Alfred Hitchcock’s Philly Obsession: 14 Hints He Loved the City of Brotherly Love

We knew he loved Grace Kelly, but Hitchcock seemed to have an arsenal of other Philly talents at the ready throughout his career.


Artwork by Mike Hague

Artwork by Mike Hague

In honor of the 60th anniversary of TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents (which you can binge-watch on Netflix streaming) we take a look at some of the Philadelphians who worked with the legendary director in film or another capacity on television. Hitchcock enjoyed working with many actors over the course of his career, but there is something about the people from Philadelphia that caught his eye. Just as a warning some minor spoilers ahead.

Malcolm Atterbury (1907-1992)

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Malcolm Atterbury was born into a wealthy family in Philadelphia. His father, Malcolm Atterbury Sr., was president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Atterbury Jr., who felt that acting was his true calling, did not want to go into the family business. His first Hitchcock film was an uncredited role in North by Northwest, in which he played the man on the side of the road talking to Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant.) He later went on to have a supporting role in Hitchcock’s The Birds, playing the role of the sheriff in Bodega Bay. Aside from his work with Hitchcock, Atterbury has appeared in various roles on shows such as Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, and Perry Mason. He also had a recurring role on the television show Apple’s Way from 1974 to 1975.

Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959)

Ethel Barrymore with Ann Todd in Hitchcock's 'The Paradise Case.'

Ethel Barrymore with Ann Todd in Hitchcock’s ‘The Paradise Case.’

Ethel Barrymore starred in one of Hitchcock’s lesser known films The Paradine Case, but her claim to fame comes from her family name. The Barrymore family comes from Philadelphia and has produced many generations of actors and actress. They are celebrated in Hollywood and known as “The Royal Family” of acting, Barrymore’s career started on Broadway in 1895 in a play called The Imprudent Young Couple, which also starred her uncle John Drew Jr. She also appeared in a wide arrange of silent films and talkies starting in 1914 going all the way until 1957. Barrymore is an Oscar-winning actress. She won the award for the 1944 film None But the Lonely Heart, in which she starred opposite Cary Grant, one of Hitchcock’s frequent leading men.

Edward Binns (1916-1990)

Edward Binns has a small supporting role in North by Northwest. As Captain Junket, he investigates the potential kidnapping and attempted murder of Roger Thornhill, played by Cary Grant. Binns was born in Philadelphia on September 12, 1916, and is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University. He had supporting roles in critically acclaimed films such as 12 Angry Men, Patton, and The Verdict. He also got to hook up with Hitch prior to North by Northwest with a one-time stint on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in an episode called “Heart of Gold.”

Ellen Corby (1911-1999)

Ellen Corby in Hitchcock's "Vertigo."

Ellen Corby with Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.”

Philadelphia’s Ellen Corby had a long successful career as actress. She is credited with over 200 appearances in television and film. Her career spans over seven decades and she had roles in some popular films like Shane (1953), Sabrina (1954), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). She is most widely known as Grandma Esther Walton on the popular television series The Waltons. She began working under the Hitchcock banner in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Triggers in Leash.” Corby played the role of Maggie, a peacekeeping owner of a roadhouse trying to keep two outlaws from having a shootout. Hitchcock and Corby kept in touch as she would go on to appear in three more episodes of the show, an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and a small part in the film Vertigo as the innkeeper of the McKittrick Hotel (pictured).

Francis De Sales (1912-1988)

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Francis De Sales was born in Philadelphia and lived here until he eventually moved to New York and became a Broadway actor. Later he married and moved his family to California. In 1956 he appeared on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as a card player in “Crack of Doom.” He collaborated with creators one more time in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as Lieutenant Farrell in “Beyond the Sea of Death.” Other notable roles by the actor include Bill Weigand in the drama Mr. and Mrs. North, and Sheriff Maddox on Two Faces West.

Richard Deacon (1921-1984)

Richard Deacon in "The Birds."

Richard Deacon in “The Birds.”

To this day, Richard Deacon is most remembered for his roles as Mel Cooley in The Dick Van Dyke Show and Fred Rutherford on Leave It to Beaver. Richard Deacon was born in Philadelphia in May of 1921, and was cast in many films and television shows. You can spot him in the beginning of Hitchcock’s The Birds. Off screen Deacon was a gourmet chef. His prestige in the culinary arts led to him hosting a Canadian TV program on microwave cookery in the 1980s.

Norman Fell (1924-1998)

Norman Fell was a homegrown Philadelphian. He attend both Central High School and Temple University. Fell is mostly known for his role on television series Three’s Company and The Ropers as Stanley Roper, for which he won a Golden Globe Award. His success also extends to film, having appeared in popular flicks such as Ocean’s 11, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and The Graduate. Fell’s lone work with Hitchcock came in 1963 on an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Martin Gabel (1912-1986)

Martin Gabel on "What's My Line."

Martin Gabel on “What’s My Line.”

Martin Gabel was born on June 19, 1912 in Philadelphia. He was an actor and producer, mostly known for The James Dean Story (1957) and What’s My Line? (1950). Gabel also directed and enjoyed a nice career on stage. Gabel had a small but integral role in Hitchcock’s Marnie, in which he played the role of Sidney Strutt, a man who was the victim of the titular character after she stole $9,967 from him.

Henry Jones (1912-1999)

Henry Joness in "The Lady Says No" by Ross-Stillman Productions, Inc

Henry Joness in “The Lady Says No” by Ross-Stillman Productions, Inc

Born in New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia, Henry Jones was a favorite of Alfred Hitchcock. He is credited with five appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and one final appearance on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Jones appeared in more than 180 movies and television shows including Hitchcock’s Vertigo, in which he played the role of the coroner. Throughout his career he mostly played supporting roles in film and television.

Grace Kelly (1929-1982)

Philadelphia’s Grace Kelly captured the eye of Alfred Hitchcock early in her career, beginning what would turn out to be a mutually beneficial partnership. Originally from the Germantown area, Kelly moved to New York to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. There, she worked as a model and actress before breaking in to Hollywood. Kelly was cast as leading lady in three of Hitchcock’s most famous films, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief. She is widely recognized as the quintessential and most famous of the Hitchcock blondes. After her marriage to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III, Kelly quit acting and became a full-time princess, but Hitchcock would not let his leading lady go without a fight. He asked her to return to acting in 1963 to star as Melanie Daniels in The Birds and in 1964 to play the role of Margaret “Marnie” Edgar in the film Marnie. Both of the starring roles would go to newcomer Tippi Hedren.

Jack Klugman (1922-2012)

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Klugman in “The Twilight Zone”

Jack Klugman was an American stage, film and television actor. He began his career in 1950, spending most of his time on television. He appeared in many critically acclaimed shows, including the TV adaptation of The Odd Couple, The Defenders, which he won his first Primetime Emmy Award, and he appeared on four episodes of The Twilight Zone. He also had a lengthy starring role in the television series Quincy, M.E. from 1976–1983, he appeared in 147 of the 148 episodes of the show. He appeared in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1957 called “Mail Order Prophet.”

Dennis Patrick (1918-2002)

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Dennis Patrick Harrison was born March 14th, in Philadelphia, to a family of Irish descent in 1918. He graduated from North Catholic High School in 1935. Eventually he moved to Hollywood and began his career as an actor. Patrick is most known for his work in television. He made four guest appearances on Perry Mason, and three appearances on Hitchcock’s shows.

Peter Mark Richman (1927- )

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Peter Mark Richman is a Philadelphia man that began his career in the mid-1950s. His career spans over five decades, including roles in Knight Rider, Three’s Company and Matlock. Richman also starred in the last filmed episode of The Twilight Zone, called “The Fear.” Aside from his other work in television, Richman appeared in two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Philadelphia as a Location: Marnie (30th Street Station and Rutland)

Philadelphia was once used as the key location for the fictional Rutland & Company in the film Marnie. The film starred Tippi Hedren as Margaret “Marnie” Edgar and Sean Connery as Mark Rutland, the owner of the aforementioned company. A scene in the film was also shot a 30th Street Station. Tippi Hedren can be seen holding a Philadelphia Inquirer as she leaves the station. Hitchcock has also referred to Philadelphia numerous times throughout his films and television shows. For example, in To Catch a Thief, the character of Jessie Stevens, played by Jessie Royce Landis, can be heard mentioning the slogan of the now closed The Philadelphia Bulletin: “Almost everybody in Philadelphia reads The Bulletin.”