg in Free Samples (2012), an independent comedy following a cynical law-student whose brief stint driving an ice cream truck marks a very important transition in her life. Tippi Hedren is the mother of actress Melanie Griffith.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Her nickname Tippi, which was given to her by her father, means "sweetheart" in Swedish.
- Made her film debut in the 1950 comedy The Petty Girl.
- Modeled for the Eileen Ford Agency.
- Hitchcock allegedly discovered her in a diet-soda commercial he saw on Today.
- Began operating the Shambala Preserve—a sanctuary for big cats in Acton, CA—in the early 1970s. It's maintained by the Roar Foundation, a nonprofit organization she founded in 1983.
- Published the book The Cats of Shambala in 1985.
- Has participated in anniversaries honoring the thriller The Birds (1963), including a 2003 40th-anniversary celebration held in Bodega Bay, CA, where the film was set.
- In 2003, she coauthored and testified in Washington, D.C., for a bill that became the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which prohibits the interstate and foreign trade of exotic cats.
- Did influential work with female Vietnamese refugees, getting 20 of them invaluable training as manicurists in 1975. In 2011, she received the Vietnamese-American Matron Saint Award for these efforts.
- Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 2011.