Interview with Tippi Hedren: Saving animals is for ‘The Birds’ star [classic article]

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Tippi Hedren got her start in films as the star of Hitchcock’s 1963 classic “The Birds” and since has appeared in more than two dozen films and three dozen TV shows. She’s worked with such greats as Chaplin, Sean Connery, Brando and Angela Lansbury. Hedren has never been afraid to roll up her sleeves and play someone other than the cheesecake — she’s familiar with comedy and camp, including roles on soap operas, “The Bionic Woman,” as a cartoon character voice on Freakazoid, and hosting “Evening at the Improv.”

Her newest passions involve an intense involvement in the animal rights movement and being a spokeswoman for osteoporosis treatment. She is head of the Roar Foundation’s Shambala Preserve near Acton, Calif. As to osteoporosis, Hedren is working with the Orthopaedic Hospital in Los Angeles to call attention to its painless, inexpensive and quick tests for the bone disorder.

By the way — for those who don’t know it, Tippi is Melanie Griffith’s mother.

Bankrate: Are you involved in any new projects?

Hedren: I’m doing a new series, an anthology for kids — very scary! It’s the Goosebumps series. I play a witch, great fun. The way they have me dressed and made up, I was so excited! I wear a black curly wig and black eyelashes. It’s being done by Warner’s, I think. It should air in the fall.

Bankrate: You seem to have a greater involvement in your favorite causes than other celebrities. You must have so many places to be, things to do. What is your secret to time management?

Hedren: I have someone who is adept at it, Jennifer Loomis. She’s brilliant at managing schedules. We discuss what is most important. It’s really one of the biggest problems; I like to spend time with my family. Now here’s something. I was asked about cloning, and I was very, very negative. It’s Frankenstinian. But I have entertained the thought of cloning me! There would be five of me: one to tend the wild animals, one for acting, one for traveling, one for fun, one for sleeping!

Bankrate: Regarding your involvement in many animal charities, how can citizens prevent cruelty-to-animals crimes?

Hedren: It has to be noticed very early in their lives, if they treat animals poorly. We have to teach that animals have just as much right to be on the planet as we do. It takes the parents, teachers and the community. I have stopped it on the streets, children being mean to animals. The parents may tell me it’s not my business, but I politely ignore them.

Bankrate: You are very involved in the area of osteoporosis. How did you choose that cause?

Hedren: I really became involved when they called me to have a bone scan. My doctors never told me to, and I wondered. It’s painless and you know if you have it immediately. The only way you know about it is if you have a bone scan or break a bone. It’s not like arthritis. Eighty percent of people affected by this disease are women.

Bankrate: Do you think that the fact that it’s a “women’s disease” has affected the funding?

Hedren: No, it’s the fact that the bone scan is so much less dangerous than it used to be, the radiation is minimal. The other thing is to take calcium. I’ve been hit by lions and tigers. I slipped in a marble spa last year, landed on my knee! It wasn’t broken. The doctors said I had the bones of a 28- or a 30-year-old! You can make your chances worse by no exercise and four or five cups of coffee a day. I do lift weights and exercise everyday. I do a lot of walking, power walking. And, of course, quit smoking!

Bankrate: I have seen your daughter smoking when she was filming a movie here.

Hedren: I know! I can’t believe it. Kids! With some people …

Bankrate: What kind of reception do you get from Hollywood regarding your charitable activities?

Hedren: Good. I like being a do-gooder. I have passion for what I do. If you have a passion and feel strongly, do it. That goes for anything.

Bankrate: Do you incur any unusual expenses as an actress?

Hedren: Keep yourself healthy because that’s an expense of time. As an actress, you very rarely use your own wardrobe. You have to keep up with acting, coaching. There are public relations people, that’s expensive. There are managers, that’s expensive. Some of the power actors — the staff they have carry exorbitant taxes and salaries. I don’t know how they make any money at all!

Bankrate: There is a trend for actors who wish to be considered “serious,” but increase their income, to only accept commercial endorsements in places like Japan. Opinions?

Hedren: I think it’s fine. As an actor, you are ALWAYS looking for a job. They aren’t paying you for the next 20 years. In the U.S., if they’ve seen too much of them, then it sets a different tone to their career. I’d take it! Of course, my daughter does commercials, but here in the U.S., Revlon. At any rate, there are a lot of managers and agents making those decisions, so many variables.

Bankrate: Did you ever have or request special perks on a set?

Hedren: Oh, no. I do like to have a rather nice trailer, for a lot of reasons. I work in between takes, do interviews. I don’t have any picky things. I just require that it be comfortable and clean. Every actor should produce a movie — then they would realize how hard it is to make all these demands. I have produced, and what a pain in the neck it can be!

Bankrate: Did you ever have any rigorous or torturous treatment from the so-called “studio system”?

Hedren: No, in fact, they had to feed me a little bit more, I was so thin. They gave me ginger ale, ice cream and a banana all mixed up in a blender. Hitchcock gave me my start, he found me in a commercial.

Bankrate: Do you have any favorite investments?

Hedren: I’m kind of broke, but I’m not lacking in anything. The preserve is my investment … it takes the national debt to keep it going. I did produce a film, but I put all my money back into the film. That’s what you do.

Bankrate: Did you ever have any jobs before being an actress?

Hedren: Oh, sure! I worked in a bank, filing. I worked in a gift shop. I was modeling since the age of 13. I stepped off a streetcar, and a lady handed me her business card.

Bankrate: Were you a strict or indulgent mom?

Hedren: I think I was indulgent. My daughter picked up on it — she’s a good shopper! She has the money. It helps! She was showing signs of independence at 9 months.

Bankrate: What’s a splurge to you?

Hedren: A little bit of time to live. I love going to antique shops, interesting places. I love travel, seeing different unique things. And I’m a great collector! There’s no room on my walls! I have Lladro and tons of family pictures. Every day, I watch “The Bold and the Beautiful.” I was on it for several months. The ridiculousness of it! I tape it.

Bankrate: What do you consider a waste of money?

Hedren: Spending a lot on clothes, it’s a terrible waste. That I don’t understand. There are so many situations that can be helped with money. So many wear horribly expensive outfits once.

Bankrate: Do you have any advice for young people starting out?

Hedren: Well, for actors, have another vocation, some financial stability. Learn finance; I wish I had. Learn from your mistakes, which is difficult. Eat well, don’t smoke. Choose friends wisely. Learn your craft, no matter what you do.

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