'The Birds' star Tippi Hedren says Alfred Hitchcock 'ruined' her career: He had 'a dark side'

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When Alfred Hitchock first saw Nathalie Hedren in a 1961 commercial for a diet drink named Sego, he immediately felt the young model could be the next Grace Kelly.

The budding starlet, now known as Tippi Hedren, was offered a seven-year contract by the famous director. But despite making her film debut in 1963’s “The Birds,” her relationship with Hitchcock soured.

“I never wanted to be an actress,” the 91-year-old recently told Closer Weekly. “I was lucky he saw the commercial. He had a lot to do with shaping my career, and having him as my drama coach was perfect.”

Hedren claimed that Hitchcock became controlling as he groomed her to be a star. She described how despite being a celebrated “artist,” Hitchcock also had a “dark side that was really awful.”

Tippi Hedren starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds," based on the suspense thriller by Daphne du Maurier.
(Getty Images)

“Every time I’d be talking with a male member of the cast or crew, my next exchange with Hitchcock would be icy,” recalled the actress.

“If he was talking to a group of people on the other side of the soundstage, his eyes would be fixed on me,” she added.

According to the outlet, Hitchcock’s behavior toward Hedren worsened. He allegedly had Hedren followed, drove past her house and at one point lunged to kiss her in a limousine, causing her to flee.

After 1964’s “Marnie,” Hedren refused to work with Hitchcock again, the outlet shared. As punishment, he held her to their contract, which prevented her from working with anyone else for two years.

British director Alfred Hitchcock directs American actress Tippi Hedren while she sits in front of a typewriter on the set of his film "Marnie."
(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“He ruined my career, but he didn’t ruin my life,” said Hedren.

But Hedren kept going as a passionate animal rights advocate. In 1983, she founded the Roar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the Shambala Preserve in California.

According to Shambala’s website, the big cats were previously confiscated by authorities, such as California Fish and Game, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Humane Society of the U.S., from roadside zoos and private citizens. The animals are then provided proper nutritional, medical and emotional care as they live out “their lives with care, understanding and dignity.”

Tippi Hedren, who made her mark in "The Birds," said that "Marnie" was her last film with Alfred Hitchcock.
(Universal Studios/Getty Images)

In 2020, Hedren told Fox News her passion for helping exotic felines in need has kept her going, especially during tough times.

“I simply look out my windows… [and admire] the beauty of the Shambala Preserve,” she said at the time. “There is nothing quite as beautiful as the view from my dining room window of Mona — a magnificent Bengal tiger — walking across her compound.”

“We are unable to hold our regular tours here at the preserve,” Hedren explained. “This has caused a strain on us financially, as all these beautiful residents here must still eat and be cared for. I know how hard things are for everyone right now, but [we] would deeply appreciate any support.”

In 2017, Hedren released her memoir “Tippi,” where she detailed her rise to stardom. That year, she told Fox News that her complicated relationship with Hitchcock was “a sad situation.” He passed away in 1980 at age 80.

Tippi Hedren and her granddaughter Dakota Johnson arrive at the premiere of Amazon Studios’ "Suspiria" at ArcLight Cinerama Dome on Oct. 24, 2018, in Hollywood, California. 
(Steve Granitz/WireImage)

“There’s really nothing more to talk about,” she explained. “It was … a sad situation. It was a wonderful, wonderful time. I’d never done a film before and I was — I guess he saw a commercial that I did — and … he found out who I was, where I was. He then quickly put me under contract. And then to discover that I was going to be in a major motion picture was incredible. He and his wife Alma were my drama coaches. It was absolutely fabulous. And then he pulls that … card.”

“I wasn’t a young woman who fell off the vegetable truck,” she continued. “I was saddened that he did this, you know, that he decided to pull that card. I said, ‘I’m not interested in this. I’m not going to fall for this.’ He kept pursuing it and then I said, ‘I want to get out of the contract.’ He said, ‘Well, you can’t. You have your daughter to take care of, your parents are getting older.’ And I said, ‘You know, they would not want me to be doing something I am not interested in. I want to get out of the contract.’

“He said, ‘I’ll ruin your career.’ And he did. He kept me under contract and wouldn’t let me work. It was just one of those Hollywood nightmares … It was just so unnecessary. That’s what was so awful about this. It was just … just a sad situation. Just sad. But anyway — life goes on!”

Despite the setback she endured after working with Hitchcock, the star insisted she has “had an incredible life.”

Today Tippi Hedren is an animal rights advocate.
(Greg Doherty/Getty Images for WAV)

“I look back at my life and think how fortunate I am to have had the opportunities that have been presented to me,” she said. “My parents were really wonderful with my sister and me, and they taught us so much about life and how to hold our heads up high. If there is something that happens and we don’t like it, there’s a reason for that. You can tell if a situation isn’t good. So get out of it!”

“I think what I was really trying to get across is, if a door opens to you and you like what you see on the other side, walk through it,” she shared. “If you don’t like what you see on the other side of that door, slam it shut! I’ve walked through many of those doors and slammed a lot of them shut.”

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