Lee recently had a chance to attend an event featuring Tippi Hedren at the Redford Theater.
Hitchcock star Tippi Hedren brought some classic Hollywood glam to Detroit recently when she appeared at the Redford Theater to host the screenings of her films The Birds and Marnie. During the 3 day event, Ms. Hedren arrived an hour before each screening to sign autographs and take photos with fans before taking the stage for a Q & A session before the film.
Audiences were delighted as she shared her memories of Alfred Hitchcock. One story in particular involved a gold and pearl broach she was wearing in the shape of a flock of birds. After a three day screen test, Hitchcock presented Ms. Hedren with the broach as a gift of congratulations on earning the role of Melanie Daniels in The Birds. A famous model at the time, Ms. Hedren had previously only acted in a handful of commercials. To be sought after by the famous director was a life changing experience. When asked about the infamous scene where she is brutally attacked by birds, she explained the script gave “little detail of the scene”, and she was told repeatedly that mechanical birds would be used when shooting. When the day came, she arrived on set to find “dozens of crates full of live crows, gulls, and ravens”. The new film actress quickly learned that mechanical birds were never intended to be used. Leather gloved crew members tossed the birds in her face for five days, and the audience laughed when she said she could see Hitchcock “manically smiling” through the flutter of feathers and wings. Though she did not discuss the fifth day of shooting, it is widely known she eventually broke down during the laborious ordeal, and a physician ordered a weeks rest for the exhausted actress.
Ms. Hedren also spoke passionately about her non-profit organization, The Roar Foundation, which she created in 1983 to support the Shambala Preserve, an animal sanctuary which rescues big cats that were born and bred in the United States to be sold as pets or for financial gain. She also shared her feelings about the “disgusting” acts that lead to the murder of Cecil the Lion in Africa earlier this year, calling everyone involved “despicable liars”. She lightened her serious mood when she revealed that all the meat that the big cats eat at the Shambala Preserve attract large flocks of ravens. “They are constantly fluttering over my house, especially at feeding time,” she humorously said. She confessed she has no lingering side effects or fear of birds, and that she finds the animals beautiful. In 2014 she commissioned Harris Steel Fence (the same company who builds all Shambala's animal enclosures) to build a replica of the famous jungle gym used in The Birds. "I wanted a tribute to The Birds to exist on the Shambala Preserve because without that film, I would not be doing the work I’m doing today" she explained. The steel company donated the jungle gym to Shambala and even added a few fake ravens on top. A bench was placed near the structure, providing a great photo opp for visitors of the preserve.
The last question created an awkward moment when she was asked about her Granddaughter Dakota Johnson and her film Fifty Shades of Grey. Ms. Hedren confirmed she, nor her daughter Melanie Griffith have seen the film, nor do they have plans to. She reaffirmed the audience that she loves and supports her Granddaughter, but said she had no idea what she (Johnson) was thinking when she took the role. Before leaving she thanked Mayor Duggan for all the work he was doing for the city of Detroit, and said she noticed big differences in the city since her last visit in 2012. She also urged fans to write to the President of Africa to put an end to the country’s *canned gaming.
*Canned gaming involves animals that are bred and raised in captivity for the sole purpose of trophy hunting. When the animals are mature enough, hunters are invited (for a fee) inside the same compound to kill the captive/ cornered animal.
-Lee L. Lind
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