In researching the various contradictory “lives” of Alfred Hitchcock—the private and public iterations of one of the 20th century’s most expert self-mythologizers—it was fascinating to read the letters he received from his remarkably varied audiences: from young children to the elderly, academics, left-field cinephiles, and prime-time-TV-watchers.

The most interesting mail (held in the archives of the Margaret Herrick Library, in Beverly Hills) dates from the late 50s and early 60s. Hitchcock was then at his commercial peak, thanks to the success of his television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which heightened his fame and made him a prominent figure in the cultural lives of children. He was contacted by kids from all over the world, although, outside the U.S., he was especially popular in Germany.