By Allen Kane, Former Director, National Postal Museum

Alfred Hitchcock Stamp

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32-cent Alfred Hitchcock stamp

Previous Legends of Hollywood postage stamps had honored prominent screen actors, but the fourth in the series honored a director, Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980). The 32-cent stamp design features a black and white photographic portrait. In addition, his famous caricature self-portrait appears in the upper-left corner. The trademark profile was laser cut rather than printed, the first U.S. stamp die cut with paper removed using this special effect. A five-pointed, star-shaped perforation replaced the standard round perforation at the stamp’s corners. The USPS sold the stamps in panes of twenty and uncut press sheets of six panes.

Approximately nine months before its issue on October 29, 1997, I announced the forthcoming commemorative at the Hollywood Gramaun's Theater in Los Angeles, California. His daughter Patricia Hitchcock; screen star Janet Leigh; Jean Picker Firstenberg, director and CEO of the American Film Institute (AFI); and a room full of Hollywood notables were in attendance. Patricia noted that her father always appeared for a brief moment in his films and hoped that “this stamp makes cameo appearances on cards, letters, and in stamp collections nationwide.” Following speeches, the audience watched his film Psycho.

Master of suspense, Hitchcock directed more than fifty films, including The 39 Steps (1935), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963). His weekly television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents ran from 1955 for ten years. Hitchcock received many honors during his lifetime, including five Oscar nominations as best director, the Irving G. Thalberg memorial award at the Academy Awards, the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Emmy awards. Born in England, in 1955 he became an American citizen. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in the last year of his life.

The First Day ceremony for the Hitchcock issue took place at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles on August 3, 1998. Once again, movie stars and dignitaries filled the auditorium to honor the legendary director. Richard Sheaff designed the stamp. On the selvage of the stamp pane the USPS noted that “no other filmmaker has so successfully and subtly blended private concerns with themes of universal significance.”