Sunday, June 29, 2003

In Loving Memory

Katherine Hepburn

May 12, 1907 -

June 29, 2003

Katherine Hepburn has always been one of my all-time favorite actresses. She was beautiful, strong, hilarious, brave, and just about the best actress there ever was. Sadly, she died today at her home in Old Saybrook, CT, surrounded by friends and family. She was 96 years old.

Katherine Hepburn was born May 12, 1907, in Hartford, CT, where her father was a physician and her mother, Katherine Houghton Hepburn, was a suffragist and an early and militant supporter of birth control. Between 1932 and 1994, Hepburn starred in 53 films. She has been nominated for an Oscar 12 times, won 4 of them (for Morning Glory (33), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (67), The Lion in Winter (68), and On Golden Pond (81)), and won an Emmy for her made-for-tv movie Love Among the Ruins (75). A feat, by the way, which remains unmatched by any other actor or actress.

From her obituary in the Washington Post:
As a young Hollywood actress, Hepburn was often at odds with the major film studios, which disliked the fact that she would only accept the roles that suited her. She had an independent spirit that led some producers and directors to view her as "an ornery, opinionated snob." She never had a press agent, she often refused to cooperate with film studio publicists, and for years she did not grant media interviews.

If the bulb of a camera flashed from the audience when Hepburn was on the live stage, she would often stop the performance, deliver a sharp tongue-lashing to the miscreant and then begin the scene over again.

In her manner of dress, she was equally unconventional. Her customary attire was a turtleneck sweater, men's trousers and an odd black hat, and it often appeared that much of her clothing was 20 or 30 years old. The Council of Fashion Designers of America gave her an award in 1986 for demonstrating "what American fashion was all about even before any of us thought of designing it." Hepburn's response: "Imagine, the original bag lady getting an award for the way she dresses."

A physical fitness enthusiast, she often played tennis before breakfast, swam outdoors regularly, even in the winter, and whenever possible rode a bicycle instead of riding in a car. She was once the runner-up for the Connecticut women's golf championship.

She was often imperious, both on stage and off, but she could also be sensitive and considerate of others. In the summer of 1980, when "On Golden Pond," was being filmed at Big Squam Lake, N.H., she became concerned that the activity might disturb the region's regular summer residents.

One day she walked over to the cottage nearest to where the movie was being filmed. "I'm Katharine Hepburn. We're making a movie next door, and I hope we're not ruining your summer," she told the startled occupants.

Katherine Hepburn will be dearly missed!


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