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Classic Movie Characters: Melanie Daniels Played by Tippi Hedren in The Birds (1963)



Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels in The Birds

Another entry in our occasional series looking at classic characters from the golden age of movies; This time it’s Tippi Hedren’s Hitchcock Blonde Melanie Daniels in The Birds.

A wealthy, impetuous party girl—the Paris Hilton of her day—Melanie gets shaken out of her complacency by malevolent forces of nature after her arrival in bucolic Bodega Bay. In three short days, she endures inexplicable bird attacks and discovers unexpected reserves of strength and caring.

As played by Hedren, a former model (and Melanie Griffith’s mother), she is the ne plus ultra of Hitchcock’s icy blonds—her hair in a tight French roll, her chic suit immaculate until the final, most savage onslaught. Is she a harbinger of catastrophe or the only woman who can complete the Brenners’ fractured family? The Birds offers no easy answers.

Defining Moment: When she ventures alone into a bedroom to investigate some rustlings. For the five days shooting this scene, Hedren had real birds hurled at her, and a visiting Cary Grant told her, “I think you’re the bravest lady I’ve ever met.”

Director: Alfred Hitchcock