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Kate Remembered Paperback – Deckle Edge, September 7, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Published a mere 13 days after the death of Katharine Hepburn, Kate Remembered is best appreciated as a valentine of devoted friendship. It's a moving study of mutual trust and admiration between Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer A. Scott Berg and legendary Hollywood icon Hepburn, who'd established an instant rapport in 1983, beginning a 20-year conversation that blossomed into this enchanting "biographical memoir." As a casual but authoritative survey of Hepburn's career, Berg's book offers little new information to anyone who's read previous Hepburn biographies or Me: Stories of My Life, Hepburn's bestselling 1991 memoir. But the duality of Berg's title reinforces his purpose: "More than my remembrances," writes Berg in his author's note, "this book intends to convey hers." As such, Kate Remembered offers a rare, unvarnished portrait of one of the 20th century's most influential women, achieving a personal intimacy while making the reader feel welcomed in Hepburn's private world of privilege.

Although Berg (the acclaimed biographer of legendary editor Max Perkins, producer/mogul Samuel Goldwyn, and aviator Charles Lindbergh) had written all but the final paragraphs by 2001, Hepburn insisted this book remain unpublished until after her death, which came, in quiet dignity at age 96, on June 29, 2003. Given the book's pre-publication secrecy, it's hardly tabloid-worthy, serving instead to correct or clarify details from Hepburn's glory days--especially her long-term affair with Spencer Tracy--while offering choice bits of Hollywood gossip, Hepburn's frequently scathing assessments of other actors, and amusing encounters with such luminaries as Michael Jackson and Warren Beatty (both of whom appear as mock suitors with selfish motivations). It's a brisk read but a substantial one, richly emotional and as dignified as Hepburn herself, whose faults and foibles make her even more appealing than her beloved public persona. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Berg's memoir of Katharine Hepburn was written over a number of years but held back, according to Hepburn's wishes, until her death (on June 29, 2003, at the age of 96). One of the most telling passages in Berg's love letter to the four-time Oscar-winning actress has been omitted (along with the entire two-page Author's Note) from this otherwise unabridged recording. In it, Berg clarifies, "This book is, thus, not a critical study of either Katharine Hepburn's life or her career... more than my remembrances, this book intends to convey hers." This is Hepburn the way Hepburn wanted to be seen and few people will have qualms about that since, as she was famously quoted as saying, "I'm endlessly fascinating." Berg charts their growing friendship from 1983 onward, recounting personal stories of their interactions (as a producer on her final film, Love Affair, he expertly skewers Warren Beatty) and retelling familiar tales of Kate lore on and off-screen. One of the funniest incidents narrator Goldwyn nimbly reenacts is a fumbling meeting between Michael Jackson and his "favorite movie star," whose films he had obviously not seen. Listeners will enjoy Goldwyn's smooth reading of Berg's tight, evocative prose. There were few lulls in Hepburn's long life and the same can be said for this audio package, which should be a holiday gift favorite.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (September 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425199096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425199091
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Spady on July 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who wants to believe that Katharine Hepburn was as fascinating in life as she was on the screen - and put me on that list - will love this book. A. Scott Berg's memoir, Kate Remembered - and please note that the author informs at the onset that this is a memoir, not an official biography - captures a Hepburn who is always on, always ready with a pithy one-liner, always capable of a grand gesture, but who never seems fake or dishonest. It was impossible for me to read this without hearing her distinctive voice every time Berg quoted her.
Although this does repeat some of the material in Miss Hepburn's own two forays into writing, and perhaps they have more of an authoritative voice since they came from her pen, it is worth reading for the gaps it fills and for Berg's tender treatment of his subject.
To be honest, it is worth the entire cover price just to read about the surreal dinner party the evening that Michael Jackson came to dinner. Hepburn's one-liners interspersed with Jackson's silence and the other guests' continually failing attempts to make conversation is laugh-out-loud funny. When it became obvious that Jackson had never even seen a Hepburn movie (but said how much he loved them), I was laughing so hard, I dropped the book.
Berg grabbed me on page one, and held my interest through the end.
Read it. By the time you reach the end, you will probably want to go out and rent several of Hepburn's movies, if you don't have them already.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Archer Hope on July 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Easily the best biography I've ever read. It truly captures the essence of the legendary woman in an intimate and honest light. Berg does an excellent job of capturing the details of what made Katharine Hepburn who she was and chronicles a life that defines a century. The book includes moments of genuine hilarity (such as Michael Jackson coming to dinner) and heartbreak (the death of her beloved Spencer and her own failing health). If you're looking for titillating details or long-buried-secrets this isn't the place to look (sure, there are some small surprises and her personality is more clearly defined, but there's nothing truly shocking) but if you want to get a better understanding and new respect for one of America's most influential and groundbreaking women, Berg's portrait of a lady will be a joy to read.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly M. Benson on July 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having read Hepburn's autobiography (which the author shamelessly tells of acting as her informal editor for) and another book that tells her story behind the making of the African Queen, Kate Remembered is one of those "gotta run out and buy" books we closet Hepburn fans love to read.
Once the reader gets beyond the story of the relationship between Berg and Hepburn and Berg and his other interview subjects (which I am strongly averse to, and think most people will find rather boring - after all, we didn't pay to hear Berg's professional conquests), there are some real gems in this book. My favorites are the times when Hepburn confesses her humanity and admits her mistakes. This is truly Berg's sole victory - revealing the human side of one of America's most private and cherished celebrities.
Obviously Berg had his foot in the door early, born to a father inside the industry. True, the whole thing smacks of elitism, yet Berg can't resist telling on the people who used Hepburn and others to step over to reach another star (including Michael Jackson). Was he not much the same?
Another thing that sticks in one's mind is how Berg plays up Spencer Tracy's alcoholism but downplays the fact Hepburn constantly reminded him at her house, "drinks are at 6, dinner is at 7." Need I say more?
All in all, an enjoyable read. The dialogue is cleverly written and does make one feel as if they're an onlooker. But the relationship between Berg and Hepburn, and choosing to include it in the book is, well, rather messy.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on January 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
One quickly gets the sense that this timely biography of the inimitable Hepburn was written by someone she knew and trusted, someone who would do a good and honest job of getting her life, thoughts, loves, friends, and history recorded in a way that did them kindly justice. Much has already, of course, been written by this icon, but Kate (the book) is full of fresh and intimate looks at her life with more emphasis on her thoughts and memories than other more straightforward biographies. It becomes something of a cross between the introspection of a memoir blended with the fact-based details of a biography. Katherine Hepburn's own voice comes through clearly in the many quotes with which author Berg seasons his book.
Wonderful. Highest recommendation for those who can't get enough about this very special woman.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is interesting and valuable because it provides a glimpse of Miss Hepburn in her later years vouchsafed to few.
As is so often the case however, the media coverage of this book promises far more than the book delivers. Moreover, there is far too much of the author here, and not enough of the subject. With the exception of glimpses of the history of the author's relationship with the subject,and the story of Miss Hepburn's last years as seen by the author there is very little here that is new to anyone who has read Miss Hepburn's autobiography. In addition, someone whose image of Spencer Tracy consisted solely of what this book purports to tell us would be hard-pressed to figure out why anyone would like- much less love him. He was a far more intelligent and likeable person than Mr Berg tells us, and he is done an injustice here, as he has been in most of what has been written of him, which has been mainly concerned with his alcohol problem.
This book would have been far more interesting had Mr Berg chosen to interpose himself less between his subject and his audience. For example, Irene Mayer Selznick was clearly a significant figure in the life of Katharine Hepburn,but the amount of space given to her and her opinions in this book is excessive. Having said that, I must also say that she is the only person in Miss Hepburn's life who is presented in this book with any degree of depth.
In short, this book is interesting and valuable not because it tells us any "secrets" of any significance, or refutes much of significance written by others. It is a warm memoir which gives us snapshots of a remarkable human being, whose ability to cope in the sunset of her life makes her even more remarkable, as years of theory were put into practice.
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