But to Tippi Hedren, who starred in two of his best-known movies, Sir Alfred Hitchcock was a creepy pervert.
"He was evil and deviant, almost to the point of being dangerous," the 82-year-old actress told me when we talked in Los Angeles.
Tippi was an elegant, ice-cool blonde model who had never acted before when Hitchcock saw her in a TV commercial and cast her in The Birds and Marnie.
But when she rejected his crude sexual advances he made her life a living hell, she says.
“To be the object of someone’s obsession is horrible,” she said. “It was a form of stalking. He had my handwriting analysed, he had me followed and it was as if I was being engulfed by him.”
He was particularly fond of reciting dirty limericks and telling crude jokes on the set. “Some of them were terribly filthy and I didn’t want them in my head,” she said.
After Marnie wrapped he kept her under contract, paying her $600 a week but refused to let her work. "He said he'd ruin my career and he did," she told me.
Her ordeal is now the subject of a 90-minute BBC2 television drama, The Girl, starring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock, with Imelda Staunton as Hitchcock’s wife, Alma, and Penelope Wilton as his loyal assistant, Peggy Robertson.
Tippi, still cooly elegant, now runs Shambala, the wild game preserve she founded on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
“I got over Hitchcock a long time ago because I wasn’t going to allow my life to be ruined because of it,” she said. “It was like I was in a mental prison but now it has no effect on me. I did what I had to do to deal with it.”