Tippi Hedren and waxwork Alfred Hitchcock
Tippi Hedren and waxwork Alfred Hitchcock

Madame Tussauds, Hollywood, re-opens on August 1, 2009, in its new home, next to the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The all-new $55 million attraction, build from the ground up, will take guests on a unique, immersive and emotionally-charged journey interacting with their favorite celebrities, spread over three floors and 18 themed zones, allowing them to step into elaborate sets that create a memorable experience.

Leading up to the grand opening, Madame Tussauds is hosting several events, including having film veteran Tippi Hedren unveil a new wax figure of Alfred Hitchcock in the courtyard of Graumen’s Chinese Theatre. Hedren, who starred in two Hitchcock movies, The Birds and Marnie, did double duty, also being on the panel that would judge the ‘Scream Test,’ where participants had an opportunity to have his/her scream immortalized in the Madame Tussauds attraction.

Vying for attention just a few steps away from the event, was Michael Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was filled to overflowing with photos, notes of love and stuffed animals.

After the unveiling of ‘Mr Hitchcock’ and the ‘screaming’ I got to speak with Tippi Hedren about Alfred Hitchcock and her Shambala Preserve, which houses some 70 animals, including lions, tigers, leopards, mountain lions and bobcats.

You were a part of the panel judging the screamers, what were you looking for?

We were kind of looking for the screams that were bloodcurdling, and we found several, and the last one was really good, it was like she was really frightened, it wasn’t just a scream. When I was doing Marnie, I was supposed to scream and that can be very, very hard on your throat, and Hitchcock wouldn’t let me do it, they had a screamer, because there are those people who make a profession out of screaming. I hope all these kids are going to be okay. Screaming can really hurt you.

Can you talk about working with Alfred Hitchcock?

I was so lucky to have Alfred Hitchcock as not only my director but he was my drama coach, because The Birds was my first film. I had had a lot of experience with commercials, so I had a technical background, but becoming a character, somebody else, is a whole other thing and he guided me so beautifully that I still use all of the techniques that he gave me. I was very fortunate.

Were you pleased with the replica?

The replica is almost frightening it’s so good, I was right up there and you can see all the lines, the blood vessels, it’s just awesome to see it. I saw a lot of Alfred Hitchcock, and [the wax figure] is a perfect image of him.

What have you been up to these days?

Tippi Hedren
Tippi Hedren

I’m so busy it’s absurd.  I’m taking care of the exotic [animals] that have been born in the United States, lions and tigers, to be sold as pets, and of course they are not pets, they’re predators and they have no business being somebody’s pet. [Also] I’m working on a bill in Washington to stop the breeding of these animals, because there are so many people that have been hurt, children and adults, 38 in the last five years have been killed and close to 600 have been injured. This is insanity. I’m still acting, just really busy.

I understand that you have two of Michael Jackson’s Bengal tigers at your Sambala Preserve?

Yes, we have Thriller and Sabu. They’ve been with us since 2005, and they’re just beautiful, and I’m glad they’re with us for the rest of their lives. We are a sanctuary, which means no breeding, no buying, no selling, no trading, so that when something happens to me we won’t become one of the problems, because there are so many animals out there that need a home, and we just want to do it very responsibly. All of the animals at Shambala are so content just being where they are, it’s really wonderful

Had you met Michael?

He was going to come out at one point and we had a lunch ready to go and all of a sudden he had to cancel, which is too bad. It would have been nice for him to see where they were living. I’m sorry about that.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.