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Katharine Hepburn Paperback – August 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Limelight Editions; Reprint edition (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879102934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879102937
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,094,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hollywood biographer Leaming presents a detailed account of the professional and personal life of Hepburn, the only star to ever win four Oscars for best actress.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

One might rightly wonder what there is left to say about actress Hepburn, since she has already been extensively written about and interviewed and has written her autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life (Knopf, 1991). But biographer Leaming (If This Is Happiness, LJ 9/1/89) has managed to add a whole new perspective to what is already known. Leaming starts this biography not with Hepburn's birth and early life but with her mother Kathy (known later as Kate). Kathy's mother, Carrie, was forced to take charge of her three girls after the suicide of her husband, Fred. Carrie's courage, strength, and fervid desire for her daughters to be educated led Kathy to become a leader in the early women's movement. These role models together helped shape the woman we know as Katharine Hepburn. Leaming hypothesizes, however, that Hepburn was also driven by the shadow of suicide, which took her brother Tom as well. This is less a gossipy, glitzy celebrity bio and more an exploration of the New England social mores that shaped this living legend. Highly recommended.?Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Bay Area Cooperative Lib. Sys., Cal.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Barbara Leaming is a NY Times bestselling author. Three of her books have been NY Times Notable Books of the Year. Her most recent book, "Churchill Defiant: Fighting On 1945-1955," received The Emery Reves Award from the International Churchill Centre. Her groundbreaking biography of America's 35th President, "Jack Kennedy: The Education of a Statesman," was the first to detail the lifelong influence of British history and culture and especially of Winston Churchill on JFK. Leaming's articles have appeared in the NY Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the Times of London and other magazines.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Eby on June 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
I found Barbara Leaming's biography of Katharine Hepburn to be unique in that it does not begin immediately with Hepburn's birth. Instead, it starts with her mother and grandmother, and her father and uncles. In doing so, Leaming allows the reader, throughout the course of the book, to come to a better understanding of Hepburn psychologically, as opposed to just presenting facts related to career and private life. The bulk of the biography is devoted to Hepburn's relationships, including those with Howard Hughes, John Ford, Leland Hayward, and, of course, Spencer Tracy. For one more interested in details of Hepburn's historic career, this is not the most insightful book. But for those wanting a peek into the mystique that is the Great Kate, Leaming's biography is tantalizing and absorbing.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Laura G. Carter on November 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Barbara Leaming has written on the lives of some of the most luminous Hollywood personalities there are, including Orson Welles and Rita Heyworth. Her biography of Katharine Hepburn once again shows her ability to reveal the motivations and drives behind her subject while remaining a sympathetic observer. She treats Hepburn's childhood, her adult years and her involvements with famous, powerful men (John Ford and Spencer Tracy, to name two of the better-known lovers), that independent spirit, and her quixotic but huge theatrical and film talent and the very unordinary family life she enjoyed while growing up fairly and with great detail. Leaming gives us a portrait of a complex and brilliant artist of stage and screen who is larger than life, yet down to it as well, a glamourous Yankee with sensibility, common sense and charm to match. Very readable and very entertaining, Leaming's biography of Ms. Hepburn ranks against that of writer Anne Edwards - all fans of Ms. K. would do well to turn its pages.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
To create an accurate, comprehensive, and revealing life story of Katharine Hepburn, biographer Barbara Leaming drew upon years of painstaking research that included her private correspondence and letters of her family and associates who knew her best. Her childhood was marked by the discovery of her brother Tom's suicide by hanging when she was 13 years old. But she was able to emerge from a troubled family background (her maternal grandfather also died a suicide in 1892), because of support from the strong women of her family, especially her mother who helped lead the women's suffrage movement of the time. This outstanding biography delves deeply into Hepburn's acting career from Broadway to Hollywood, her long affair with Spencer Tracy, and her relationships with John Ford, H. Phelps Putnam, and others. Katherine Hepburn is enthusiastically recommended reading for Hepburn fans and students of theatrical history and cinematic studies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Being a big fan of Katharine Hepburn, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Although it was very interesting to read about her family history, which was hardly mentioned in Ms. Hepburn's autobiography "Me", I was hoping to get more information about Ms. Hepburn, her career and social life. The author, Ms. Leaming, apparently had enough diligence to research as far back as 1892 that researching information from the 1920's through the present on Ms. Hepburn should not have been so difficult. The material on Ms. Hepburn's past did give new insight on her personality. Now it is easy to see why she did not mention this information in her autobiography--she was raised never to speak about such things. It was also amazing to read how such a powerfully independent personality could submit herself to such degredation and humilation as she did with Spencer Tracy. This book does shed new light on Katharine Hepburn but, most of that new light is focused on other members of her family.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kitkatdiva on December 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
In light of the fact that Ms. Hepburn has now been revealed as a lesbian whose affair with the gay Spencer Tracy was a big beard for the public, I find all these reviews objecting to any love relationship with John Ford because Spencer was her great love fascinating.

Barbara Leaming is a brilliant biographer. She somehow missed what William Mann et al. picked up on once Ms. Hepburn died - that is, that she, like everyone else in Hollywood's golden age was gay. If Hepburn was a lesbian, then Tracy was definitely gay. Gee, I wonder how Barbara missed that. Tsk tsk all that research, all that work and somehow that just never came up. She must not have talked to the right anonymous and inside sources. She probably depended on things like interviews with people who knew Hepburn, her private papers, studio documents, etc. She didn't know that in order to get info on Spencer Tracy, for instance, you have to go to secret gay flop houses.

As for John Ford - in a recent documentary about John Ford, we hear a tape recording between Ford and Katharine Hepburn made while he was very ill in which he tells her he loves her. Dan Ford was taping an encounter with them, went to get something in his car, and left the recorder running. The documentary states that Ford worshipped her (of course, you have to realize that Ford has now been outed as well). Since I head the tape recording, why should I believe any of you that there was no relationship? Was it love on Hepburn's part? I don't know. There was something, though.

Why people find all this endlessly fascinating, I have no idea, especially when one book contradicts the other. I'm supposed to believe that she and Spencer were gay, that Spencer was the only love of her life, that she was a big fat phony.
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