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Tippi Hedren

 

Nathalie Kay "Tippi" Hedren (born January 19th, 1930) is an American actress and former fashion model with a career spanning six decades. She is primarily known for her roles in two Alfred Hitchcock films, The Birds and Marnie, and her extensive efforts in animal rescue at Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre (320,000 m2) wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983.

Hedren is the mother of actress Melanie Griffith, and they share credits on several productions, notably Pacific Heights (1990).

Early life

Hedren was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, the daughter of Dorothea Henrietta (née Eckhardt) and Bernard Carl Hedren. Her paternal grandparents were immigrants from Sweden, and her maternal ancestry was German and Norwegian.  Her father ran a small general store in the small town of Lafayette, Minnesota and gave her the nickname "Tippi." "My father thought Nathalie was a little bit much for a brand new baby," Hedren explained at a 2004 screening of The Birds.

As a teenager, Hedren took part in department store fashion shows. Her parents relocated to California while she was still a high school student. When she reached her 18th birthday, she bought a ticket to New York and began a professional modeling career. Within a year she made her film debut (minus dialogue) as a Petty Girl model in The Petty Girl (1950) musical comedy, although in interviews she refers to The Birds (1963) as her first film.

Career

Tippi had a successful modeling career in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing on covers of national magazines, such as Life magazine.  She was discovered by Hitchcock, who was watching The Today Show when he saw Tippi in a commercial for Sego, a diet drink. Hitchcock was looking for an actress who possessed something of the sophistication, self-assurance and cool-blonde sex appeal of Grace Kelly, with whom he had made three films. Tippi, expensively groomed and mentored by Hitchcock, appeared in his films The Birds and Marnie. At the time of the films' releases, she was criticized for being too passive in The Birds and too expressive in Marnie. It took several years before she received respect for her work in both films from American film critics.