She was certainly lucky in always being financially independent - no cheap horror movies for her! Also in being off the screen since 1959's SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER to 67's GUESS WHO... only added to her legend. The 1962 LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT may have been among her best performances and won the cast acting awards at Venice, but it was an independent release not widely shown at the time, but thankfully is on dvd now. The very names of Hepburn's characters sum her up: Tracy Lord, Tess Harding, Susan Vance, Linda Seton, Rose Sawyer, Jane Hudson (no, not that one but in SUMMERTIME) Lean's 1955 film set in Venice was another hit, along with THE AFRICAN QUEEN, THE RAINMAKER and those late Tracys PAT AND MIKE and DESK SET and of course Violet Venable in SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER. She had a nice line in the '50s of these quivering spinsters on the brink of finding love.
We revered Hepburn all over again back in the 60s when I was in my early 20s - GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER had been the most enormous success (even if its sadly dated today) with Hepburn re-discovered for a new generation, being on the cover of LIFE magazine etc, and then the even bigger success of THE LION IN WINTER, a key film for 1968 where she is Eleanor of Aquitaine to the manner born, with as another best actress award, even if was shared with Streisand in that other big hit of '68 FUNNY GIRL. THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT which followed was less successful and I am going to catch up with THE TROJAN WOMEN shortly. Hepburn, like Davis, was now a living legend and soon teamed with the likes of Laurence Oliver and John Wayne, as well as that nice remake of THE CORN IN GREEN in Wales with Cukor in '78. Later television movies included pleasant enough fare like LAURA LANSING SLEPT HERE and MRS DELLAFIELD WANTS TO GET MARRIED as she got older. Suddenly Hepburn was everywhere, giving interviews in various documentaries - always with that red pullover over her shoulders - burnishing her legend giving us her version of her life and that romance with Tracy, including her own book "Me" a very selective view of herself. Lots of interesting new books on her too incuding some good picture books.The later Scot Berg and William K Mann books on her, after her death, painted other versions of her life and romances but only added to her legend and lustre. There was simply no-one else like her. Of American actresses perhaps only Davis had a comparable career - shame they could never agree to team up for at least a photoshoot. (Bette was willing, but Hepburn wouldn't). Another actress Hepburn did not get along with was Margaret Sullavan, subject of my next post .... Kate being perhaps too competitive with a rival? I got to see Bette up close in '72 but it must have been marvellous to have seen or met Hepburn - I love those '50s/60s shots of her striding on and off planes or dodging through hotel lobbies in her macs and khakis. At least New Yorkers got to see her on stage several times. She even did a musical: COCO (though Chanel thought they had meant Audrey to play her!)
Back in 1935 she and Cary and Brian Aherne etc were young and having fun playing games as they shot the quaint SYLVIA SCARLETT along the California coast, with their Cockney accents ... let's slip it into the projector and have another look.
Next: Margaret Sullavan and a Christmas treat: THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER