Nathalie Kay "Tippi" Hedren (born January 19, 1930) is an American actress, animal rights activist, and former fashion model.
A successful fashion model who appeared on the front covers of Life and Glamour magazines, among others, Hedren became an actress after she was discovered by director Alfred Hitchcock while appearing on a television commercial in 1961.
She received world recognition for her work in two of his films: the suspense-thriller The Birds (1963), for which she won a Golden Globe, and the psychological drama Marnie (1964). She has appeared in over 80 films and television shows, including Charlie Chaplin's final film A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).
Among other honors, her contributions to world cinema have been recognized with the Jules Verne Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hedren's strong commitment to animal rescue began in 1969 while she was shooting two films in Africa and was introduced to the plight of African lions.
She started her own nonprofit organization, the Roar Foundation, in 1983; it supports the Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre (32 ha) wildlife habitat that enables her to continue her work in the care and preservation of lions and tigers.
Nathalie Kay Hedren was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, on January 19, 1930. Her paternal grandparents were Swedish immigrants, while her mother was of German and Norwegian descent.
As a teenager, she took part in department store fashion shows.
On reaching her 20th birthday, Hedren bought a ticket to New York City, where she joined the Eileen Ford Agency. Within a year, she made her unofficial film debut as "Miss Ice Box" in the musical comedy The Petty Girl.
Although she received several film offers during that time, Hedren had no interest in acting, as she knew it was very difficult to succeed. She had a highly successful modeling career during the 1950s and early 1960s, appearing on the covers of Life, The Saturday Evening Post, McCall's, and Glamour, among others.
In 1961, after seven years of marriage to the actor Peter Griffith, Hedren divorced and returned to California with her daughter, Melanie Griffith.
That same year, director Alfred Hitchcock, saw her in a commercial for a diet drink called Sego, while watching The Today Show, and persuaded her to sign a seven-year contract.
According to Hitchcock: "I was not primarily concerned with how she looked in person. Most important was her appearance on the screen, and I liked that immediately. She has a touch of that high-style, lady-like quality which was once well-represented in films by actresses like Irene Dunne, Grace Kelly, Claudette Colbert, and others, but which is now quite rare."
Hitchcock was impressed with Hedren, he not only asked costume designer Edith Head to design clothes for Hedren's private life, and personally advised her about wine and food, but also asked her to play the leading role in his upcoming film The Birds.
Hitchcock became her drama coach, and gave her an education in film-making, as she attended many of the production meetings such as script, music, or photography conferences.
While promoting The Birds, Hitchcock was full of praise for his new protégée, and compared her to Grace Kelly.
Hedren received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year, and her role as Melanie Daniels in The Birds was named by Premiere as one of the greatest movie characters of all time.
Hitchcock was so impressed with Hedren's acting abilities, he decided to offer her the leading role of his next film, Marnie (1964), a romantic drama and psychological thriller from the novel by Winston Graham, during the filming of The Birds. Hedren voiced doubts about her ability to play the demanding role, but Hitchcock assured her she could do it. As opposed to The Birds, where she had received little acting guidance, for this film Hedren studied every scene with Hitchcock.
Hedren recalled Marnie as her favorite of the two films she did with Hitchcock for the challenge of playing an emotionally battered young woman who travels from city to city assuming various guises to rob her employers. Despite its original lukewarm reception, the film was later acclaimed and described as a "masterpiece" and Hedren's performance is now regarded as one of the finest in any Hitchcock film.
Marnie was the second and last collaboration between Hedren and Hitchcock.
During the filming of Marnie, Hedren found Hitchcock's behavior toward her increasingly difficult to bear as filming progressed. Hedren told him Marnie would be their last film together and later recalled how Hitchcock told her he would destroy her career.
Hedren's contract terms gave Hitchcock the final say as to any work she could take on and he used that power to turn down several film roles on her behalf. In 1966, Hitchcock finally sold her contract to Universal Studios who ultimately released her from her contract.
In 1983, author Donald Spoto published his second book about Hitchcock, The Dark Side of a Genius, for which Hedren agreed to talk for the first time in detail about her relationship with the director. For years after its release, Hedren was not keen to talk about it in interviews, but thought the chapter devoted to her story was "accurate as to just what he was".
In Spoto's third book about Hitchcock, Spellbound by Beauty (2008), Hedren revealed that Hitchcock actually made offensive demands on her.
Hedren's first feature film appearance after Marnie was in A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren, but her part was little more than a cameo, and after that, although she appeared in various films and tv series, Tippi Hedren never again played any leading role in any major film, except Roar, a film about a family's misadventures in a research park filled with lions, tigers, and other wild cats, played by Tippi Hedren and her family, including her daughter Melanie, her then husband Noel Marshall(who also wrote the script), and his own sons.
The film took many years to make and left Hedren and her family members wounded to different degrees during filming. When it was finally released in 1981, it cost $17 million and grossed only $2 million, but it was a turning point in Hedren's life. In 1983, she established the nonprofit The Roar Foundation to take care of the big cats.
After Roar, Hedren accepted any low-budget television or cinema role that could help bring funds to her foundation to provide protection, shelter, care, and maintenance for the animals at the Shambala Preserve.
As of 2020, Hedren still maintains more than a dozen lions and tigers; her granddaughter Dakota Johnson is involved in their care.
In 2006, a Louis Vuitton ad campaign paid tribute to Hedren and Hitchcock with a modern-day interpretation of the deserted railway station opening sequence of Marnie.
In 2012, her look from The Birds (1963) inspired designer Bill Gaytten to design for John Galliano Pre-Fall 2012 collection.
In 2016, Tippi Hedren published her autobiography, Tippi: A Memoir, co-written with Lindsay Harrison.
In 2018, at age 88, Hedren became the new face of Gucci's timepieces and jewelry and starred as a mysterious fortune teller in the brand's commercial ad, The Fortune Teller.