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Peggy Robertson; Personal Assistant to Hitchcock

February 12, 1998|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Peggy Robertson, Alfred Hitchcock's personal assistant who worked on his motion pictures for more than 30 years, has died. She was 81.

Robertson died Friday at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills after a long illness.

Born in London, Robertson was working as a script supervisor at England's Denham Studios when she met Hitchcock. She supervised the script for his "Under Capricorn" at the Elstreet Studios in 1948 and began working for him permanently a year later when he returned to England to make "Stage Fright."

As script supervisor and chief assistant for story selection, casting, shooting and previewing, Robertson worked with Hitchcock on such classic films as "Vertigo," "North by Northwest," "Psycho," "The Birds," "Marnie," "Topaz" and "Family Plot."

Her meticulous notes have been cited by film scholars over the years to settle controversies about Hitchcock and how he worked. A Times critic wrote that Hitchcock required up to 24 retakes on the scene in "Vertigo" in which James Stewart rescues Kim Novak from a studio tank (the San Francisco Bay on film). No, countered a student of Hitchcock, Robertson's notes showed only four--the first discarded because of a problem with Stewart's hair, the second because he paused in his dive and the third because of an incorrect match with the way he lifted her in the location footage.

Robertson also assisted Hitchcock on his television series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."

After Hitchcock's death in 1980, she became associate producer to Peter Bogdanovich. She continued making her notes on Hollywood history through his films "Illegally Yours" and "Mask."

Robertson is survived by her sister, Hazel Singer of London.

Memorial donations may be made to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, 29300 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364-1031.

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