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Kate : the woman who was Hepburn
William J. Mann
Adult Nonfiction PN2287.H45 M27 2006

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Mann, a skilled chronicler of gay Hollywood (Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines), says at the onset it doesn't make sense to try to pin down Katharine Hepburn with modern labels of sexual identity. Mann's careful research on the longstanding rumors about Hepburn's lesbianism suggests that the notoriously feisty and tomboyish actress lived her life as a man with little empathy for women's issues. This interpretation also shatters the legend of her romance with Spencer Tracy-instead, Mann establishes a pattern of relationships in which the sex-averse Hepburn played emotional caretaker to a series of alcoholic, closeted homosexuals that, in addition to Tracy, included director John Ford. Yet the portrait is constructed so carefully that it never feels shocking. Mann also devotes significant attention to Hepburn's rocky relationships with Hollywood studios and with the press, revealing that the self-styled renegade wasn't above collaborating to shape her public image, and depicts her final decline into alcoholism and depression with sensitivity. Hepburn's siblings and contemporaries (now free to speak after her death) make major corrections to earlier Hepburn biographies, creating a picture of a complex woman rather than the icon she worked hard to become in the public's eye. This will surely be the definitive version of Hepburn's life for decades to come, as it is an outstanding example of painstaking research matched with splendid writing. (Oct. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

With her angular features, androgynous appearance, and distinctive voice, Katharine Hepburn (d. 2003) brought a new, more adult sensibility to American movies. Journalist and cultural historian Mann (Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger) adds to the already crowded field of Hepburn biographies with this look at the complex, contradictory life of the actress, played out against almost a century of American social history. He presents Hepburn's long-lasting influences e.g., her "can-do" New England upbringing and her beloved brother's death. He also dispels myths surrounding her love affair with actor Spencer Tracy, myths that were embellished and passed along over the years by both Hepburn's biographers and Hepburn herself. Mann tries to get beyond the "Great Kate" image fostered over the decades, and though his book is well researched and written, he fails to present a detailed discussion of Hepburn's films, perhaps overemphasizing the sexual proclivities of the men and women in her life. Nevertheless, this is a compelling look at a larger-than-life film figure. Demand is likely to be stimulated when the book is excerpted in the October issue of Vanity Fair; recommended for public libraries. (Illustrations not seen.) Stephen Rees, Levittown Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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