Hitchcock actress Tippi Hedren urges sexual assault victims to speak out

Greg Milam, US Correspondent

The actress Tippi Hedren, who famously accused legendary director Alfred Hitchcock of sexual assault, has urged today's stars to continue to speak out about harassment they suffer in Hollywood.

The star of Hitchcock classics The Birds and Marnie says educating young people about what is acceptable behaviour is the key to eradicating abuse.

Hedren described in her memoirs a catalogue of harassment by Hitchcock along with an assault in a car on the way to her hotel.

She credits the British director with helping to shape her career but says the "dark" part of his personality tried to dominate her.

She told Sky News that recent allegations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein that have rocked Hollywood came as little surprise to her.

"I think it has been going on since man and woman were put on this earth and I don't think there is anything that is going to stop it."

She offered this encouragement to those speaking out: "Keep it up. It is the only way it's going to stop.

"You don't have to put up with that.

"There is no reason in the world, not a good one, that you have to put up with that.

"What has to happen is that young people have to be educated in what they can accept, what they should accept, what they shouldn't accept and it has to be made very clear to them.

"This isn't unique to Hollywood it's just that Hollywood is more glamorous and more fun to talk about when it's an actress and a big producer that makes a story."

Hedren's fraught relationship with Hitchcock led to her career stalling but she says she regrets nothing.

"Alfred Hitchcock told me he would ruin my career and I stood up and as I was walking out the door I said: 'Do what you have to do' and I think it was the best door slamming I have ever done," she said.

For decades, her focus has been the Shambala Preserve, a big cat sanctuary she founded in the California desert and where she still lives.

The 87-year-old is the mother and grandmother of actors Melanie Griffiths and Dakota Johnson. That generational interest in Hollywood drives her to speak out.

She also dismisses criticism from fans and biographers of Hitchcock who have accused her of damaging his reputation.

She said: "That sort of activity needs to be brought out, and that there are women who will say 'No' and 'You are absolutely wrong in even attempting this' and we have a right to act out how we feel about that kind of thing."

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