Written By: Ben Cosgrove

Alfred Hitchcock’s movies are unlike any other filmmaker’s, for reasons that have been celebrated and analyzed for half-a-century. His unique melding of wry humor, suspense, powerhouse performances and a healthy regard for adult relationships, i.e., sex, make Sir Alfred’s films among the most entertaining and, at the same time, aesthetically rewarding in the history of the medium.

From early gems like The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes to later classics like Lifeboat, Spellbound, Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, Psycho, The Birds and so many others, Hitchcock’s movies even when quite genuinely disturbing are at-once sophisticated and fun.

Here, LIFE.com pays tribute to Alfred Hitchcock by celebrating the many actresses who served as muses and, in some cases, regrettably, emotional punching bags, for the demanding and often completely besotted director.

Tippi Hedren testing for Marnie (in which she starred) in 1963. She also starred, most famously, in Hitchcock’s The Birds.

John Dominis Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Teresa Wright (Shadow of a Doubt) and Alfred Hitchcock in 1942.

Gjon Mili Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Joan Fontaine with Alfred Hitchcock and Laurence Olivier in 1939

Joan Fontaine — of Rebecca and Suspicion fame — with Alfred Hitchcock and Laurence Olivier in 1939.

Peter Stackpole Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Tallulah Bankhead on the set of Lifeboat in 1943.

Peter Stackpole Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Grace Kelly (on the set of the movie The Country Girl in 1954) was one of Hitchcock’s favorite actresses, starring in To Catch a Thief, Rear Window and Dial M for Murder.

Ed Clark Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Doris Day, who starred in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

John Florea Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Julie Andrews, who starred in Torn Curtain, in 1961.

Leonard McCombe Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Anne Baxter, who starred in I Confess.

John Florea Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Eva Marie Saint, who starred with Cary Grant and James Mason in North by Northwest.

Nina Leen Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Janet Leigh, who starred in Psycho.

Allan Grant Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Ingrid Bergman, who starred in Notorious and Spellbound.

Gordon Parks Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Shirley MacLaine in 1955. She starred in The Trouble With Harry.

Loomis Dean Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Kim Novak in 1954. She starred in Vertigo, which is regarded by many as Hitchcock’s greatest film.

J.R. Eyerman Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

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