The following article contains allegations of psychological trauma and abuse.
Alfred Hitchcock achieved iconic status through his horror films. For Dakota Johnson’s family, however, his real-life behavior was more chilling than anything else on screen.
Johnson comes from a long line of leading actresses. Not only her mother, Melanie Griffith, but also her maternal grandmother, Tippi Hedren, is a Hollywood legend. Known for her work in Hitchcock films such as The Birds and Marnie, Hedren has often been credited as the filmmaker’s muse. However, as Hedren herself revealed in her 2016 memoir, her dynamic has been murky. Hitchcock, she wrote, was “a man on whom I look back with admiration, gratitude, and utter disgust.” According to an excerpt from the New York Post, the filmmaker allegedly sexually harassed Hedren for years. Hedren also claimed that Hitchcock stalked her and rationed her interactions with other men. In addition to the psychological trauma she suffered, he also made repeated physical advances. When she fought back, he promised to destroy her career – and he stuck to it.
Heartbreakingly, Hedren explained that she didn’t speak up until decades later because, at the time, “sexual harassment and stalking were concepts that didn’t exist.” However, Hedren has claimed that while Hitchcock may have ruined her professionally, “I never gave him the power to ruin my life.” That didn’t stop him from trying, though.
Hitchcock tried to intimidate Tippi Hedren with the help of her family
Alfred Hitchcock reacted to Tippi Hedren’s cancellation with a reign of terror. According to her memoir (via New York Post), he used real birds to film the attack scene in “The Birds.” This increased the danger of the situation. “Not even the best trainer in the world could control every movement of an animal, especially when it is under stress.” To make matters worse, Hedren kept pushing after showing physical signs of stress, only giving her time off when a doctor declared that further trauma would “kill her.” It’s unclear if this was what prompted him to send a young Melanie Griffith a terrifying “gift.”
Speaking to Vanity Fair as her July 2022 cover star, Dakota Johnson revealed her mother was in shock one Christmas morning. Hitchcock had sent her a doll made in her mother’s likeness – in a coffin. “It’s alarming and grim,” said the ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ actor. What’s more, the whole ordeal was “really, really sad for this little girl.”
Thankfully, Hedren lived a long life. In fact, she celebrated her 92nd birthday in January. Even after everything she has been through, she has seen her daughter and granddaughter climb the ladder because she was prevented from doing so. If that’s not the mark of a true heroine, we don’t know what is.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, help is available to help. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact the RAINN National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).