Friday, December 11, 2009

Katharine Hepburn: the woman, the romantic

This entry was written for the Katharine Hepburn Blog-a-Thon over at Encore Entertainment.

On-screen, Katharine Hepburn epitomized independence, intelligence, and talent.

But off-screen, she was human, even a romantic. In Hepburn's autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, I connected with an actress without a script in sight. Her autobiography may not be a literary masterpiece by any means, but it is achingly personal and extraordinarily touching.

Hepburn was often a fiesty spitfire on screen, yet her off-screen persona was merely a reflection of that. Deep down, she was just as vulnerable as the rest of us.

Hepburn grew up in an educated, progressive family. She was the first to discover her brother's dead body, presumably a suicide. After her divorce from her supportive husband, she felt a sense of guilt that she finally repaired towards the end of his life. She also had to overcome a tough "box office poison" phase, which ended with the success of classic romantic comedy, The Philadelphia Story.

Behind the scenes of Woman of the Year, Hepburn and Spencer Tracy fell in love. Tracy was married. The affair created quite a scandal, yet in Hepburn's autobiography, she didn't feel any sense of regret. It is widely understood that Tracy and Hepburn's romance was not perfect, but in her autobiography, Hepburn wanted to remember the affair the way she wanted it to remember it. Tracy was a complex man, but Hepburn saw him as her greatest object of affection. Like us, she wanted to believe that they were indeed soul mates.

While Me is far from a Hollywood tell-all, it is an engaging window into the life of one of the silver screen's most iconic, striking film stars and the industry she lived in. Hepburn may not have been the most eloquent writer, but I have a feeling that she was one helluva conversationalist.


  1. She was a talker in this. And I remember all those pictures, which was part of the highlight for me in the book. Thanks.

  2. Have you seen her interview on The Dick Cavett Show?

  3. Can you imagine what it would be like just to sit and have a converation with her - it would have been fascinating!