5 Facts About Alfred Hitchcock: Binge Eating, Creepy Pranks, & Snubbing Spielberg

Alfred Hitchcock was born today in 1899. To celebrate the “Master of Suspense," here are five facts about the strange habits and quirky fears that made his life as intriguing as his films.
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Alfred Hitchcock was born today in 1899. To celebrate the “Master of Suspense," here are five facts about the strange habits and quirky fears that made his life as intriguing as his films.
A publicity still from the"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" TV series. (Photo: CBS/Photofest)

A publicity still from the"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" TV series. (Photo: CBS/Photofest)

Food & Loathing

Alfred Hitchcock was seriously overweight for most of his life, and at one time carried 365 pounds on his 5’8” frame. A typical dinner consisted of “a roast chicken, a small void ham, potatoes, two vegetables, bread, a bottle of wine, salad, dessert, and brandy." "His lifelong craving for ice cream was usually satisfied later in the evening,” one biographer wrote. Besides the pleasure food gave him, he expressed his absolute fear and loathing of eggs in another interview: “. . .I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened; they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes and when you break it, inside there’s that yellow thing, round, without any holes… Brrr! have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid?”

Fear of Authority Figures

Hitchcock was terrified of authority and of policemen in particular. He attributed this fear to an experience he had when he was 6 years old. His father had sent him to the local police station with a note. The officer on duty read it and locked him in a cell for several minutes saying, “This is what we do to bad little boys.” Fast forward several decades when he was asked what he would like inscribed on his tombstone inscription, Hitchcock replied, "This is what we do to bad little boys." Hitchcock was cremated and his ashes scattered; there is no tombstone marker for the director.

His Goofy and Sadistic Pranks

Alfred Hitchcock strangles a bust of himself on the Universal Studios lot. It's the same location where he threw a morbid lunch for the cast of Family Plot (1976), among the prop tombstones pictured in the background. (Photo: Universal Pictures/Photofest)

Alfred Hitchcock strangles a bust of himself on the Universal Studios lot. It's the same location where he threw a morbid lunch for the cast of Family Plot (1976), among the prop tombstones pictured in the background. (Photo: Universal Pictures/Photofest)

Hitchcock was infamous for his practical jokes, some funny and others twisted and cruel. He once sent Peter Lorre a suit made by London’s most prestigious tailor; the suit, however, was sized for a child. On another occasion, the director sent an actor 400 smoked herrings, and in a much more macabre prank, he gave Tippi Hedren’s 6-year-old daughter Melanie Griffith an eerily accurate doll of her mother wearing a dress from The Birds and lying in a miniature coffin.

Alfred vs. Walt

Walt Disney thought Psycho was a disgusting movie and refused to let Hitchcock film at Disneyland in the 1960s. Although Hitchcock did call on some Disney magic for one of his other creepy films: he hired animation and special effects artist extraordinaire Ub Iwerks, the co-creator of Mickey Mouse, and used Disney’s special camera to film the famous bird attack in The Birds.

Tippi Hedren running from Hitchock's birds. (Photo: Universal Pictures/Photofest)

Tippi Hedren running from Hitchock's birds. (Photo: Universal Pictures/Photofest)

Snubbing Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg never got to meet his idol Hitchcock. (Photo: Getty Images)

Steven Spielberg never got to meet his idol Hitchcock. (Photo: Getty Images)

Hitchcock avoided meeting his greatest fan Steven Spielberg. According to actor Bruce Dern’s autobiography, he attempted to convince Hitch: "I said, 'You're his idol. He just [wants] to sit at your feet for five minutes and chat with you'," but Hitchcock refused. "He said, 'Isn't that the boy who made the fish movie?... I could never sit down and talk to him... because I look at him and feel like such a whore.'" Pressing him further Dern asked, “'Why do you feel Spielberg makes you a whore?' Hitch said, 'Because I'm the voice of the Jaws ride [at the Universal Studios theme park]. They paid me $1 million dollars. And I took it and I did it. I'm such a whore. I can't sit down and talk to the boy who did the fish movie... I couldn't even touch his hand."