Caught by the jaunty throw of her head and white hair, Alfred Hitchcock signed Tippi Hedren on the strength of an NBC advert. Entrusting the untried actress with the female lead in 'The Birds' (1962), Hitchcock took a risk that fuelled gossip about his intentions towards the beautiful blonde. His instinct was sound; the thriller was a sensation, earning over $11,000,000 in the first few months and Tippi’s performance won her a Golden Globe.
Nathalie Kay Hedren was born in 1930 and her father who owned a small general store in Minnesota gave her the nickname 'Tippi' as her full name was too long for a baby. Using her Scandinavian charms, the girl from Minnesota worked as a New York fashion model, until she married Peter Griffith in 1952, and gave birth to her first daughter, Melanie Griffith, before the couple split.
She was noticed by the film director Alfred Hitchcock in an advert for a diet drink and she was given the lead in the hit 'The Birds' (1962) which helped catapult her to stardom. She signed a seven-year contract with the director.
She married her second husband, Noel Marshall, in 1964, the same year she shot her second film, 'Marnie', co-starring Sean Connery, which achieved cult status as a quirky psychological thriller.
Contracted to Hitchcock's home studio Universal, Tippi went on to make 'A Countess from Hong Kong' (1967), directed by Charlie Chaplin, and appeared in a succession of films over the next two decades. Hitchcock sold her contract to Universal after her career had stalled.
In 2011, she revealed that the director wanted to be in control of her both on and off screen as directors who wanted to work with Tippi had to ask Hitchcock's permission. She has also claimed that she refused his sexual advances leading to the stalling of her career.
Between her TV and film appearances, Tippi devoted herself to human rights, using her celebrity status to raise funds for several aid organisations. Also close to her heart are wild animals. In 'Roar' (1981), Tippi starred opposite her daughter, under the direction of her then-husband, Noel Marshall, in a drama relating the family's attempts to preserve African wildlife at the Shambala Preserve in California.
She also appeared with her daughter in the 1990 film 'Pacific Heights'. Her career has gone from strength to strength since then, with appearances in 'I Heart Huckabees' in 2004 and 'Strike the Tent' in 2005.
Tippi has also starred in several TV shows including 'The 4400' in 2006 and 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' in 2008. In 2012 she worked with the producers on 'The Girl' - a film about her relationship with Hitchcock, with Sienna Miller playing Tippi.
Tippi continues to live in a cottage in the park, so she can wake to the roaring din of sixty big cats.