GIRLS ON HORROR (Oct. 21): Tippi Hedren

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BY AMBER KELLY-ANDERSON

Role in the horror community: Hitchcock blonde

Claim to fame: Hitchcock’s love of blondes is no secret–Janet Leigh, Kim Novak and Grace Kelly also made unforgettable turns in his films. Hedren, however, was perhaps THE Hitchcock blonde, in part due to his obsession with her. But director crush or no, Hedren’s breakout performances in The Birds and Marnie showed she had massive talent to back up her good looks.

Weapon of choice: Persistence and manipulation. Hedren characters Melanie and Marnie are women who get what they want. Melanie is a socialite who happens to be a survivor–her pursuit of Rod Taylor is only mildly interrupted by the bird attacks. As Marnie, she is smart, quick, and complicated–everything a strong female character should be, even if it means a little moral ambiguity.

Why she’s bloody brilliant: Her sultry voice and blonde hair might make her seem like a typical Hitchcock girl, but Hedren is so much more. Her relationship with the director was rocky at best–he put her through near torture filming The Birds and was possessive and demanding off-screen. But Hedren, like her characters, remained classy, yet tough, pushing through the troubled shoots–including one day in which Hitch sicked actual birds on her!–to turn in some of the most suspenseful performances of all time.

Hedren is very vocal about her strained relationship with Hitchcock these days, using the release of the HBO film The Girl, in which Sienna Miller played her, as a jumping off point for speaking about abusive relationships between male directors and actresses and rising above them. “I got over Hitchcock a long time ago because I wasn’t going to allow my life to be ruined because of it,” she explained in a 2012 interview with The Telegraph. “It was like I was in a mental prison, but now it has no effect on me. I did what I had to do to deal with it.”

Read more Girls on Horror posts.

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