Sunday, July 7, 2013

Me: Stories of My Life

1991, 1992 Ballantine edition
Katharine Hepburn
Me: Stories of My Life
Original price $5.99, purchase price $3.95
Very worn paperback

As I noted with Rosalind Russell's biography, she and Hepburn were born close in age and locale, to big close-knit families.  Hepburn lived and worked much longer, not dying till over a decade after this book came out, at age 96.  This isn't a biography per se, in that she does skip back and forth through years and even decades, just telling stories about the people and experiences in her life, notably her parents and Spencer Tracy.  It seems odd that she and Tracy never discussed their feelings, in 27 years together, and her definition of "love" is very selfless, without any expectation that it should be reciprocal.  He was separated from his wife before he met Hepburn, but Kate never encouraged him (a Catholic) to get a divorce.  Still, their relationship seems to have worked for them, on and offscreen.

Tracy aside, Hepburn admits she was always very self-involved (as the title suggests), focusing on her career and interests.  Even when she went to talk to a troubled Judy Garland (at L. B. Mayer's suggestion), she didn't think it would do much good.  Hepburn's parents were liberals involved in women's rights, including birth control, and she remained a liberal herself, yet she preferred John Wayne to the "creeps" who came along in the '60s and later.  (She doesn't name names, so I don't know if she's thinking of Peter Fonda or Dustin Hoffman or who.)  Despite her independence, she took a lot from men, as shown in the long script-like chapter, "Willie Rose and His Maserati."  (She's trying to present him as a charming younger man, but he comes across as a jerk.)

She does talk about her movies of course.  She's hard on Sylvia Scarlet (Cary Grant's performance aside), but I like that movie more than The Philadelphia Story.  I do agree with her on the greatness of Little Women and African Queen.  Still, the most interesting parts of the book are before she went to Hollywood.

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