This Much I Know: Tippi Hedren

By Sarah Daniell

Tippi Hedren, 86, star of The Birds, animal activist, Hollywood legend.
Actress Tippi Hedren. Photo / Getty Images
Actress Tippi Hedren. Photo / Getty Images

I did get the chance to tell Alfred Hitchcock how I felt. I did. And then I left. I walked out. It felt good. Wonderful. I don't think many people had stood up to him. I was at the end of the studio system. It was practically on its way out by the time I was selected. But I have never acquiesced to people's demands if I wasn't interested.

I was always that way. I think it comes from a very strict Lutheran upbringing. My parents were very good with my sister and me and teaching us morals. The difference between good and bad. They were wonderful. My father was Swedish, my mother Norwegian and German. So put those together with me and you have a very strong-willed person.

I don't know if I was the same with Melanie [Griffiths].You'd have to ask her. I tried. I'm not going to speak for my daughter - she has a good loud voice. She probably got that from me, too.

Sure there's greater power for women in films now. It is a good thing. At last.
Love is a very big word. It can be misconstrued. It's a matter of respect and caring. Understanding. Patience. Many things. Love is a very big word.

I was born in the height of the Depression in 1930. It was bleak. My father owned a store in Minnesota and it was one of those stores that had everything in it. Pretty soon after the Depression really hit, his customers would say, "Could I sign for this today?" They would sign a piece of paper that they owed so much money.

You allow a lot of people to do that and all of a sudden you're broke. The store went under. It was a really a pretty tough time for my parents. But they never ever let my sister and me be affected by their troubles. We were never aware of all that. I look back at it now and I don't remember a lot of sadness or grief or wringing of hands. They were amazing.

Tippi Hedren attends a meet and greet at the 2016 Tet Festival. Photo / Getty Images
Tippi Hedren attends a meet and greet at the 2016 Tet Festival. Photo / Getty Images


I don't think of myself as being old. I guess I am. I'm 86. I'm still very active and I'm still working. I'm doing things every day. I go out at night. I'm busy. Just going to dinner. Like everybody else.

People still recognise me, which is nice, because I still resemble Tippi Hedren.

It just makes me so mad I'm only 5ft 1 [1.6m]. I started modelling when I was a teenager.

I always wished I was taller. I still wish was taller. In my mind I'm 5ft 8. It never stopped me. Even when I'm talking with people - if I'm standing next to a man who is 6ft 2, I feel like I'm on eye-level with him. There's something very wrong with me.

A sense of humour is very important if you're going to live a long time. Don't take yourself too seriously - that could be the end of you, you know.

I don't sit around. I don't know how to handle feeling tired, except take a nap. It's a wonderful thing. I just started this year. I just discovered napping. I don't sit around. I've never done that.

If I were elsewhere I'd love to be on "Paradiso Island". I would go to the exact opposite of what I have here. I think I've practically travelled everywhere I wanted to. I went around the world when I was young. I was 23 years old. All by myself. I guess it was gutsy, but I think it was probably safer back then. It gave eeling of greater assurance of myself, I'm able to take care of myself. It isn't actually easier to travel now. Going through the airports now is horrible. Any time I even have to think about taking a trip I think , oh no, I have to go to the airport. I'm glad I travelled when I could.

I wish I could just stand on a spot and say, "I want to be in Paris in 10 minutes. I have to be in Paris in 10 minutes. Zoom me there." That's what I want. You probably think this is not possible but I think in the future we may be able to do that.

I would travel into the future. Because we know all about what's already happened. I don't find any of that terribly attractive. I like modern, I really do.

I do not have all the answers - yet. I'm only 86, so there's time.

I've never been arrested. I work in animal activism and I've been very overt about how I feel about the treatment of animals. I haven't been silent. But I haven't had anyone arrest me. I've either been lucky or I haven't given anybody any cause to arrest me. Yet.

I named my five kittens after my leading men: Sean Connery, Marlon, Brando, John Saxon, Antonio Banderas - oh, and and Melanie Griffiths.

Marlon Brando was very aloof.He didn't like the way Charlie Chaplin directed and I loved watching Charlie direct. His method of directing was acting out all the roles and then saying, "All right, you do that." Marlon handling that one with his method acting - that was very interesting. He wanted to quit the film [A Countess from Hong Kong, 1967] but of course he was under contract, so he couldn't. He was a very complex man. He thought it would be delightful if we had an affair while this was going on and I said, "I don't think so." What a silly I girl am I, oh God.

I have a new little room-mate, a new cat. He just walked in one day and said, I'm going to live here with you. He is the smartest cat there ever was. This little guy came around the corner to my door and said, I'm gonna live here now, and I said, "Come on in, Johnny Depp."

- Canvas

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