Golden Facts About Eva Marie Saint, The Hitchcock Blonde

August 24, 2023 | Rachel Seigel

Golden Facts About Eva Marie Saint, The Hitchcock Blonde

Eva Marie Saint is one of Hollywood's living legends, with a career spanning 70 years. The icy blonde beauty wasn't just an Alfred Hitchcock favorite; she also had a star-making role in the classic film On the Waterfront. Yet for all this acclaim, Saint's life has also been full of heartache and tragedy.

Below are 42 facts about the alluring actress.

1. Pop the Bubbly

The classic actress actually had an adorable nickname growing up. In her high school yearbook, Saint is listed as being nicknamed “Bubbles,” which she says she earned when she was a child because she’d make bubbles in her mouth. The nickname stuck with her all through high school, with the actress finally shedding the name before she left for college.


2. A Different Ambition

Amazingly, acting was not Saint’s original ambition. The young, compassionate girl originally wanted to be a teacher. She was actually in the middle of majoring in education when a drama professor asked her to try out for a play. She got the role and loved the experience so much that she decided to change her major to drama. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

3. A Thrilling Experience

Saint got her start in show business working as a page (intern) for the television studio NBC. At 19, it was her first job out of school, and it changed her life. According to Saint, the experience brought her out of her shell and gave her the opportunity to meet stars like Joan Crawford, whose brief words to her one day were as she describes, "the thrill of her summer."

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

4. Gotta Start Somewhere

Saint’s first job on television wasn’t actually an acting job—it was far more humiliating than that. Her job was to applaud the acts first off-screen and then on-screen for $15.00. This wasn’t exactly a prestigious role or even a Hollywood-sized paycheque, but it allowed her to buy a new dress, and that was good enough for Eva to begin with.

Eva Marie Saint FactsShutterstock

5. Facing Rejection

Saint experienced brutal rejection in the very infancy of her career. In one of her early stage roles, she was set to play opposite Henry Fonda in Mister Roberts. Just as she was about to perform on opening night, the director gave her crushing news: she was being replaced because the production was “nervous with you.”

Saint was utterly devastated. After that, she made up her mind never to let the profession get to her heart, so she’d be better able to handle it when rejection happened.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikimedia Commons

6. What, Like It's Hard?

Saint finally got her break and burst onto the Hollywood scene with On the Waterfront, the classic 1954 film about dockworker corruption. Astonishingly, it was Saint's very first film—but her debut absolutely knocked it out of the park. In fact, she was nominated for and then won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role, which is no small feat.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikipedia

7. Keeping Her Cool

On the Waterfront famously stars Marlon Brando as a brooding, grieving dockworker. The legendary actor, however, was also legendarily difficult on set—but this didn't scare Eva Marie Saint. As she once explained firmly, “I’ve never been intimidated by other actors because I'm an actor." To her, the tempestuous Brando was just another coworker.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikimedia Commons

8. What a Tease

Though Saint refused to be intimidated by the smouldering Brando while filming On the Waterfront, he still had an effect on her. Director Elia Kazan had told Saint to act virginal and shy in one of their scenes together, but when Brando showed up, he immediately began teasing the green actress. Saint admitted that it "put me off balance. And I remained off balance for the whole shoot."

Portrait Of Marlon Brando.Getty Images

9. Ready to Pop

When Saint accepted her Oscar for On the Waterfront, she was nine months pregnant with her first child. She is one of six actresses to accept their awards that far along and said in her acceptance speech: “I may have the baby right here.” Luckily, she didn’t go into labor on stage—but she was cutting it very close: her son was born just a couple of days later.

Eva Marie Saint FactsFlickr

10. Take It Slow

According to Saint, nobody really anticipated On the Waterfront to win so many awards at the Oscars, but when it became apparent that Saint was likely to win, her husband Hayden gave her some key advice. He said: “Honey, my God, if your name is called, you’ve got to count 10 seconds before you stand up, because you can’t run up there this pregnant.”

Alfred Hitchcock factsLibreShot

11. What Hitchcock Wants, Hitchcock Gets

When famed director Alfred Hitchcock was choosing roles for his new movie North by Northwest, he stunned everyone when he chose the still relatively untried Saint to play the role of the femme fatale in the movie. Saint starred alongside Hollywood heavyweights Cary Grant and James Mason in the film, beating out dozens of hopeful actresses.

Alfred Hitchcock factsGetty Images

12. Too Many Cooks

Cary Grant, MGM Studios, and Alfred Hitchcock actually all had different opinions on who should star opposite Grant in North by Northwest. While Hitchcock wanted and eventually got Saint, Grant wanted bombshell actress Sophia Loren to play his love interest, and the studio was trying to woo the graceful and elegant Cyd Charisse.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikimedia Commons

13. Kept Woman

North by Northwest was definitely a juicy career opportunity for Saint, but it also required great sacrifice. Hitchcock was a notoriously demanding director, and he asked Saint to chop off her long, waist-length blonde hair into a chic bob to get the part. He also requested that she speak in a lower, raspier voice than her natural tenor, and personally chose her costumes, saying, "I wanted her dressed like a kept woman."

Alfred Hitchcock factsGetty Images

14. Credit Where It's Due

Whatever the cost of filming the thriller, it paid off for Saint. Critics praised her performance as tense, engaging, and demonstrating a new side to the ingenue. One critic in particular even noted that, "Mr. Hitchcock has plumbed some talents not shown by the actress heretofore." Yep, we're sure that was all Hitchcock's doing.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikimedia Commons

15. Shying Away From Stardom

For the back half of the 1950s, Eva Marie Saint was the name on everybody's lips—but many wonder why she didn't become even more famous after. It was her own heartbreaking choice: She turned down many movie roles in order to put her family first. When her frantic agent warned her sternly that she’d never be a superstar if she didn’t work more, she merely replied: “I guess I don’t want to be a super-superstar.”

Eva Marie Saint FactsShutterstock

16. An Awkward Meeting

While filming Raintree Country, Saint decided to invite her handsome co-star Montgomery Clift to lunch so they could get to know one another. It was a total disaster. Both talented actors were luminous on camera, but excruciatingly shy behind the lens. As a result, they hardly spoke at all during the sit down meal, and Saint left feeling embarrassed.

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

17. Tearing It up

One of Saint’s biggest earliest acting challenges was making herself cry in a scene. The combination of being shy in crowds and coming from a large family where members didn’t cry in front of one another made emotional intimacy an enormous, intimidating barrier for her. When she finally got it, not only did Saint cry, her peers were crying too.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikimedia Commons

18. Hometown Girl

When it came to the final choice of actress to play Edie in On the Waterfront, it was a toss-up between Saint and Elizabeth Montgomery, known best for playing the main character on Bewitched. In the end, director Elia Kazan felt Montgomery was too well-bred to pull off a character who was raised on the waterfront in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Saint, on the other hand, was a true Jersey girl:  she was born less than 30 minutes away in Newark.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikipedia

19. Rebel, Rebel

The angelic-looking Saint was once almost kicked out of her apartment for bad behavior. Her landlady only had three rules: No boys, no smokes, and no booze. When Saint got free beer as payment after filming a commercial for a beer company, her landlady spotted the loot and threatened to throw her out on the streets.

Saint had to quickly sweet-talk the woman, and she assured her that she would be giving the beer to her father.

Eva Marie Saint FactsShutterstock

20. Too Much Me

With a face like that, it's no wonder that Saint did some modeling as a struggling actress—but she absolutely hated it. As she explained in an interview, modeling didn’t allow her to be anyone other than herself, and that inability to create a different person made her painfully self-conscious. She did everything she could to avoid these kind of gigs.

Eva Marie Saint FactsPixabay

21. Same Husband, Different Wives

After starring in North by Northwest, Saint joined the dubious pantheon of "Hitchcock Blondes," many of whom have gone on record about Hitchcock's controlling, disturbing behavior on set. Saint, however, didn't see eye-to-eye with these accounts, and admitted that the dissonance made her feel like they were “all talking about the same husband” and all of them were “the different wives.”

Movie Industry factsGetty Images

22. Good Advice

If it weren't for a twist of fate, Saint may never have become a Hitchcock Blonde. She was initially unimpressed with the script for North by Northwest, and might have turned it down were it not for some sound advice from her husband. He said: “Honey, I think you should find a quiet spot...I want you to really think about this and reread this script.”

She did, and soon realized that he was absolutely right.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikipedia

23. The Famous Red Dress

One of Saint’s favorite movie costumes ever was the black dress with the red roses that she wore in North by Northwest. She acquired the famous dress when she accompanied Hitchcock on a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman to pick up some additional clothes for her character in the movie. When the models brought the dress out, Saint expressed her delight, leading Hitchcock to tell them to wrap it up.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikipedia

24. Good Job, Me!

When asked if she ever watches her own movies, Saint replied “Sometimes I do. And I think, Well, gee. You did that? Good job!” A little self-congratulation never hurt anybody.

Eva Marie Saint FactsMax Pixel

25. Everybody Heard!

Just before her live interview on Person to Person, Saint realized she had to go to the bathroom. What hadn’t occurred to her was that all of the sound gear was already set up, and that her mic was live. After the show, the producer Don Hewitt informed her that he had plugged her into stations across the network, and that everybody in the country had just heard her pee.

Now that’s an embarrassing moment!

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

26. A Family Affair

When Saint took a role in Exodus, which required her to film in Europe for three months, she literally made it a family affair. She secured permission to bring her husband, her parents, and her mother-in-law to help look after her two young children while she was working. At this point, director Otto Preminger quipped, “Well, I guess you have your own exodus, don’t you?”

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

27. Keds Are Keen!

One of Saint’s early television appearances was on the variety show Campus Hoopla. The show was set in a soda shop, and Saint’s role was as a cheerleader who did live Keds sneaker commercials on the program.

Eva Marie Saint FactsFlickr

28. Live on Television

In the early days of television, actors would perform live plays with unexpected and embarrassing results. One time, as Saint remembers, she was changing clothes during a commercial break when an NBC tour passed through and caught her in just a bra. Taking the experience in stride, Saint just waved at the group before continuing to change.

Penelope Cruz FactsShutterstock

29. Doubly Honored

In the early days of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, stars weren’t restricted to just a single star and could be given a star in more than one category.  Saint has the distinction of being honored with two stars—one for television, and one for film—a feat tha has become increasingly rare in the last couple of decades.

Eva Marie Saint FactsShutterstock

30. A Career Highlight

For actor Colin Farrell, the chance to work alongside Eva Marie Saint in the 2014 film Winter’s Tale was one of the highlights of his career. He has often expressed his admiration of stars like Peter O’Toole and Elizabeth Taylor, and described working with Saint as “a dream”, and “one of the most incredible experiences.”

He went on to say how much he adored her as a person and was “really spoiled” to be able to spend time with her on the set.

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

31. Choosing Her Roles

As she’s gotten older, Saint’s film appearances have gotten more infrequent, largely because Hollywood doesn’t create a lot of roles for older women. She agrees wholeheartedly with Angela Lansbury’s sentiment that as you get older, finding roles becomes more difficult, and she refuses to take parts that show older people as handicapped or neurotic.

These days, she’ll only pick a role if she is playing a strong character who “still makes a difference in the world.”

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

32. Perfecting Her Craft

Like many of the stars of her era, Saint got her acting education from the Actor’s Studio, which was founded as a workshop for actors, directors, and writers. The prestigious and long-running studio has also boasted members like Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, and Dennis Hopper. She was in fine company!

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikipedia

33. 40-Year Wait

Unlike her Oscar, an Emmy win didn't come quickly for Saint. In her six-decade television career, Saint didn’t win a single Emmy until her fifth nomination in 1990. She was first nominated for an Emmy in 1955 for The Philco Television Playhouse, and earned three other nominations before finally winning for the miniseries People like Us.

Rod Serling factsShutterstock

34. Older Than the Oscars

In 2018, Saint presented the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, and she sarcastically joked about being older than the Oscars. This was her first time back at the ceremony in 64 years: The last time she was there was the star-studded night she won the academy award for Best Supporting Actress in On the Waterfront. 

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

35. Goals

One might think that Saint had accomplished everything she wanted to and more in Hollywood, but there is still one thing on her acting bucket list—doing a voice-over for a Pixar movie. To date, that dream hasn’t become a reality, but she did get to do a voice-over for the animated Nickelodeon series The Legend of Kora, which is almost as good, right?

The Little Mermaid factsWikimedia Commons, tom.arthur

36. How About Lunch?

Saint met dashing television director and producer Jeffrey Hayden after he spotted the blonde beauty in 1949, standing in the subway passage underneath the Rockefeller Center. From the moment he set eyes on her, he was completely smitten—but Saint had a very different reaction. When Hayden first asked her out for coffee, she refused: she didn't drink it.

When Hayden tried again and asked her for lunch, she gave in.

Eva Marie Saint FactsShutterstock

37. Beating the Odds

In an industry where high-profile breakups and late-night hookups are common, Eva Marie Saint and Jeffrey Hayden were a fairy tale romance. They were together for 65 years, and remained faithful to each other and utterly in love for their entire marriage. They had two children together and enjoyed playing with three grandchildren.

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

38. Til Death Do Us Part

After marrying, Saint and Hayden really were only parted in death. Hayden passed on in 2016 at the ripe old age of 90 and after a long and loving life beside his wife.

Zsa Zsa Gabor factsShutterstock

39. Favorite Leading Man

Throughout her career, Saint has had the opportunity to star with screen legends such as Cary Grant and Marlon Brando, who she describes as the finest actor she’s ever worked with. That said, according to Saint, there was only one Hollywood man who claimed the top of her list: her late husband, Jeffrey Hayden.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikipedia

40. If You Want Something Done...

During the filming of Exodus, director Otto Preminger was unhappy with how a kissing scene involving Saint was turning out. Shockingly, he didn't try to explain it to his actors—he did something much more disturbing. Preminger strode over to Saint, elbowed her co-star Paul Newman out of the way, and kissed her himself to demonstrate how he wanted it done.

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

41. Just Don’t Step on Him

For her big kissing scene with Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Saint confessed that she had just one thing on her mind—not stepping on his toes. As it turned out, Grant got so involved in the kissing scene that he ended up falling off a ladder. Thankfully he didn’t get hurt, and as an added bonus, they got to do it again.

Eva Marie Saint FactsWikimedia Commons

42. Make Believe

Director Elia Kazan was, according to Saint, the best directors she ever worked with, and he helped her out with a key love scene in On the Waterfront. Saint recalls being in her slip and feeling a little bit self-conscious, so Kazan came over to her and whispered something intimate to her: he said her husband’s name.

That did the trick, and Saint was able to complete the scene by pretending that Brando was her beloved husband.

Eva Marie Saint FactsGetty Images

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.