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The List: Top 10 Hitchcock blondes

- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2013

They were daring, beautiful and blonde. They were sophisticated, smart, cool and dangerous. They were known as "Hitchcock blondes." One of those platinum beauties — Kim Novak, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "'Vertigo," turns 80 on Feb. 13. Her other film credits included "Picnic" (1955), "The Man With the Golden Arm" (1955), "Pal Joey" (1957) and "Kiss Me, Stupid"(1964). The List this week looks at the top ten leading ladies from Hitchcock's films.

  • 10. Priscilla Lane: The Iowa-born Lane was one of five Lane sisters in show business. Director Hitchcock didn't want Lane and Robert Cummings for the leads in 1942's "Saboteur" (he wanted Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper), but Universal Studios, which had signed a one-picture deal with Lane, demanded it. Lane comes off gutsy and charming in the film as she helps fugitive Cummings escape the police and spies. She died at age 79 in 1995.
  • 9. Madeleine Carroll: Hitchcock used Carroll twice in his films — the classic "The 39 Steps" (1935), and the less famous "Secret Agent" (1936). Carroll was born in West Bromwich, England, and graduated from the University of Birmingham with a B.A. in French. In World War II, she was a field hospital nurse and lost a sister in the Blitz. Carroll was married four times. Her second husband was actor Sterling Hayden. She died at age 81 in Marbella, Spain, in 1987.
  • 8. Joan Fontaine: Joan Fontaine won an Oscar in 1942 for her role in the Hitchcock classic "Suspicion" (1941), in which she alternately feared and adored her handsome husband, played by Cary Grant. Miss Fontaine, 95, currently lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. She and her older sister, actress Olivia De Havilland, are two of the last surviving leading ladies from the Hollywood of the 1930s.
  • 7. Doris Day: Some of Hitchcock's associates suggested a more serious blonde to play the role of Jo McKenna in the "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956), but Hitchcock chose Doris Day, often viewed as the quintessential girl next door. The film was an American remake of Hitchcock's 1934 British film of the same name. Miss Day turns 90 on April 1.
  • 6. Eva Marie Saint: Hitchcock surprised many by choosing Eva Marie Saint for the role as a delicate Mata Hari in the 1959 suspense classic "North by Northwest" with Cary Grant as a fugitive hero and James Mason as a debonair menace. Hitchcock's instruction to her was: "Lower your voice, don't use your hands and look directly into Cary Grant's eyes." The film is listed as No. 40 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 films. Miss Saint has been married to TV director Jeffrey Hayden for 61 years.
  • 5. Kim Novak: Kim Novak co-starred with Jimmy Stewart in back-to-back productions released in 1958: "Vertigo" for Hitchcock at Paramount and "Bell, Book and Candle" for director Richard Quine at Columbia. "Vertigo" was the high-water mark for of her career. She played a beautiful young woman victimized by her participation in an elaborate criminal deception. Miss Novak, 80, lives at her ranch in Eagle Point, Ore. ["Vertigo" won the decennial Sight & Sound film-critics poll as the greatest film ever in 2012, the first film to beat out "Citizen Kane" since it first won in 1962. (It had won every decade since.)]
  • 4. Tippi Hedren: Hitchcock used Miss Hedren in two films, "The Birds" (1963) and "Marnie" (1964). "The Birds" was her first film. She had previously just done commercials. It has been reported that she was Hitchcock's least favorite of his leading blondes. According to Donald Spoto's 1983 biography, "The Dark Side of Genius," Miss. Hedren claimed that Hitchcock harassed her on the set of "The Birds," and during the filming of "Marnie," "made an overt sexual proposition" and threatened to ruin her career when she refused. Miss Hedren, 83, runs Shambala, a big cat sanctuary in California.
  • 3. Janet Leigh: She starred in just one Hitchcock film, the 1960 movie "Psycho," which included the murder of her character in the shower, the film's pivotal scene and one of the best-known scenes in cinema history. The scene took a week to film and involved more than 70 takes. It was Leigh's most notably career role, even though she leaves the screen early in the movie. The role earned her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. She was the wife of actor Tony Curtis from June 1951 to September 1962 and the mother of Kelly Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis. She died at age 77 in 2004.
  • 2. Ingrid Bergman: Of all Hitchcock's blondes, the cool and mysterious Ingrid Bergman was the most talented actress winning three Academy Awards in her career. She was also Grace Kelly's favorite actress. Bergman starred in three Hitchcock films: "Spellbound" (1945), "Notorious" (1946) and "Under Capricorn" (1949). Her best performance was in "Notorious" with Cary Grant. She is ranked as the fourth-greatest female star of American cinema of all time by the American Film Institute. She died at age 67 in 1982.
  • 1. Grace Kelly: The most beautiful of all Hitchcock's blondes, she starred in three of Hitchcock's films: "Dial M for Murder," (1954), "Rear Window" (1954) and "To Catch a Thief" (1955). She made her last film in 1956 and married Prince Rainier III of Monaco to become Princess Grace. Before success on the big screen, she honed her talent in nearly 60 live television programs. Her life was cut short at 52, when in 1982, she suffered a stroke while driving, resulting in a fatal crash.

Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: The Washington Times, sebastian.hubpages, The Guardian

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