Thursday, September 9, 2010

Katharine Hepburn

Recently I have been re-reading a biography of actress Katharine Hepburn entitled, Kate Remembered.  It is a personal reflection on the star's life by a writer who became her close friend in the later years of her life -- and though considered a biography, it's written in the form of an informal story or narrative about the time he spent with this great actress.

For me, it's rare to read a book more than once, but it's been a few years since I've read this work, and I enjoyed it so much the first time around.  Reading it is almost like spending time with Katharine Hepburn herself.  Something I wish I had had the chance to do.. along with so many of her fans across the globe I'm sure.

I haven't seen all of Miss. Hepburn's films, only those genres that interested me: historical or romantic comedy.  Desk Set, one of her less popular films is bar far my favorite.  The friendly office atmosphere and quick whit of the co-workers was always the type of setting I wanted to work within professionally... and I just fell in love with character of Bunny Watson - head of the reference department.

And who could forget such films as Woman of the Year, Adam's Rib, Bringing up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond?  Perhaps I have seen quite a few of her movies.. but there are plenty more out there.

What I have always loved about Miss. Hepburn was her down to Earth, no non-sense attitude towards life.  Though she and I would certainly have disagreed on topics of politics, I admired her independence and her forcefulness to live life as she wanted without letting people tell her she "can't" do something.  When told she "couldn't" do this or that because she was a woman.. her reply was usually: "watch me."

When I watch Katharine Hepburn on the screen or listen to the few interviews she did later in her life, I am often reminded of my paternal Grandmother.  Like the biographer and Miss. Hepburn, I did not get to really know my Grandmother until the later years of her life.. in this case, the last three years of them.  This time of course I remember fondly and treasure every moment with her.

My Grandmother was fiercely independent.. not one to let other tell her what to do and what to say.  She spoke her mind (at least in the time I knew her) and lived life the way she saw fit.  I always said there was a "star quality" about my Grandma... not that she was perhaps movie star material.. but she had the quality to be more.  Sadly, she lived in a time when most women were pressured to settle down and raise a family, and as loving as she was, I don't think she was quite the "family woman" in the sense that society dictated at the time.

Grandma forged ahead with a professional career as a well respected nurse, while still being wife, mother and grandmother.  She took care of herself and those she loved.. and managed to do much of it.... at least later in life.. on her own terms.

Katharine Hepburn - and even my Grandmother - came from a generation when people still had ideals, dreams and ambitions.. and were not afraid to WORK for them.  My generation seems content to sit here and expect things to be handed to us (note I do use the term "US" putting myself into this category).  Now more than ever we need examples of people like Miss. Hepburn who weren't afraid to live life and work for success. -- Though, as a quote of Miss. Hepburn's that I often remember... again, very meaningful to my generation who wants it all NOW: "You can't have everything.  Any idiot knows that."