Stocking up on Hitchcock
Drivers passing through Bodega are frequently startled to see Alfred Hitchcock standing out in front of the local store. Once they realize it is a mannequin disguised as the pudgy film master, they often come inside to see the museum that has sprung up around him.
Alfred Hitchcock’s famous horror flick “The Birds” put Bodega and Bodega Bay on the map in 1963. When Michael Fahmie bought the Bodega Country Market four years ago and tourists kept asking about the film, he decided to honor the famed director and start collecting memorabilia.
His first item was an autographed photo of Tippi Hedren, the film’s female lead. Every few months, Hedren stops by the store to view the growing collection, and Fahmie carries the wine that she sells to raise money for her big cat refuge, Shambala.
“There are movie prop shops and movie novelty stores in Southern California,” said Fahmie, 47. “My brother and I go there on treasure hunts a couple times a year. And people contact me as word spreads.
“One of the rarest things I have is a mask they had at the premier of ‘The Birds.’People got numbers, and if their number flashed on the screen they got a mask, which became a VIP backstage pass,” said Fahmie.
He has books about Hitchcock, original press kits from the French and English premiers, rare records and even a Tippi Hedren Barbie doll wearing a miniature replica of the green dress she wore in every scene. And he’s happy to have the latex Hitchcock mask his mannequin wears.
“It took me a long time to track down the one guy who makes them in Australia, and I got one of the last ones he made,” said Fahmie.”You’d think all Halloween stores would carry them. I am lucky to have found the maker before he retired.”
Many locals have items they collected in the early 1960s when Hitchcock came to town.
“A lot of them have lent me stuff to display,” said Fahmie. He collects stories as well, and the locals have plenty of them.
One local tale is about a kindergartner who fainted when she got off her school bus and saw Suzanne Pleshette as a corpse that had been pecked to death. Hitchcock stopped the filming and had the makeup man remove Pleshette’s gruesome makeup until the child laughed and Hitch was reassured she would not have nightmares.
While Bodega and its historic schoolhouse (now a private residence) have attracted Hitchcock fans, Fahmie has taken it to a new level.
During the parade at last year’s town festival, The Big Event, he pulled on the Hitch mask and marched through town with a Tippi look-alike being attacked by stuffed crows. This year, he is going one step further. He is sponsoring a parade of Tippis and a Tippi costume contest. Come August, guys and gals will get out their blonde wigs, green cloth and sewing machines.
Fahmie worked as a private chef in Florida and Texas until tiring of the job. He was familiar with Bodega from frequent visits to family in Sonoma County, so when the store went up for sale, he made a change.
He still cooks as much as he wants but now sells it as take-out food. His smoked clam chowder and crab macaroni and cheese have earned him professional kudos.
Fahmie wants the store to return to its general store origins, as well as housing his growing museum. He plans to rent some additional space in the building so he can expand the grocery aisles and make more room for the movie no one can forget.
It’s still immensely popular in Europe and South America,” he said. “No one can get enough of ‘The Birds.’”
He would know.