Tippi Hedren: Big Cat Lady, 'Birds' Star And Melanie Griffith's Mom, Then And Now

By | January 19, 2021

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Left: Tippi Hedren in a publicity photo for 'The Birds.' Right: Hedren in the kitchen of her home in Acton, California in 1994. Tippi was on the phone as a tiger named Zoe jumped through the kitchen window. Sources: IMDB; Eddie Sanderson/Getty Images

With The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964), Tippi Hedren succeeded as a model-turned-actress and an Alfred Hitchcock muse. But her days as a movie idol were short -- after her second Hitchcock film, she retreated from the spotlight, and though she came back to acting, she never again starred in a major Hollywood movie.

Hedren, now in her 90s, has lived a full and colorful life, and her acting career lived on, in a way, with the success of her daughter Melanie Griffith and granddaughter Dakota Johnson. Hedren's greatest passion has been animals, specifically big cats, with which she has lived for years -- though she no longer lets them in the house as she did when Melanie was a kid. 

Hedren Began Modeling As A Teenager

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Natalie Kay Hedren was born on January 19th, 1930 in New Ulm, Minnesota, and moved with her family to San Diego, California as a teenager. Her father Bernard Carl called his newborn baby “Tippi,” the Swedish term for “little girl” and she kept the nickname for her entire life. Her exquisitely beautiful appearance led to multiple modeling opportunities in high school as she participated in fashion shows and appeared in local advertisements. After graduating, she moved to New York City and signed as a model for Eileen Ford Agency and was featured on the covers of the top fashion magazines of the day including Glamour, McCall’s, and Life. She married actor Peter Griffith in 1952, but they divorced nine years later and she moved to Los Angeles with their daughter, future actress Melanie Griffith.