Tippi Hedren leaves her stamp on films and -- envelopes!

"ALWAYS make the audience suffer as much as possible," said Alfred Hitchcock.

TIPPI HEDREN, the star of two of Alfred Hitchcock's most fascinating films -- "The Birds" and "Marnie" -- will receive a Commemorative Envelope and Stamp, designed in her honor. This happens in Omaha, Nebraska, Friday, Nov. 7, when the U.S. postmaster will dedicate the post office the "Tippi Hedren Station" for the day.

Miss Hedren has made much of her "abuse" at the hands of Mr. Hitchcock in recent years -- an entire movie was based on her tribulations. No one is alive to defend the director. Hitchcock was a strange one and Miss Hedren has the right to remember him as she pleases. One hopes she doesn't forget that had it not been for Hitch, she most assuredly wouldn't be on a stamp. She was deliciously and weirdly perfect for her two Hitchcock roles. Not so much for anything else.

Tippi was far more successful and influential as an animal rights advocate than she was as an actress.

CAROL CHANNING is going back to San Francisco. The great star's career began in Frisco, and she will return for one night only with Tommy Tune for "Time Steppin" on Nov 8 at the legendary Curran Theatre.

It will be a night of stories and conversations chronicling the life and career of Ms. Channing. Tommy, whom Carol describes as her "spiritual son," will moderate.

The "conversation" intends to cover everything from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" to "Hello, Dolly" to Thoroughly Modern Millie" and beyond -- to this very day! (I saw Channing on the night of her final revival of "Hello, Dolly" back in 1994. That old adage about the "rafters shaking" was never so true. The audience was in a state of hysteria. Even Channing, who certainly expected a great ovation, looked stunned. She wept, and then the place really went crazy.)

Suggestion for Tommy Tune: Ask Carol about her delectable 1961 one-woman revue, "Show Girl." This was a smashing bit of business with songs and sketches conceived by Charles Gaynor. (Carol was nominated for a Tony.) It co-starred Jules Munshin.

You haven't lived -- or experienced Carol at her outre best -- until you have heard "The Girl who Lived in Montparnasse" or "The Story of Marie." The entire thing is a riot. And it finally made its way to CD a while back, via Kritzerland Records.

PENELOPE CRUZ is on the cover of Esquire for November. She is touted as "The Sexiest Woman Alive." I feel this is somewhat exclusive and limiting. Who is the "Sexiest Woman Dead"?

Anyway, Miss Cruz is not the hottest woman story in Esquire. That bouquet belongs to Hillary Clinton. Writer Charles P. Pierce declares "Hillary is Not a Shoo-In" Pierce posits the not inconceivable notion that for some reason Mrs. Clinton might not run. Where are the Democrats then? (Especially considering yesterday's mid-term results.)

He writes: "To elect a president, we probably ought to have some candidates. Candidates, after all, are choices. So where are our choices?"

This entire article bears close reading by all Democrats ... and Mrs. Clinton.

SUGGESTION FROM a reader: "The next Bill O'Reilly "Killing" book should be Bobby Kennedy. Bobby's assassination in 1968 has generated almost as much mystery as his brother, JFK." That's a good idea!

I have one, as well. What about "Killing Marilyn Monroe"? I don't actually believe Marilyn was murdered, but it seems 99 percent of people today do, so why not?

ENDQUOTE: Joan Crawford: "I'd like to slap your face."

John Garfield: "Why don't you try it?"

Joan: (smashes her drinking glass against the wall, furiously.)

Just one of the many gloriously over-the-top moments in Crawford's big 1946 hit, "Humoresque." This is now out on DVD in a set that includes, "Mildred Pierce," "Possessed" and "The Damned Don't Cry." These are four of Crawford's very best Warner Bros. films, as Joan transformed her image from glossy MGM star to hard-boiled Warners broad. (She would become increasingly tough as the decades passed -- a petite dominatrix with helmet hair and terrifying eyebrows.)

"Humoresque" may stand as her best performance. Certainly, it captures her many stellar moods more beautifully than any other of her films. (And remember, Crawford had been a star since silent films.) Dressed to the teeth, drinking like a gorgeous fish, spitting out her bitter dialogue, you just can't look away. ("I was married twice before. Once at 16, once at 21. One was a crybaby, the other was a caveman. Between the two of them I said goodbye to girlhood.")

Not even John Garfield, as a snarling violinist, can steal a scene. Crawford's magnificent close-ups are accentuated by the music of Dvorak and (most appropriately) Wagner.

The finale to this unapologetic soaper was so striking that Madonna paid homage to it in her "Power of Good-Bye" video some years ago.

Try to forget the probably exaggerated personal tales. Crawford was a star of stars and a real professional. She deserves to be remembered for her work. None of us had to live with her.

(E-mail Liz Smith at