But forget about Sid Vicious turning 50 on Thursday. Today, Katharine Hepburn turns 100!
She lived openly with a woman widely assumed to have been her lover, wore men’s trousers and aired unfashionably left-wing opinions that scandalized the fan magazines....
Hepburn became an American Rorschach test, mirroring the ways we wanted to see ourselves. Each generation redefined her, rubbing out and adding to her myth. In the ’60s, she fell into step with the counterculture, promoting interracial love in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and exposing the folly of war in “The Trojan Women.” When the times took another rightward lurch in the 1970s, she made “Rooster Cogburn” opposite the conservative icon John Wayne, and told the press how refreshing it was to work with a “real man.” Hepburn had remade herself from a sexually and politically suspect outsider into an exemplar of true-blue Americana....
Hepburn’s drive for fame meant she would spend her life struggling between the demands of “the creature” (what she called her public image) and the more bohemian, unconventional life to which she was drawn. She was forced to invent a role for the kind of woman she was — her own kind. Labels — sexual, political, artistic — hold little meaning when talking about her. Sex, love and marriage were only the beginnings of the things she had to learn, re-make and often reject.
That's from an op-ed in the NYT by William Mann, who wrote "Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn." Hmmm, so what was the deal with Katharine Hepburn? Was she a lesbian? The Amazon page for Mann's book has this from Publisher's Weekly:
Mann's careful research on the longstanding rumors about Hepburn's lesbianism suggests that the notoriously feisty and tomboyish actress lived her life as a man with little empathy for women's issues. This interpretation also shatters the legend of her romance with Spencer Tracy—instead, Mann establishes a pattern of relationships in which the sex-averse Hepburn played emotional caretaker to a series of alcoholic, closeted homosexuals that, in addition to Tracy, included director John Ford. Yet the portrait is constructed so carefully that it never feels shocking.Wow, I have not been keeping up with Hollywood gossip! Anyway, I'm interested in this whole private side of her, including the way she built and maintained her phony image. I listened -- like a sucker -- to her reading of her -- presumably Frey-like -- memoir, "Me." I even read Garson Kanin's "Tracy and Hepburn," which I thought she was all outraged about. Supposedly, she cut off her friendship with Kanin for revealing -- what? -- the story that wasn't true but that she wanted to promote as true? And part of that ruse was to appear to be suppressing it? Tricky. But when you're 100 years old and dead, you can do any damned thing you want.
I love Katharine Hepburn, even though she's terrible in a lot of movies. What do you love her in the most? "Bringing Up Baby," of course, but what else? Back in the days before VCRs, I once called in sick -- the only time in my life I've ever called in sick and lied -- because "Morning Glory" was on TV. We stayed home, felt guilty, and watched the movie, cut with commercials, on a crummy little TV we'd paid $15 for. A distinctive cinematic experience.