5 Things You Didn't Know About Alfred Hitchcock

On August 13, 1899, movie director Alfred Hitchcock was born in London. As an adult, he became the movie director known as “The Master of Suspense.” Here are 5 things you may not know about the Hollywood director famed for his psychological suspense movies...

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Hitchcock Was Known as a Practical Joker Hitchcock’s practical jokes ran the gamut from whoopie cushions to betting a crewmember that he couldn’t pass an entire night in handcuffs and then secretly dosing him with a laxative beforehand. At a dinner party one night, he surprised guests when they discovered all the different food courses had been dyed a bright blue. Another practical joke he pulled was during the filming of The 39 Steps when he handcuffed Madeline Carroll and Robert Donat together for hours and then pretended the key was lost — eventually, magically discovering it in his coat pocket.

Like Where’s Waldo, Hitchcock Appears in His Movies Audiences and fans of Hitchcock have enjoyed looking for him over the years in his movies, where he often made inventive cameo appearances. He appeared in 39 movies over the years, and his cameos were so distracting to viewers that he began placing them in the films early on so the audience could relax and enjoy watching the show. In 1944, during the film Lifeboat, there wasn’t much opportunity for Hitchcock to make a cameo appearance, but ever-inventive, he appears in a newspaper ad as the “before” and “after” for “Reducto Obesity Slayer,” a product for weight loss.

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He Refused to Cast Jimmy Stewart Following the release of Vertigo, Hitchcock thought actor Jimmy Stewart was too old, and that was one reason the movie wasn’t more popular, so he swore never to hire Stewart again. When he was casting North By Northwest, Hitchcock didn’t want to tell Stewart that he wouldn’t have the lead, so he waited until the veteran actor had started working on Bell, Book and Candle. This meant Hitchcock could cast Cary Grant as the lead, which is what he wanted from the start.

Hitchcock Fought With Hollywood Censors Hollywood censors probably didn’t look forward to checking Hitchcock’s movies for restricted content because the great director fought it out with them to get his way. When Hitchcock was filming Psycho, he sent the office of the censors graphic scenes of nudity and violence, so they might be more forgiving of the more subtle scenes he was filming. The censors asked him later to redo the opening of the movie, which they found suggestive, so he invited them to come on the set and instruct him in how to shoot it, but of course, nobody showed up, so he kept the original scene.

Once Psycho Started, Late Moviegoers Were Banned From Entering Psycho was terrifying, dramatic and completely different from other films of the day, so Hitchcock wanted to ensure that theater viewers got the full effect by watching the movie from its beginning. He tried to purchase all the copies of the novel to keep the ending a secret, barred its stars from giving interviews and even demanded that major theaters not allow people to enter the theaters once the film had started. Signs were even posted saying there would be no admittance after the film started, including for the Queen of England or the President of the United States.