9 chilling facts about 'The Alfred Hitchcock Hour'
Learn how Christmas cards, comedians and classic crime novelists all link to the 1963 anthology series.
Vertigo regularly tops Best Movies of All Time lists, but the British director focused equally on the small screen. Who can forget his silhouette and the harrumphing theme music that introduced his TV series?
As a host, Hitchcock dished dry witticism and black humor as he presented delectable hours of suspense and crime — first on Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962) and then on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962–1965). You can catch the latter on MeTV.
Here are nine bits of intriguing trivia about The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
Hitchcock did direct one episode.
After helming over a dozen Presents episodes, the director only sat behind the camera for a single Hour, the fourth episode, "I Saw the Whole Thing."
Image: AP Photo
Some other legendary names also directed episodes.
William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) shot the final episode, "Off Season," his first non-documentary work as a young director. Hitchcock reportedly admonished him for not wearing a tie on the set. Sydney Pollack also handled a couple episodes.
Iconic crime writers handled the scripts, as well.
Patricia Highsmith (pictured), who penned Strangers on a Train, which Hitchcock would go on to famously adapt, not to mention the Ripley novels, wrote "Annabel", a season one episode with Dean Stockwell. Pulp noir ace Robert Bloch adapted the teleplay. Richard Matheson also chipped in. The scripts were typically fantastic.
Image: AP Photo
His famous profile sketch was originally made for a Christmas card.
Legend has it that the iconic, minimalist sketch of Hitchcock's bust was made by the director for a holiday greeting back when he was in England.
Walt Disney refused to allow Hitchcock to film at Disneyland.
In the early 1960s, Hitchcock asked Walt Disney for permission to film at his relatively new theme park in Anaheim. Disney denied the director access to the Magic Kingdom, citing his disgust of Psycho. At the time, Hitchcock was developing a potential new thriller with Jimmy Stewart as a blind man, as well as working on his television series.
Image: AP Photo
Hitchcock tattooed a side of beef.
In his blackly comedic interludes between segments, Hitch would often play with silly props with a straight face. He turned a surf board into an ironing board. He held a gigantic house key. And, during "Final Vow," he puts a tattoo on a slab of meat.
Walter Koenig appeared in an episode about gangs.
Before becoming Chekov on Star Trek, Koenig played Tiger, leader of a street gang, in "Memo from Purgatory." The episode was based on author Harlan Ellison's memoir of going undercover in a gang to research his first novel. A young James Caan also stars in this one!
Bob Newhart played a murderous husband.
It was Henny Youngman who quipped, "Take my wife…please," but comedian Newhart took marital discord to a new level in "How to Get Rid of Your Wife," a devilish plot involving rat poison. Spoiler alert: He gets rid of his wife. But not how you imagine!
Tons of notable actors appeared on the show.
Aside from the aforementioned Koenig, Caan and Newhart, Hour gave work to John Cassavetes, Bruce Dern, Peter Falk, Peter Fonda, Martin Landau, Christopher Lee, Lee Majors, Jayne Mansfield, Gena Rowlands, Gloria Swanson and more. Man, why don't they make shows like this anymore?