Katharine Hepburn’s Fangirls: A Birthday Tribute


In which I interview fangirls about how Katharine Hepburn has inspired them…

 

Happy Birthday and Christopher Columbus, Katharine Hepburn! (GIF)

Classic movie fans who grew up without the internet know what a lonely life it can be loving movies that were made before our parents were even born. I feel like I was the only person in my high school (of 4,000+ students) who knew the difference between Katharine and Audrey and who could quote from the film version of practically every school play we put on.

But social media has brought all of us film nerd together in a magical way. First I met fellow bloggers who shared my passion for classic flicks. Then #TCMParty on Twitter gave me some virtual friends to watch movies with. My latest discovery has been a number of Facebook groups – whole communities of fans who get together to geek out over old movies.

Movie Bloggers Network

Golden Age of Hollywood

FlickChick’s Movie Playground

Celluloid Heroes

CMBA Private Screening Room

There are even two awesome Facebook groups devoted exclusively to Katharine Hepburn (in addition to my own FB page The Great Katharine Hepburn)! One group is called Katharine Hepburn With an “A” and the other is With Love: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The people on these pages are as nerdy over Katharine Hepburn as I am – some even more so. They love to share juicy internet finds related to Hepburn, including rare images, newspaper articles, anecdotes, biographies, and all manner of KH paraphernalia.

The following women are among the most enthusiastic Katharine Hepburn fangirls I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. These are their stories.

 

 

Paige from North Brunswick, NJ, USA

 

PaigeWhat are your first ever Katharine Hepburn memories?

Watching THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)  and THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) with my mom.

If you could pick three Katharine Hepburn movies to share with your friends, which would they be and why?

HOLIDAY (1938) because it’s the Hepburn-Grant movie that I don’t think they know.
DESK SET (1957) because it’s the Hepburn-Tracy movie that I don’t think they know.
LOVE AMONG THE RUINS (1975) because it’s inspiring to see Olivier and Hepburn do something so majestic in a mere TV movie.

If you were alone in an elevator with Katharine Hepburn, what would you say to her?

I don’t think I’d be able to say anything.

In which of Katharine Hepburn’s residences would you like to live?

Turtle Bay house in NYC.

Why would you like to live there?

No particular reason other than I love New York City and the connection with Ms. Hepburn would give it so much more meaning.

Which of Katharine Hepburn’s co-stars would you want to date?

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy was something very special, smart and funny and so supremely talented but haunted all the same. I love Bogart and Grant and Stewart and Olivier, but they can’t hold a candle to Mr. Tracy for me.

What is your favourite Katharine Hepburn anecdote or trivia fact?

I was writing a story for a local newspaper about a man who collected autographs, had thousands of them. And one was Ms. Hepburn’s. And I asked him how he got it and he said that she wrote him a letter that said she didn’t sign autographs, but she signed the letter. So he gave me the address and I wrote her a letter, just expressing appreciation for her as a person and an actress. And I got my letter back signed. It’s my most treasured possession.

Paige pic

Why is this your favourite picture of Katharine Hepburn?

Because she’s magic with Spencer Tracy and this shot is so fun and serious at the same time.

Which are your favourite Katharine Hepburn biographies?

“Me: Stories of My Life” by Katharine Hepburn
“Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir” by Garson Kanin
“A Remarkable Woman” by Anne Edwards

I have most of them, and those are the ones I’ve returned to the most. Just hearing the Tracy-Hepburn stories was amazing, even though Ms. Hepburn was incensed that book was written. Me was by her, have to love that! And A Remarkable Woman was the first one I ever read.

For which movie role that didn’t earn her an Academy Award do you think Katharine Hepburn deserved an Oscar?

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)

Favourite Katharine Hepburn quote:

“I don’t care what is written about me as long as it isn’t true.”

 

Beth Palucka from Pennsylvania, USA

 

BethWhat are your first ever Katharine Hepburn memories?

I remember looking up who this GORGEOUS woman was and watching her rearrange furniture on the Cavett show. From there, I was hooked on this lady!

If you could pick three Katharine Hepburn movies to share with your friends, which would they be and why?

ADAM’S RIB (1949): For obvious feminism reasons, the fact that it’s my favorite, and for the fact that her chemistry with Spence is so amazing in that movie.
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940): Because that’s the movie that rescued her career. Not to mention she looked gorgeous.
And the go to ON GOLDEN POND (1981): It’s a feel good movie.

If you were alone in an elevator with Katharine Hepburn, what would you say to her?

If I could manage words, I would tell her how much she’s saved me in life. I would tell her how she makes me smile with her movies/pictures. I would tell her how I think she’s a queen, and hear her laugh at that.

In which of Katharine Hepburn’s residences would you like to live?

Turtle Bay house in NYC.

New York seems like a great place, and it’s a 4 story house with a lot of room. A lot of celebrity guests stayed there too! I would’ve picked Fenwick, but they completely redid the inside and it doesn’t seem like Kate anymore.

Which of Katharine Hepburn’s co-stars would you want to date?

Spencer Tracy

I’d want to date Spence because he’s funny, and even though he wasn’t the easiest to deal with, he seems like a good companion. Next to KH, he’s my favorite! He needs to be researched more because he is misinterpreted so much.

What is your favourite Katharine Hepburn anecdote or trivia fact?

Not necessarily anecdotes, but I love that she’s a feminist and helped her mother do suffragette work. I love how much she cared for her friends & family. I love her unconditional love for Spencer. I love her take charge attitude.

bETH PICWhy is this your favourite picture of Katharine Hepburn?

Her smile is contagious. I love how in candid pictures her nose scrunches up …. A truly genuine smile. happiness.

Which are your favourite Katharine Hepburn biographies?

“Me: Stories of My Life” by Katharine Hepburn
“Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir” by Garson Kanin
“At Home with Kate” by Eileen Considine

For which movie role that didn’t earn her an Academy Award do you think Katharine Hepburn deserved an Oscar?

I think she did a great job in LITTLE WOMEN (1933) & deserved an Oscar for that versus MORNING GLORY (1933). For one of her earlier movies, her acting is superb!

Favourite Katharine Hepburn quote:

“The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is to move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.”

 

Frauke Schwerdt from Germany

 

FraukeWhat are your first ever Katharine Hepburn memories?

Watching the THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) at a friend’s place. She lives in another country and I visited her during my summer vacation.

If you could pick three Katharine Hepburn movies to share with your friends, which would they be and why?

BRINGING UP BABY (1938) – It’s a screwball classic, very funny, great cast, Katharine’s character is hilarious
THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) – A must see classic, again great cast
THE LION IN WINTER (1968) – Great performance by Katharine Hepburn, interesting story line

If you were alone in an elevator with Katharine Hepburn, what would you say to her?

I don’t know if I would be able to say anything. Maybe only a shy “Hello”.

In which of Katharine Hepburn’s residences would you like to live?

Fenwick

Fenwick looks great and not only Katharine but also the rest of the Hepburn family spent time there.

Which of Katharine Hepburn’s co-stars would you want to date?

Spencer Tracy
Cary Grant
Humphrey Bogart

Let’s face it they are all attractive and have character. They seem to be funny. And they care.

Frauke pic

Why is this your favourite picture of Katharine Hepburn?

It shows the real Kate. She’s wearing clothes she likes (slacks) and looks like she’s doing some thinking. I bet she thought a lot and was not superficial. She listened to people and valued their opinion.

What is your favourite Katharine Hepburn anecdote or trivia fact?

There are so many and I think they are all interesting. I like the story how she showed Michael Jackson how to do laundry.

Which are your favourite Katharine Hepburn biographies?

“Me: Stories of My Life” by Katharine Hepburn
“Marion Hepburn – A Biography”
James Curtis Biography about Spencer Tracy (I don’t know if that counts)

What is it you like about this bio/these bios?

They are self written/written by family members. The serious research and serious sources.

For which movie role that didn’t earn her an Academy Award do you think Katharine Hepburn deserved an Oscar?

SUMMERTIME (1955)

Favourite Katharine Hepburn quote:

“As one goes through life one learns if you don’t paddle your own canoe you don’t move.”

 

Virginie Pronovost from Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 

VirginieWhat are your first ever Katharine Hepburn memories?

The first time I saw Katharine Hepburn was in a book called “Les Stars de Cinéma”. At the time, I didn’t know a lot about classic movie stars, but I thought the pictures in the book were very nice and bought it. I was looking at it with my mother and then we came to some of Katharine Hepburn’s pictures. She didn’t know her very well either, but she told me that she was a great actress. That’s my first Kate Hepburn memory.

If you could pick three Katharine Hepburn movies to share with your friends, which would they be and why?

The first one would be BRINGING UP BABY (1938), because it’s my favourite. This film is so funny, there are so many great moments. Second one would be THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940). That would be for the marvellous casting and because it’s really the movie that made me discover her (however, the first one I saw was HOLIDAY (1938)). Then, my third choice would be THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951). Very different from the two others. Love her duet with Humphrey Bogart and I think it’s so interesting to see Kate in a more adventurous film.

If you were alone in an elevator with Katharine Hepburn, what would you say to her?

Honestly, I’ll probably turn all red and laugh very awkwardly. But I will have to say something as it would be a chance in a lifetime. Well, I’ll tell her that I admire her work and that I’m so pleased to met her. I would like to say much more, but a trip in elevator is not very long… except if there’s a breakdown. That’s another story.

Oh, and I would love to ask her for an autograph, but, knowing myself, I’ll probably be too shy ask.

In which of Katharine Hepburn’s residences would you like to live?

Turtle Bay house in NYC

I must admit, I don’t know much about Katharine Hepburn’s houses. So I looked at some pictures and this one was charming. This seems to have a beautiful backyard and it’s in New York, a city I love.

Which of Katharine Hepburn’s co-stars would you want to date?

Jimmy Stewart

Because he is my favourite actor and seems to be a swell man.

Virginie pic

Why is this your favourite picture of Katharine Hepburn?

It’s hard to choose only one! But I’ve always loved very much this picture of Kate and Spencer in WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942). That was their first movie together. There is so much love in this picture, real love. I just adore the way she looks at him. Her eyes are sparkling and we can see there is a great complicity between the two. They were not only acting.

What is your favourite Katharine Hepburn anecdote or trivia fact?

I don’t know if we can call it an anecdote or a trivia fact, but her love story with Spencer Tracy is something I admire very much. This proves us what REAL love is. Ms. Hepburn did not attend his funeral by respect for his family. She really was a great lady.

Which are your favourite Katharine Hepburn biographies?

I must admit, I haven’t read a Kate Hapburn’s biography yet. 🙁 I know it’s a shame, but I would like very much to read “Me: Stories of My Life”.

What is it you like about this bio/these bios?

Can’t really answer the question as I’ve read none of them.

For which movie role that didn’t earn her an Academy Award do you think Katharine Hepburn deserved an Oscar?

I think I’ll go with THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) with all my respect to Vivien Leigh who won this year and also deserved her Oscar (A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)). I chose THE AFRICAN QUEEN because we can see she put to much energy in her acting and was really convincing.

Favourite Katharine Hepburn quote:

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”

 

Olivia Hughes from Alberta, Canada

 

OliviaWhat are your first ever Katharine Hepburn memories?

I was 15, or just about. I was crawling out of a very deep suicidal depression with the help of Deborah Kerr, and suddenly there was this indomitable woman there on my screen telling me to be strong.
To get up.
Wipe the tears away.
To live, damn it all!

She taught me how to have self respect for myself again.

If you could pick three Katharine Hepburn movies to share with your friends, which would they be and why?

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)! Because I think every single person on the planet should watch this film, and memorize it. Too much?

HOLIDAY (1938) (I just think it’s swell) and her and Cary flip a couch.

and DESK SET (1957) (because older people fall in love too).

Now these aren’t necessarily what I deem her BEST movies, however I have a very classless group of friends (none of these other fine ladies of course) but other ingrates who would never appreciate THE GLASS MENAGERIE (1973), or SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER (1959), for instance.

If you were alone in an elevator with Katharine Hepburn, what would you say to her?

Are you joking? The timer of the floors going up or down would sound like small explosions in my head so demanding and bad that I’d either faint into a permanent coma, or seize so badly I’d break my head open.

Screaming internally that I didn’t have time, and the earth feeling like it’s falling out from under me, and the roof like it’s caving in, and her looking so damn calm, and judging me, and I’m all sweaty and freaking the hell out.

AND YOU WANT ME TO TALK?!?!

In which of Katharine Hepburn’s residences would you like to live?

Turtle Bay house in NYC

New York. HELLO.

The iron wrought gate, the depressed doorway, the way everything was small enough to be an apartment but large enough to seem as though a mansion. It all just sounds so perfect. A place no one would guess was a celebrities, totally immersed in the street life. While containing inside treasure.

It just sounds magical.

Do you want to go to Hogwarts? No f*cking Turtle Bay NYC if you don’t mind. Pssht.

Which of Katharine Hepburn’s co-stars would you want to date?

Cary Grant

Why would you want to date this man/these men?

Apparently I can’t insert a picture here.

125283029 - kh surveyWhy is this your favourite picture of Katharine Hepburn?

God just look at it.

This woman.

Heralded for her youth and beauty, and talent.

And for no publicity reason. Simply a shoot, she wears a sheet around her breasts, her links and wrinkles and dimples and messy hair bared and showing to everyone. She looks so sunk into her skin, so alive with it and happy with all it;s done.

Her hair is worn and grey and obviously thrown up by herself in her way. In that way. That perfect way. One which says “I’m here for my close up, and yes I’m ready because what else do you want ME to look like but ME?”

She was it. She is Katharine Hepburn. Not just the name, but Katie, and Kate, and Kat, (and other unmentionable embarrassing nicknames I’ve called her over the years.) She is the unmistakable tower of self constraint, and utter rebellion. The cliche oxymoron which no other has been able to reach the heights of, and yet it’s still a cliche…

She wears pants because they’re comfortable, she smokes because she likes it, she stayed with an alcoholic Irishman because she loved him. Plain and simple. She was as complex and a beehive and as simple as honey.

This photo shows all of that, within an immersion of the moment in semi-candid gorgeousness.

It took my breath away the moment I saw it, and it does again every time.

The heights we dream to reach.

What is your favourite Katharine Hepburn anecdote or trivia fact?

You know I can’t think of anything in particular but I’ll tell you the part of her I love the most.

It’s when she isn’t being Katharine Hepburn.

When she’s noted about playing with the kids.

Or playing Parcheesi with her Brother.

How she acted when she ran into Betty Bacall in NYC after they both found out they’d been nominated in the same category.

How she didn’t go get her awards because of pomp, but rather a self-depreciating mild humility.

Her use of TV trays

That damn red sweater.

Frizzy buns.

Finding God in a flower.

Yelling a question, but whispering the answer.

The Katie I love, is the Katie others seem to forget.

Which are your favourite Katharine Hepburn biographies?

“Me: Stories of My Life” by Katharine Hepburn
“Kate Remembered” by Scott Berg
“Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir” by Garson Kanin
Other: F*CK WILLIAM J. MANN

When I read a biography/autobio I buy another piece of a puzzle.

These pieces have a fake picture which you have to piece together to see behind, from multiple points of view, over many years, Oh and you’ll fall in love with it.

Weirdest analogy ever but it’s true.

Katie is not someone you could ever put into a book, but wisps of her are. A trace here and there. So and so met her at such and such, then you fall in love with so and so and you branch out.

When I say I’m a classic cinephile people expect you to know everything there is about black and whites, when really I have to say that because there’s no word for being irreparably changed by dead actors regardless of their films.

That would seem silly, like going in the ocean in winter, or wearing a towel on your head for fun. People would look at you like a gender bending dresser, and we can’t have that can we.

Favourite Katharine Hepburn quote?

You’re really going to make me look through my copy of her Auto-Bio for my highlights aren’t you.

I can’t find any (probably because I deemed to book to valuable to highlight, and you can’t bookmark an audio book)

*sigh* I’m going to read it again and find like 100 quotes I love and feel morose and regretful. Damn.

 

Carol Martinheira, London, England

 


Carol Martinheira

What are your first ever Katharine Hepburn memories?

I was 14 years old and I was becoming obsessed with the classics (that obsession hasn’t gone away). I saw THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) and realised why this woman was such a legend. I became a fan instantly.

If you could pick three Katharine Hepburn movies to share with your friends, which would they be and why?

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, because it’s got Kate, Cary and Jimmy and it’s such a delight of a movie.

BRINGING UP BABY (1938) because it’s hilarious.

And THE LION IN WINTER (1968), because she gave such a powerhouse performance.

If you were alone in an elevator with Katharine Hepburn, what would you say to her?

Nothing. I would faint.

In which of Katharine Hepburn’s residences would you like to live?

Turtle Bay house in NYC. Again, I just had to pick one. I’d choose all of those.

Which of Katharine Hepburn’s co-stars would you want to date?

Cary Grant

Cary Grant is my favourite actor. I love him. He’s a bit underrated as an actor, although history has been kind to his career and people have realised how good an actor he was.


Katharine Hepburn in slacks smoking cigarette c. 1940

Why is this your favourite picture of Katharine Hepburn?

I just think it sums up who she was. She’s so comfortable in her own skin and she just looks so confident.

What is your favourite Katharine Hepburn anecdote or trivia fact?

Oooooh too many! It’s impossible for me to choose.

Which are your favourite Katharine Hepburn biographies?

“Me: Stories of My Life” by Katharine Hepburn
“Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir” by Garson Kanin

Reading about her life in her own words is fantastic. ‘Me’ is such a inspirational book. And Garson Kanin’s book is just so insightful.

For which movie role that didn’t earn her an Academy Award do you think Katharine Hepburn deserved an Oscar?

Hmmm… LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (1962).

Favourite Katharine Hepburn quote:

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”

 

Margaret Perry, Citizen of the World

 

10868238_10152721569928001_2720642480376295657_nWhat are your first ever Katharine Hepburn memories?

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) and BRINGING UP BABY (1938). When I was in college, feeling kinda blue, I read Hepburn’s autobiography and suddenly I felt better. After that, I couldn’t get enough of her!

If you could pick three Katharine Hepburn movies to share with your friends, which would they be and why?

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) because it’s funny, there are some good feminist talking points, and Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.
LITTLE WOMEN (1933) because Jo is so quintessentially Hepburn and that film has so much healthy energy to it. It’s my go-to sick day movie.
ADAM’S RIB (1949) because it’s funny, Spencer Tracy is a peach, it has a catchy song (“Farewell Amanda” haha now it’s stuck in your head!), and it makes one of the best cinematic arguments for women’s rights I’ve ever seen!

If you were alone in an elevator with Katharine Hepburn, what would you say to her?

I would try to play it cool: “Can you push ‘down’, please? By the way, you’re some kind of wonderful. I like to take cold showers, too. Give Phyllis my love. Bye.” Inside, I would be quaking!

In which of Katharine Hepburn’s residences would you like to live?

Turtle Bay house in NYC

It would be cool to live in New York but still be able to get to Fenwick on the weekends. I would have picked Fenwick if the new owners hadn’t completely screwed it up!

Which of Katharine Hepburn’s co-stars would you want to date?

Rossano Brazzi

Because he is a sexy Italian. And he was no idiot – he studied law before going into movies.

125190405 - phone ladiesWhy is this your favourite picture of Katharine Hepburn?

Because I love how happy she is. I also love her Diane Keaton-esque outfit with the jaunty hat. I’d like to think she’s sharing a joke with Spencer Tracy. I also love the sign over her head – she seems to be mocking any supposed notions of femininity.

What is your favourite Katharine Hepburn anecdote or trivia fact?

Anything about her mother. The fact that her mother helped found Planned Parenthood with Margaret Sanger. And that time when little Kathy was climbing in the tree and the neighbour called Kit and Kit said “Don’t say anything – she doesn’t know it’s scary!”

Which are your favourite Katharine Hepburn biographies?

“Katharine Hepburn: Star As Feminist” by Andrew Britton

This is less a biography and more a scholarly approach to her films. I use Britton a lot when I am researching the feminist angle of Hepburn’s life and work. 

For which movie role that didn’t earn her an Academy Award do you think Katharine Hepburn deserved an Oscar?

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) because it really epitomised her iconic career image, ALICE ADAMS (1935) because it was her personal favourite and had a lot of depth, or LITTLE WOMEN (1933) because she was Jo and I love the feminism of that film.

Favourite Katharine Hepburn quote:

“I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.”

This seems to me such a healthy attitude about life. Try not to do stupid things, but don’t beat yourself up over it.

 

Happy Birthday, Katharine Hepburn, you old poop!

Are you a Katharine Hepburn fangirl?

Feel free to share your reflections about how this great lady has influenced your life. Or just leave a friendly happy birthday note in the comments below!


7 thoughts on “Katharine Hepburn’s Fangirls: A Birthday Tribute

  • Wonderful! I missed our Brazilian friend Marcie in this group of Kate fans! Maybe next year, huh?
    And I looked all over YouTube for Farewell Amanda when I first watched Adam’s Rib (in 2009). Now that I have the DVD I find it online… and get the tune stuck in my head!
    And long live Kate’s legacy! Hooray!
    Kisses 😉

    • MargaretPerry Post author

      If we had every KH fangirl on here, it would be an infinite post!
      It’s hard not to get “Farewell Amanda” stuck in your head. I have the same problem with “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby” from BUB!

  • shwyny

    These are wonderful interviews! Wonderful to discover how variedly people relate to KH!

  • Leah

    This post was a lot of fun to read, particularly the answers to favorite partner to date and the elevator encounter. Happy late birthday to Katharine and all the fans who love her:)

Comments are closed.