Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Great Katharine

Katharine Hepburn surprised us all in her later years - before she got too frail - by suddenly coming out of seclusion after all those years of slipping in and out of hotels by the kitchens and dodging photographers, as she published her autobiography and accompanying film telling us just what she wanted us to know about her. There she was on lots of interviews and documentaries - always with that red pullover knotted over her shoulders - discussing her career and Spencer. All those books too - photo books, Her Life in Pictures, the very good "The Private World of Katharine Hepburn" with marvellous shots of her at home, at work, at play etc. All those biographies too by Alexander Walker, Barbara Leaming, Charlotte Chandler, Charles Higham, and her own little book about the making of THE AFRICAN QUEEN. Two good ones after her death are the affectionate tribute by Scot Berg, allowed into her inner circle - and the exhaustive tome by William K Mann, which paradoxically made one admire her all the more.

Hepburn was one star who invented herself and continued doing so into her old age. She is the one star I would have liked to have met ( well, apart from Kay Kendall, Romy Schneider and Monica Vitti). Ever since the late '60s when she burst back into our consciousness winning two best actress Oscars in a row, being on the cover of LIFE and other magazines as she was lionised all over again as we sought out the old movies and dutifully attended retrospectives. The only one I did not want to see then, and just saw this week, was THE TROJAN WOMEN - but that is a different story [review to follow].

We will always have HOLIDAY and BRINGING UP BABY and SUMMERTIME and rediscovering those early '30s ones like CHRISTOPHER STRONG ... as we remain fascinated by SYLVIA SCARLETT, ALICE ADAMS, Susan Vance, Tracy Lord, Linda Seton, Tess Harding, Rose Sawyer, Jane Hudson (no, that one), Eleanor of Aquitaine and all the rest - even her Jade in DRAGON SEED is mesmerising in its awfulness... she really only deserved two of those 4 best actress awards though! Pauline Kael wrote very perceptively (in her collected reviews) on the Hepburn '30s persona and how different she was to all those other ingenues.

I like the shot above of her looking at that great collection of MGM stars - she is in the front row wearing slacks - below, its gin-and-tonic time as Kate relaxes at home with old pals dancer Robert Helpmann and Anthony Harvey who directed THE LION IN WINTER. Helpmann had co-starred with her on stage in Shaw's THE MILLIONAIRESS (and they toured Australia) - despite one's affection for Loren and Sellers in the film, this is one show one wishes one had seen...

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