The Only Major Actors Still Alive From Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 classic "The Birds" is a staple of Hollywood cinema, and it had to age a bit to earn its spot in the canon. The film only earned one Oscar nomination for special effects, but it is easily one of the most well-remembered works in the accomplished director's oeuvre. Almost half a century has passed since the film's release and many of its main actors are no longer with us. Most of them went on to have storied careers, some of them were already established figures of the entertainment industry, but unfortunately only two of them are still alive today.

Her character Melanie barely survives "The Birds," but Tippi Hedren is one of two stars in the film that has lived to see the 2020s. Hedren worked with Hitchcock again on his thriller "Marnie," but did not have much of a career afterwards. She did go on to co-star in "Roar" with her daughter Melanie Griffith, who herself went on to star in "Lolita" and "Working Girl." Hedren's granddaughter Dakota Johnson, best known for starring in "Fifty Shades of Grey," claimed that Hitchcock "ruined" her grandmother's career on The Hollywood Reporter podcast.

The Old Hollywood actor levied several claims of abuse ranging from psychological to sexual against the world-renowned director, per People. Despite the trauma she experienced in the workplace, Hedren seems to have a thriving family life and is still alive in 2023 at 93 years old. However, she has not acted in years — perhaps due to the remnant effects of Hitchcock's abuse.

Tippi Hedren and Veronica Cartwright are the only living Birds stars

The only other actor from "The Birds" who is still alive in 2023 is Veronica Cartwright, who plays the 11-year-old niece of Melanie's love interest, Mitch. Cartwright was very young when she shot the movie and celebrated her 13th birthday on the set, or so she once told Fox News. Cartwright went on to have a fruitful career in sci-fi and fantasy movies after "The Birds," landing big roles in classics like "Alien," "The Witches of Eastwick," and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." She is only 74 as of 2023 and still alive, well, and working as an actor. She most recently landed a recurring role in the CW series "Gotham Knights."

Despite Hedren's accounts of on-set abuse, Cartwright has mostly fond memories of Hitchcock. "He was always so incredibly nice to me," she added. However, even she recognized that he was eccentric and would push his actors to their limits.

"On the set, he would do a lot of odd things," she went on. She recounted an in-studio scene where the cast had to run on a huge treadmill. "I remember he sped up the treadmill and there were just bodies flying everywhere," Cartwright continued. "We ran like crazy. We all desperately wanted to get to the front. He was a little sadistic I guess."

Even though they feel very differently about the late director, the actor is still on good terms with her only living "Birds" co-star, Hedren. The pair reunited at a 50th-anniversary screening in 2013, the only main cast members in attendance. Although all of the other main cast members have since passed away, one more of them was still alive at the 50-year mark.

Rod Taylor just passed away in 2015

Rod Taylor, who played Mitch in "The Birds," had a long and fruitful career before passing away in 2015 at age 84 — two years after the film's 50th anniversary. The actor did most of his noteworthy work in the mid-20th century but was still working well into the 2000s. He even came out of retirement in 2009 to play the small but significant role of Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino's World War II epic "Inglourious Basterds." It's amazing that Taylor was still acting so late in his life, but he wasn't the only cast member who worked well past retirement age.

Mitch's formidable mother Lydia was portrayed by Jessica Tandy, who was still acting until the year of her death in 1994 at age 83. She had a flourishing filmography well into her old age and even earned an Academy Award in 1989 for Best Actress in the film "Driving Miss Daisy," making her the oldest recipient of this award to date.

However, Tandy was not the only female member of the main cast of "The Birds" that managed to maintain a successful career up until the time of their death. Suzanne Pleshette, who plays Mitch's former lover, did significant voice acting work in titles like "Lion King II: Simba's Pride" and the English dub for "Spirited Away," along with recurring roles and cameos in sitcoms like "Will and Grace" and "8 Simple Rules." She passed away at just 70 years old of respiratory failure back in 2008, per New York Times.

Thankfully, all of the main cast members lived to see old age. But some of them lived to see an even older age!

All of the cast members lived into old age, even the supporting actors

Most of the supporting cast members of "The Birds" are no longer with us, in part because quite a few of them were already rather old when the film was made over half a century ago. Ethel Griffies, who plays Mrs. Bundy in the '63 psycho-thriller, acted professionally from 1899 until 1966, making "The Birds" one of her last and also most career-defining films. After acting well into her 80s, she died in 1974 at age 97.

Griffies' co-star Ruth McDevitt was also an older woman by the time she starred in "The Birds," although she was slightly younger than Griffies at 68. Her other credits included playing Miss Inch in the 1961 version of "The Parent Trap" and recurring roles on hit series like "Bewitched" and "The Andy Griffith Show." She had a long and fruitful professional life before passing in 1976 at age 80.

There may be only two remaining living major actors from "The Birds” left in 2023, but thankfully the main cast members were all blessed with long and accomplished lives, even if they have since passed. Although many of them are no longer with us, their legacy is immortalized in Hitchcock's beloved film.