How Hitchcock destroyed Tippi

A MEMOIR

Tippi: A Memoir by Tippi Hedren, William Morrow, US $28.99, Pp 288, November 2016, ISBN 978-0062469038

She was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s wives, Hitchcock was one of her husbands. She was born on January 19, 1930, in Lafayette, Minnesota. Her parents named her Nathalie Kay but from the very beginning her father called her Tippi, a nickname for the Swedish word ‘tupsa,’ which means little girl or little sweetheart. In Tippi, Tippi Hedren says, “It made me feel very special when he called me Tippi, and I chose it over Nathalie as my first name as soon as I was old enough to talk.” She made more than eighty films and many TV shows. Many people have told her story. Now she tells her own story in Tippi.

Tippi writes, “Since the early 1960s when she starred in The Birds and Marnie for Alfred Hitchcock, a man I look back on with admiration, gratitude, and utter disgust. Despite his efforts to thwart my career, I went on to act in more than eighty films and television shows. I have been a wife, three times. I am a mother and a grandmother. I have been a model and an animal rights activist and a humanitarian. I have a lot to say.” About her relationship with Hitchcock, she writes that their bizarre relationship finally detonated so completely that there was no coming back. It started when she was honored with photoplay’s ‘most promising actress of the year’ award. They wanted to present it on a Friday night on Johny Carson’s ‘Tonight Show,’ which was filmed in New York in 1964. There was no reason other than meanness and control for Hitchcock to refuse to let her take that trip, but that is what he did. Not only did he refuse, but he picked up the phone, supposedly on her behalf, to decline the award and cancel her Tonight Show appearance.

Tipi says Hitchcock did everything in his power to keep his promise to ruin her career. In many ways, he succeeded. She went on to make fifty films after ‘Marnie’ as well as episodes of TV series. But she was never offered another role as deep and challenging as the two she did for him, the two he chose her for out of nowhere and exhaustively prepared me for, before punishing me when, in his eyes, she paid him the ultimate insult of rejecting him.  Shortly after Marnie ended, in 1964, she married her second husband, Noel Marshall. Marshall was her agent and manager.

Tippi is as much about the author as her famed ex-husband, Hitchcock as well as the world of cinema. This is the first time Tippi tells her side of the story. No matter how much you think you know about Tippi, Hitchcock and Hollywood, you will learn something new about all of them. It is beautifully written like a novel. Reviewed by Jonathan T. Rich