Tippi Hedren

Tippi Hedren

Actress, Environmentalist, Founder and President of “The Roar Foundation”

She is the ultimate ìHitchcock Blondeî : cool, often calculating, concealing fiery depths sufficient to melt her own icy faÁade while exuding plenty of steam. Although she made just two films for the Master of Suspense-The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964)-that duo has earned her a place in cinema history cemented by the tensile delicacy of her acting. As critic David Thomson wrote, ìMarnie is an actressís triumph as well as a directorís, and the way in which Tippi Hedren mutters ëThere…there nowí when she shoots her horse is typical of the insight and pathos she brings to the sexually inhibited thief.

It seems significant that Hedren made her much-lauded debut in a film about creatures of the air, and that Thomson cites a scene from Marnie in which she interacts, albeit tragically, with the one thing on earth her character loves : an animal. Because animals-which Hedren views as our planetary co-habitants-are, perhaps, the only things that could have seduced her away from her burgeoning acting career. Hedren admits to being an animal lover from birth-ìCall it a birth effect,î she says-but acknowledges that her movie-making experiences encouraged that innate passion.

After her Hitchcock films, she made two movies in Africa, Satanís Harvest (1970) and Mister Kingstreetís War (1973) ; her encounters there engendered the 1981 film, Roar, a family adventure about the big cats of Africa. Although the filmís production difficulties came in for the lionís share, as it were, of its notoriety, it led to Hedrenís establishment of the Shambala Preserve for wildlife, the crowning achievement of her lifeís work on behalf of animals.

Shambala-Hindi for higher or heavenly place-is a wildlife sanctuary giving lifetime residence and care to exotic animals born in captivity : often purchased as infant ìpetsî and then abandoned, or utilized and then discarded by the entertainment industry-in films, television, carnivals, or circuses. Says Hedren, ìItís always a major problem trying to raise the money because, you know, the costs are around $50,000 a month. Any time it gets really, really rough I start walking around the preserve and I look at the animals. I think about the abuse they have suffered and how happy they are now due to the people who work with me and share my philosophy. Then Iím ready to get back to work.

Hedren’s good works are not all devoted to animals ; she labors, also, as a volunteer International Relief Coordinator for Food for the Hungry, traveling worldwide to set up relief programs in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, famine, and war. But her primary efforts remain focused on the creatures who share our planet and cannot speak for themselves. She has served as a board member of The Wildlife Safari and the Elsa Wild Animal Appeal, and is currently president of the American Sanctuary Association, and of The Roar Foundation.

Tonight, Jules Verne Adventures is honored to present the Jules Verne Nature Award to Tippi Hedren, a model-in both the imaginative realm of cinema and in the real world-of style, elegance, and compassionate intelligence.