Thursday, December 10, 2009

Katharine Hepburn

Over at Encore Entertainment there's been some Katharine Hepburn buzz about. There's a blogathon and I'm here to devote some of my time and space on my blog to Kate. Why? She's only the greatest actress ever. (Sorry, Streep fans, but Hepburn will always one-up Meryl, Oscar records or not!)

The best part of Katharine Hepburn is that she is entirely human. That could sound weird at first, but it is the only way to describe her.

What I mean by "human" is that her anti-Hollywood ways made her accessible to everybody. When I say anti-Hollywood I don't mean some ungrateful actress that hates the press, the paparazzi, and the fame. She was thankful for her career, for all of the good parts she got, for the longevity she acquired. But she wasn't a Hollywood star like Bette Davis was or Elizabeth Taylor. Instead, she was a girl from Connecticut who wanted to make movies, be on the stage, and spend her life acting for as long as she was able. If you look at someone like Elizabeth Taylor you see the eight failed marriages, the affair(s), and the glamour, and then a character that she is "acting." When you look at Katharine Hepburn you see the person with a great gift doing what they love to do. A little more enjoyable then watching someone "act," isn't it?

You also see a woman who wasn't afraid to wear the pants (well, this is both literally and non-literally...let's focus on non-literally!). Kate didn't let a man control her, yet she was completely devoted to Spencer Tracy. She was an independent woman both with and without Tracy. Her roles were never defined as "damsel in distress" and she never played second-fiddle to anybody. Not Hepburn. The main attraction of a Hepburn film isn't a male co-star. Example: The Philadelphia Story. When somebody wants to see The Philadelphia Story, is it for Jimmy Stewart? Cary Grant? No. It is for the trio. And, to venture a wild guess, it is most likely for Hepburn.

Woman of the Year. There we go. Right in its title we know this is not defined by a man. Don't get me wrong, I love the men Kate has worked with throughout her career and she has unlimited amounts of chemistry with her leading men. But this is to rather point out that Kate was never the second-best. If she was not sharing the spotlight, then she was in it alone. It was never anybody else's but hers and maybe a lucky co-star or two.

The African Queen. Is this Humphrey Bogart's film? Yes. Is this Katharine Hepburn's film? Yes.

Bringing Up Baby. Is this Cary Grant's film? Yes, sure. Is this Katharine Hepburn's film? Yes.


Vertigo. Is this Jimmy Stewart's film? Yes. Is this Kim Novak's film? Ehhh....

The examples above further prove that Kate was always the star, never the supporting player. Who'd have thunk that this would ever happen to Kate, labeled box office poison in the late 1930s? Certainly not Kate herself. Don't get me wrong- not every film she made was great. At times the roles did not fit her, but she went into them will all she had. Well into her 70s she was still proving that the movies didn't define her, she defined the movies.

I could go on forever proving Kate's screen presence to be an ever-lasting one, but then this would not make it in time for the blogathon! She's legendary, superbly gifted, and a complete individual. Somebody like her will never come by again. Not even close. The talents, the feeling that she was just like everybody else, the radical independence and pant-wearing ways- it's all unique to Katharine Hepburn forever and always.

So, we salute you, Miss Hepburn. You'll forever be missed and remembered both for the characters you played, your history in Hollywood, and your ability to light up any silver screen.


  1. This is lovely Jude. Thanks a lot.

    PS. Kim Novak? Low blow :)

  2. @joe.. Thanks!

    @Andrew.. You're welcome! Love Katharine Hepburn. Also, as you can see, Kim Novak and me don't get along as well as me and Kate haha.

  3. Awesome! Have you seen her interview on The Dick Cavett Show? It's one of my favorites.

  4. @Jrarcieri.. Yes I've seen that amazing interview! Kate is so good on film and off! And thanks for the kind words =).

  5. Oh I agree - and the only reason some of these male counter parts are impressive in these films is because they have Kate to interact with on screen - Grant is nothing with out Cary in those early films.

    And Philidelphia Story couldn't have been done by anyone but her!

  6. I agree. Kate was one of a kind. She was daring and interesting--there was something going on inside of her that made her so alluring on-screen. She wasn't like the other women. She was modern, yet timeless.

    Terrific post!

  7. RC- Yes, Kate is the only one who can pull the Philadelphia Story off!

    Marcy- Thanks! And yes, this woman is certainly timeless!