Alma Reville was born on August 14, 1899, in Nottingham, England. Her first job was working as a tea girl at a motion picture studio, where she quickly rose through the ranks. Throughout the 1920s and '30s, she worked as an assistant director, a screenwriter and an editor on a number of films. In 1926, she married Alfred Hitchcock and became known as "Lady Hitchcock," thanks largely to her unwavering support of her husband over their life together.
"Among those many people who have contributed to my life," said Alfred Hitchcock, while accepting the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979, "I ask permission to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation, and encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor. The second is a scriptwriter. The third is the mother of my daughter, Pat. And the fourth is a fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen. And their names are Alma Reville."
Despite Alfred Hitchcock's affinity for setting his aperture on sophisticated blondes, the star of his life was in fact a redhead. Alma Reville, who married Hitchcock in 1926, played a longstanding role as the director's indispensable, yet behind-the-scenes partner.
Born on August 14, 1899, in Nottingham, England, Alma Lucy Reville was the daughter of Matthew Reville, a representative at a lace firm. When she was young, her family moved to London, where her father had gotten a job at Twickenham Film Studios, the United Kingdom’s largest motion picture studio. The young girl often visited her father at his job in the costume department in hopes to get a glimpse of famous actors. Eventually, she was given a job there as a tea girl. Enterprising and hard working, Reville was soon promoted to a cutter, whose task was to assist directors in editing motion pictures. She also worked as a script girl and a director’s assistant, a combination which gave her an exposure to filmmaking available to few women at the time.
In 1919, the studio closed, but Alma Reville was given a job by an American motion picture company called Famous Players-Lasky. That company also hired a young graphic designer named Alfred Hitchcock. While Reville worked her way up to editor, Hitchcock gradually ascended to the position of art director. The two worked alongside one another for years, yet never spoke. By 1923, Hitchcock was an assistant director and Reville had lost her job, so he called her asking if she would edit his film, Woman to Woman. She agreed, marking the beginning of a partnership that would last 60 years.
Hitchcock and Reville would work on five films together. While sailing back from Germany after scouting locations for the 1924 silent film, The Prude’s Fall, Hitchcock proposed to Reville, who was bedridden with seasickness at the time. The two married on December 2, 1926. (Reville had converted to Catholicism before their wedding.) The couple had one daughter, Patricia Hitchcock.
Reville’s screen credits were extensive. She was the assistant director on The Lodger (1926) and helped craft screenplays for nearly a dozen films. She also wrote screen adaptations throughout the 1930s, including The Secret Agent (1936) and The Lady Vanishes (1938). But Lady Hitchcock’s best known contribution to film was perhaps made at her husband’s side, quietly advising the "Master of Suspense," who unquestioningly trusted her razor-sharp eye for detail.
Alma Reville Hitchcock died in Bel Air, California, on July 6, 1982, two years after her husband.
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