From Kim Novak to Janet Leigh: A Look at Alfred Hitchcock's Best Leading Ladies

In honor of 'Hitchcock,' we've rounded up 11 of the filmmaker's iconic leading ladies. Get ready to scream!
4 / 4

9. Eva Marie Saint – North by Northwest (1959)

Eva Marie Saint

After winning an Academy Award for her first feature film role (1954’s On the Waterfront—would that we could all launch with such success!), Eva Marie Saint won the coveted role of North by Northwest’s femme fatale, Eve Kendall. The role requited her to cut her signature waist-length blonde hair short. As Hitchcock put it, “Short hair gives Eva a more exotic look, in keeping with her role of the glamorous woman of my story. I wanted her dressed like a kept woman—smart, simple, subtle, and quiet. In other words, anything but the bangles and beads type.” She also pitched her voice lower and huskier than usual. The result? Pretty darn good!

Read A Birthday Salute to Tilda Swinton’s Wonderfully Wacky Red Carpet Style

10. Janet Leigh – Psycho (1960)

Janet Leigh

If you know only one Hitchcock scene, odds are it’s the shower scene featuring Janet Leigh’s ill-fated embezzler, Marion Crane, in Psycho. Contrary to popular belief, none of the following rumors are true: A) That Janet wasn’t actually present for the shooting of the shower scene; B) That Hitchcock used ice-cold water to make her screams more realistic (according to Janet, Hitchcock was very generous with a supply of hot water); and C) That Janet had only been instructed to stand in the shower and had not been informed that her character was going to be killed, causing a more authentic reaction. Thank goodness for that!

11. Tippi Hedren – The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964)

Tippi Hedren

Tippi Hendren kicked off her career as a model in 1950 at the tender age of 20. Hitchcock spotted her in an ad on The Today Show and went gaga for her Grace Kelly-esque sophistication, which prompted him to put her through a $25,000 screen test (seriously!) before signing her for a multi-year, exclusive contract. Though Marnie didn’t do nearly as well as The Birds, Tippi has said that it was her favorite of her two Hitchcock films; she enjoyed the challenge of playing an emotionally battered young woman who travels from city to city, assuming disguises to rob her employers. I suspect that the fact that she didn’t have to deal with prop men flinging live birds at her for five solid days over the course of shooting like she did for The Birds also had something to do with it.

Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.

Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

follow BettyConfidential on... Pinterest

Read More About...

One thought on “From Kim Novak to Janet Leigh: A Look at Alfred Hitchcock's Best Leading Ladies

Leave a Reply

top of page jump to top