Brow Beat

Tippi Hedren Writes About Sexual Assault by Alfred Hitchcock in New Memoir

Tippi Hedren at a 2012 screening of The Birds.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Actress Tippi Hedren’s new memoir, Tippi, contains her account of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of director Alfred Hitchcock, the New York Post reports. Hedren, now 86, who starred in Hitchcock’s The Birds and Marnie, writes in her memoir about his unhealthy obsession with her.

According to Hedren, after casting her in The Birds, Hitchcock socially isolated her from the cast, used his driver to stalk her, asked for sexual favors, and tried to force an unwanted kiss in the back of his limo. When Hedren refused, he began a program of psychological torture on set, culminating in the filming of a bird attack in which live birds were thrown at her face for five days in a row, leading to a breakdown. During the filming of Marnie, Hedren writes that he assaulted her in her dressing room: “It was sexual, it was perverse. The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became.” After the film, Hitchcock refused to release Hedren from her five-year contract, neither casting her in new films nor allowing her to work elsewhere, and her career fizzled. But, as Hedren writes, “while Hitchcock may have ruined my career, I never gave him the power to ruin my life.”

None of this is news, exactly: Donald Spoto wrote about Hitchcock’s harassment of Hedren more than 30 years ago; Hedren told him about the sexual assaults for 2008’s Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies. The later book was the basis of the 2012 HBO film The Girl, and Hedren gave interviews and spoke publicly about her ordeal when the film was released. But her memoir marks the first time she’s written about the experience herself. The book will be published on Tuesday.