Dealing with death was something Alfred Hitchcock had problems with. The first one was his father's, which spelled extra trouble for him. To that point, he had the privilege of being a child, sheltered from financial woes. When William Hitchcock died, Alfred had to do what adults do - find a job to sustain himself.
A loner by nature, the director still had many friends. And since he lived a relatively long life, he outlived most of them. As he grew older, Hitch became isolated more and more and every death seemed to take bigger toll.
His health was worsening by the minute too. As Hitchcock has grown older, he developed a heart condition and suffered from arthritis. However, the worst was his kidney failure. He knew all about the dangers that it brings, after all his mother Emma Jane suffered from it as well and her kidney was one of main culprits of her death.
In his last days, he enjoyed rather cosy conditions. His wife Alma was mentally absent at times and only partly understood what's going on around her, but was still alive and in no pain. He had money. Lew Wasserman took great care of him and kept his office open at Universal despite it being of no use - no real work was being done anymore. People working there were also ready to help Alfred when something was needed. Many friends came to visit to cheer him up.
That didn't help much though and many reported him breaking down in tears, scared of the fact that soon he will be gone. What must have made the situation even worse is that Hitch had always had a certain amount of pride that was probably stemming from lack of confidence. He didn't want people to see him as weak and vulnerable and always strived to maintain an image of someone who can function on his own and maintain himself.
He wasn't an egomaniac that strived to be perceived as some kind of a superhero, just basic common independence was enough. But anything below that was unacceptable and at that stage of his life, there was no way of hiding his vulnerability.
The director's isolation from people that grew proportionally to his health problems might be the direct result of physical illness dragging his mental condition down. On the other hand, it could as well be caused by him being afraid of friends finding out that he's not doing well. If that was the case, it was an absurd anticipation, as it looked like his friends were wonderful and supportive and the only person judging the director would be the director himself.
One last giant honor awaited him in 1979, as then great news came from London. Alfred Hitchcock was to become Sir Alfred Hitchcock! There had been some gossip about him being knighted and he had been confronted about it in few interviews, but they were just that: rumors. On December 31, 1979, those rumors became reality.
As Hitch's health didn't allow far travels, he attended a mini-ceremony few years later in Los Angeles. Lew Wasserman and some of the biggest stars that had played in his movies attended the event to celebrate with sir Alfred.
Near the end of his life, things got so bad that even his closest friends, who so far had been accepted, were now pushed aside, avoided, and when they came to pay a visit - screamed at and insulted for no reason. In spite of that, some of them kept coming back.
After few days of plain lying in his own bed at his main US residence house in Bellagio Road, come morning of April 29, 1980, Alfred Hitchcock passed away. Official record states 9:17AM as the time of death. Despite Hitchcock casting himself aside from everyone, the house was sparkling with life - at the time of his passing, his wife Alma, daughter Pat, Katey O’Connell, Jack Nickel's and Jerry Stone's wives were all present at the house.
As a place for the funeral mass, Church of the Good Shepherd was chosen. It is a small local church located close to the Hitchcock house. Jean Renoir, another famous director from Europe who had spent his last moments in Beverly Hills, had his funeral mass there one year earlier.
I am deeply saddened by the death of my close friend and colleague, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, whose death today at his home deprives us all of a great artist and an even greater human being. Almost every tribute paid to sir Alfred In the past by film critics and historians has emphasized his continuing influence in the world of film. It is that continuing influence, embodied in the magnificent series of films he has given the world, during the last half-century, that will preserve his great spirit, his humor, and his wit, not only for us but for succeeding generations of filmgoers. My condolences, as well as those of all of us who were associated with sir Alfred at MCA/Universal, go to Lady Hitchcock and the other members of sir Alfred’s family.Lew Wasserman
Six hundred people were invited to accommodate church's full capacity. The eulogy was delivered by Lew Wasserman and the list was filled with famous names. Many people that were connected to the director one way or the other showed up. Among them were: Janet Leigh (Psycho), Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marnie), Karl Malden (I Confess) and Louis Jourdan (Paradine Case). Francois Truffaut, a life-long friend who made a great set of interviews published in a book format (Amazon), was also there.
Many people found out about sir Alfred's death and came to pay tribute. Universal Studios organized security at the church, which only let in people who got official invitations.
Father Thomas Sullivan, who was Hitch's friend and sometimes paid him visits, conducted the mass at 10 AM. There was no coffin present at the funeral. On May 8, exactly one year after his Universal bungalow was closed, a special funeral mass was conducted in London at Westminster Cathedral.
Just like his wife, Hitch wished for his body to be cremated and ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.