Monday, October 17, 2011

Inspirational Icon Monday: Tippi Hedren

Three years ago I went to a 5 am sunrise Easter service at the Hollywood Bowl where Tippi Hedren spoke. After various choirs belted out hymns, it was surreal to have a Hitchcock heroine come out and say, “Jesus is risen.” After living here off and on for 10 years, however, I don’t know why anything in Hollywood would surprise me.

Although she is the mother of actress Melanie Griffith, had a very successful modeling career in the 1950’s and has had small roles in films since the 1960‘s, Hedren has always been best known for her role as the icy blond beauty Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror flick The Birds as well as the title character in his 1964 film Marnie. Despite landing these roles after Hitchcock saw her on a morning talk show commercial, their relationship mirrored the one of James Stewart as Scottie and Kim Novak as Judy in Vertigo (1958.) Hitchcock was so distraught about losing his muse Grace Kelly to Monacco, that he did all he could to turn Hedren into her. Just like Scottie tried making Judy into Madeleine in Vertigo, Hitchcock tried to make Hedren into Kelly. He had her hair swept back like Kelly and even costumed her in a very similar mint green suit eerily reminiscent of the one Kelly wore in Rear Window. Hitchcock’s obsession became so intense that Hedren wanted to leave the contract she signed with him and work with other directors…any other director. He didn’t allow the breach of contract, and as an added punishment wouldn’t put her in any of his other films. Ultimately Hitchcock destroyed her potential for star power since by the time her contract was over, so was her moment in the spotlight. Miss Hedren did go onto a life of devoted animal activism that had nothing to do with Hitchcock’s spooky swing at “life imitating art.”

Tippi with daughter Melanie Griffith.

Grace Kelly in 1954 wearing the very similar mint green suit worn later by Tippi Hedren.

My version of Tippi in The Birds: Green floral early 1960's pencil skirt and top set. I bought this at a vintage store in Venice Beach for $28 and have worn it for every professional interview I have ever needed to go on since I don't own a suit.

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