Teary Griffith Mourns Dad's Death

Actress Melanie Griffith wept at a Cannes Film Festival dinner given in honor of her career achievement, noting that the recent death of her father was foremost on her mind.

Griffith, 43, cried as she gave an acceptance speech in front of nearly 200 guests. "You're making me remember other years and other times," she told the audience. "Among the people who shared those years with me there's one very important one, and today he is not here."

Griffith, the daughter of Alfred Hitchcock starlet Tippi Hedren and businessman Peter Griffith, suffered a blow when she learned recently that her father had died of complications from emphysema. Many wondered whether she would be able to make it to the French Riviera in order to be the guest of honor at her tribute gala.

"It's hard not to see out there the proud face of my father," the usually perky star said in her acceptance speech, which was punctuated by sobbing. "Somehow, I know you're here, Dad, and I know your smile is big and, you old cowboy, I know you're up there saying, 'Why are you wearing that dress?'"

Griffith, who was wearing a slinky purple evening gown, and her actor husband, Antonio Banderas, later presented the Palme D'Or (the festival's top prize) to Italian director Nanni Moretti for The Son's Room, a heart-wrenching study of a family devastated by a death.

Griffith gave special thanks to Banderas, whose name is prominently tattooed on her upper arm. "I'd like to thank Antonio for loving me and showing me what unconditional love really means," she said to applause.

Griffith's mother was a 21-year-old model when she wed Peter Griffith in 1952. The pair divorced in 1961. Hedren was discovered when Hitchcock saw her in a commercial, and she went on to star in his psychological thrillers The Birds and Marnie.

Griffith's next project is Stuart Little 2, in which she does the voice of a bird. Besides that, she is taking it easy. "I'm not doing much of anything. I'm doing a lot of thinking," she said.

Reuters contributed to this story.