Pat Hitchcock, actor and only child of famed director Alfred Hitchcock, has died at the age of 93. Variety reports that Hitchcock’s daughter Katie O’Connell-Fiala confirmed that her mother died Monday in Thousand Oaks, California.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone who grew up surrounded by the film industry, Hitchcock started acting at boarding school and played teenage leads in two short-run Broadway plays in the 1940s: Solitaire and Violet. In a 1984 interview with The Washington Post, she remembered that her father saw her in Violet, but didn’t say much: “He never commented, only if he didn’t like something. Acting was a business—that’s how he viewed it.”
She also revealed in the same interview: “I wish he had believed in nepotism. I’d have worked a lot more. But he never had anyone in his pictures unless he believed they were right for the part. He never fit a story to a star, or to an actor. Often I tried to hint to his assistant, but I never got very far. She’d bring my name up, he’d say, ‘She isn’t right for it,’ and that would be the end of that.”
Nevertheless, Hitchcock did play memorable character roles in two of her father’s biggest films. After making her movie debut in his 1950 film Stage Fright (as well as performing as a double for star Jane Wyman in a fast-moving car stunt), she played the nosy sister of the heroine in 1951’s Strangers On A Train, who nearly gets strangled by Robert Walker’s murderous Bruno. In 1960’s Psycho, she appears as a co-worker of Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane. Hitchcock told The Washington Post, “I barely remember the whole thing, and most people forget I’m in Psycho. I say, ‘How can you possibly remember, after everything else that happens?’”
She also appeared in several episodes of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as on series like Suspense and My Little Margie. Hitchcock took a break from acting after marrying businessman Joseph O’Connell in 1952 and raising a family, although she still contributed to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. The 2003 biography Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind The Man gave the younger Hitchcock and co-author Laurent Bouzereau the opportunity to shine a light on her mother’s efforts in her father’s films. “She was much more brilliant than people realized,” Hitchcock told the Post. “She never edited in this country. She only did the early treatments… She didn’t do screenplays. But even after she stopped doing treatments, she was invaluable. She had a fantastic eye for everything on the screen.” For example, Hitchcock says her mother pointed out a possibly devastating error at a final screening of the Psycho print: Alma noticed that Janet Leigh could still be seen breathing at the end of Marion’s fatal shower scene.
In her later years, Hitchcock would continue to attend fan events and other gatherings to honor her father, like the 1999 unveiling of a bronze bust at Universal Studios to commemorate Alfred Hitchcock’s centennial birthday.