As a child, Hitchcock knew she wanted to be an actress. In the early 1940s, she began acting on the stage and doing summer stock. She performed in Broadway productions of Solitaire (1942) and Violet (1944).
After graduating from Marymount High School in Los Angeles in 1947, she attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and also appeared on the London stage. In early 1949, her parents arrived to make Hitchcock's first feature motion picture in England since going to Hollywood. Pat did not know she would have a walk-on in the movie until her parents arrived. Because she bore a resemblance to the star, Jane Wyman, her father asked if she would mind also doubling for Wyman in the scenes that required "danger driving."
She had small roles in three of her father's movies: Stage Fright (1950) in which she played a jolly acting student named Chubby Bannister, one of Wyman's school chums; Strangers on a Train (1951), playing Barbara Morton, future sister-in-law of Guy Haines (Farley Granger), and Psycho (1960), playing Janet Leigh's plain-Jane office-mate, Caroline, who generously offers to share tranquilizers that her mother gave her for her wedding night.
She married Joseph E. O'Connell, Jr., January 17, 1952, at Our Lady Chapel in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. They decided to have their wedding there because Pat had many friends on the East Coast and Joe had relatives in Boston.
As well as appearing in ten episodes of her father's half-hour television program, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hitchcock worked on a few others, including Playhouse 90, which was live, directed by John Frankenheimer. Acting for her father, however, remained the high point of her acting career, which she interrupted to raise her children. (Hitchcock has a small joke with her first appearance on his show -- after saying good night and exiting the screen, he sticks his head back into the picture and remarks: "I thought the little leading lady was rather good, didn't you?") She also served as executive producer of the documentary The Man on Lincoln's Nose (2000), which is about Robert F. Boyle and his contribution to motion pictures.
She supplied family photos and wrote the foreword of the book Footsteps in the Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco by Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal, which was published in 2002. In 2003, she published Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind the Man, co-written with Laurent Bouzereau.
Patricia and Joseph O'Connell currently live in Solvang, California. Mrs. O'Connell is an annual major sponsor of the Menlo Charity Horse Show.