Katharine the Great: A Lifetime of Secrets Revealed

Katharine the Great: A Lifetime of Secrets Revealed

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by Darwin Porter

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Katharine Hepburn was the world's greatest screen diva--the most famous actress in American history. But until the appearance of this biography, no one had ever published the intimate details of her complicated and ferociously secretive private life. Thanks to the deferential and obsequious whitewashes which followed in the immediate wake of her death, readers


Katharine Hepburn was the world's greatest screen diva--the most famous actress in American history. But until the appearance of this biography, no one had ever published the intimate details of her complicated and ferociously secretive private life. Thanks to the deferential and obsequious whitewashes which followed in the immediate wake of her death, readers probably know WHAT KATE REMEMBERED. Here, however, is an unvarnished account of what Katharine Hepburn desperately wanted to forget.

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Katharine the Great: A Lifetime of Secrets Revealed 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It would be nice if the author of this book would stop writing anonymous reviews for these online book stores. There's not much to be said that hasn't already been said about this book. It's simply fictional rubbish written by someone who knows full well that dead peoples' estates cannot sue for libel. For that reason, this book is full of lies about a lot of dead people. Once and for all I would like to debunk the silly story about Hepburn taking anyone along on her honeymoon. Laura Harding didn't go on Katharine Hepburn's honeymoon. Hepburn and her husband Ludlow Smith, who was definitely not gay, went to Bermuda on their honeymoon. Harding was in Paris with her mother. See the New York Times, December 14, 1928, page 40 and New York Times, January 8, 1929, page 30. Laura left for Paris on December 14, 1928 two days after Kate got married on December 12, 1928. Laura was still in Paris when her father died on January 4, 1929 in New York and when he was buried on January 8, 1929. Needless to say, nobody else went along on the Hepburn/Smith honeymoon either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book gives up the charming, remarkable Katharine Hepburn as no other book has before. So far, it¿s the most fascinating celebrity biography I¿ve ever read, although it seems to have outraged her most diehard fans. Too bad. It¿s a great read. Although Miss Hepburn was a rather bony woman, Darwin Porter gives her flesh and bones in this remarkable, riveting portrait. Shrewdly objective, yet sympathetic in tone, the book re-creates her life and times and does so exceedingly well. The book should be read for the new light it sheds on the character, career, and armours (both male and female) of this remarkable American woman, who was my all-time favorite movie star. I¿m delighted to know that she had a private life, too, although one filled with her share of woe like all of us experience. A vivid and perceptive portrait of the greatest female film star of the 20th Century.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An erroneous and misguided report is being posted that Katharine Hepburn did not take Laura Harding, The American Express Heiress with her on her honeymoon. This is complete misinformation. I am writing a social history of Bermuda, and in my research I discovered a picture of Laura Harding, Katharine Hepburn, and her Husband, Ludlow Ogden Smith, along with a male friend, taken on her DELAYED honeymoon. Many people do not go on a honeymoon immediately after their wedding. In my case, my wife and I waited for one year before going on our honeymoon. Sometimes a little information is a dangerous thing, especially when posted a gospel truth. In fact, I intend to include an entire chapter in my book on Hepburn¿s honeymoon in Bermuda with Laura Harding and her husband. Darwin Porter got it right! In spite of moronic attacks on his research, Porter has done an amazing job of revealing the life of a closeted star. He also got to speak to many of the people who knew the details of Hepburn¿s life in his work in Hollywood in the 60s and 70s when they were still alive. He also had contact with people who knew the star diva in the 20s and 30s. I applaud this achievement, and found Katharine the Great the single greatest movie star bio I¿ve ever encountered.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the spring of 1958 I was driving north with some college buddies from New Haven to Hartford, Connecticut. We caught up with a classic 1948 Lincoln Continental bearing the custom license plate KATE. It had to be someone special and we were not disappointed. As we cruised past we immediately recognized the unmistakable patrician profile of Katharine Hepburn, driving herself, alone in the camel-colored convertible. Her mouth held the hint of a smile; an aura of superiority and mystery surrounded her. We tried not to stare. (OK, we were gawking.) She wore that mantle of mystery all her life, thanks to her skill in keeping the press at bay, until her passing in 2003 at age 96. Author Darwin Porter, following his remarkable 2003 book on the private life of Humphrey Bogart, has surpassed himself with this incredibly detailed biography of one of the 20th century¿s premier stage and movie stars. ¿Write anything about me you like,¿ she told Porter, ¿just don¿t ever tell the truth.¿ Sorry, Kate. Here comes the truth. Even as a child Katharine Hepburn was a self-centered, headstrong, tomboy. After graduating from Bryn Mawr she launched her acting career on the East Coast, just as Humphrey Bogart did, with the help of friends in the theater business. Her agent (and later, lover) Leland Hayward, encouraged her to head to Hollywood, where the big money was. The studios didn¿t know what to make of her, demanding (and receiving!) ten times what first-time movie actresses were being paid. When her train pulled into Los Angeles¿ Union Station in July 1932, she had a $6,000 RKO one-picture contract under her arm and an attitude that preceded her like a snowplow. She never looked back. Although Katharine the Great catalogs her work on 25 films up until 1950, including how close she came to landing the role of Scarlett O¿Hara (opposite Errol Flynn?) in Gone With the Wind, the author focuses on what happened behind the movie camera¿on the set and off. There is not room here to discuss her hapless husband or list the 30-year diary of Hepburn¿s intimacies, from Jimmy Stewart, Howard Hues and Spencer Tracy to Greta Garbo, Claudette Colbert and Judy Garland, meticulously chronicled by Porter. The key question is how did he do it? Half a century and more after the fact? The answer lies in the unlikely confluence of three facts: A) Porter¿s mother began a scrapbook on Hepburn back in the 1920s, and Porter kept it up; B) Katharine couldn¿t keep from gossiping about herself to close friends who later recalled all too well the private life she revealed, and C) Porter became an entertainment journalist, interviewing literally hundreds of people over a period of decades who knew and worked with Hepburn during her long career. Every source is annotated in a 21-page afterword, name by name. He also met Miss Hepburn through his employer, Tennessee Williams, and had the opportunity to interview her. If you are curious about the four-time Oscar winner once dubbed ¿Katharine of Arrogance,¿ and would like to peek under her covers and into her closets, this thorough volume will more than satisfy your curiosity. Be warned, Porter¿s research is not for prudes. If this book were a movie it would carry an R rating, for grownups only. Stay tuned. Darwin Porter isn¿t done yet; he promises more on Katharine Hepburn in Volume II.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The life of the indomitable grande dame of American actresses, Katharine Hepburn, covering the years between her birth in 1907 and the debut of her role in The African Queen in 1950 is extensively revealed for the first time in Darwin Porter¿s groundbreaking biography: Katharine the Great. At long last, the secretive, closeted world of the 20th century¿s most acclaimed female film star is exposed. The New Englander screen legend died in June 2003 at the age of 96 in her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Biographer Darwin Porter began gathering material for his book on Hepburn in 1960 when he first became a Hollywood reporter. He knew that it could never be published during Hepburn¿s lifetime. ¿At one point I was afraid she might outlive me,¿ Porter said. Porter reflects, ¿I first met Hepburn at her Manhattan Turtle Bay residence, introduced to me by Tennessee Williams where he was trying to persuade Hepburn to appear on the stage opposite Bette Davis in The Night of the Iguana. She turned him down.¿ ¿Although Miss Hepburn gave me insights into many subjects, including what she thought about depicting `perversion¿ on the screen, she provided not one clue about her own life and when she learned from friends that I was compiling extensive documentation on her,¿ she said, ¿Write whatever you want about me¿but never the truth. No, not that!¿ Porter chose not to obey Hepburn¿s demand. With the imminent publication of Katharine the great, the door to Hepburn¿s closet is about to be thrown wide open. Laura Harding (1902-1994) and Spencer Tracy, Hepburn¿s two greatest loves, could hardly abide each other, Porter says. ¿But they maintained an uneasy truce with each other for the sake of mutual love, Hepburn.¿ Porter maintains that in some respects Ms. Harding was even more vital in her role as Hepburn¿s love than Tracy. The Hepburn/Harding romance begain in 1928, and their affair continued throughout both of their lives. Hepburn visited Harding often during her years of infirm health, and at her deathbed. ¿I maintain the greatest respect for Katharine Hepburn,¿ Porter said, ¿but she was never truthful about her own life. Of course, given the homophobia that still exists in Hollywood today, that¿s completely understandable. Even in her later years when her career was out of harm¿s way, this great screen diva never made even a small gesture of support to the struggling gay and lesbian movement in America,¿ Page by page, chapter by chapter the carefully researched and documented Katharine the Great sheds light on America¿s icon of feminist strength, with her chiseled beauty and patrician bearing. The lights of Broadway dimmed to honor Hepburn¿s death but the bulbs turned on again in this startling book. ¿Everybody, it seemed, had a story or stories) to tell about Hepburn, from Tennessee Williams, Bette Davis, Gregory Hemingway (son of Ernest), Marlene Dietrich, director George Cukor, actress Ruth Gordon, and Garson Kanin, who wrote Adam¿s Rib and other screenplays specifically for Spencer Tracy and Hepburn,¿ Porter said. Porter also had access to the journals of Anderson Lawler, a minor actor known mainly in Hollywood history for his love affair with Gary Cooper. Lawler¿s manuscript was deemed unpublishable in his day because of its libelous tell-all contents. Porter also drew extensively on the journals of actor Kenneth MacKenna, whom Hepburn always referred to as ¿my original deflowerer.¿ Porter also used the extensive journals of his former writing partner, Stanley Haggart, who knew Hepburn intimately during the 1930s and 1940s and was a close personal friend of Hepburn¿s only husband, ¿Luddy.¿ Both Haggart and Porter knew George Cukor, who provided valuable insights and stories but with the stipulation that nothing was to be published during his lifetime or during Hepburn¿s lifetime. There¿a a carload of other biographies about Hepburn that either got the facts wrong or whitewashed them. But here at last is
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hi, I would modestly consider myself an expert on Hepburn having read all the biographies , the articles and even recently seen some of her private letters . I can tell you that this biography lacks even the slightest attempt at credibility - no research has been done and Porter relies on unsubstantiated rumours and third rate sources - all conveniently dead . If Porter had done the most basic research he would have discovered that Laura did not attend Katharine's honeymoon - she was on a boat to Paris at the time - didn't even attend the wedding since they were not good friends at that time . That the box office poison happened in 1937 - not 1938- blows the suicide attempt out of the water . This book is so badly written and there's not even an attempt to document the interviews or source some of the most outrageous rumours - does anybody believe that Spencer Tracy had shock treatment - it would have left his memory shot to pieces and finished his career as an actor .At one stage Porter even uses an unpublished interview from Confidential Magazine and then admits that the author needed the money - hello - does this source lack credibility ? And the dialogue is ludicrous . Says more about Porter than Katharine kwatling
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thirteen days after the death of Katherine Hepburn last year, celebrity biographer A. Scott Berg published 'Kate Remembered,' reflecting 20 years of interviews with the legendary screen luminary. Almost immediately, The Advocate labeled the tome, 'a mixture of cautious disclosure and obsequious deference' and threw down the gauntlet for someone willing to go behind the carefully constructed public persona Hepburn protected throughout her eight decades in film. Celebrity expose author Darwin Porter accepted the challenge, and this Valentine's Day, released 'Katherine the Great: A Lifetime ofSecrets Revealed,' a mammoth volume presenting a wealth of evidence that the late, great Kate was not necessarily straight. In this 570-page unauthorized biography. Porter delves into the spicy sexual conquests of the Connecticut born and bred actress and her cadre of high-profile companions. Although Porter looks at Hepburn's early childhood, the suicide of her brother Tom, her marriage to 'Luddy,' Ludlow Ogden Smith, and her career, he focuses largely on the relationship between Hepburn and American Express heiress Laura Harding. The wealth of evidence he provides indicates Hepburn was indeed bisexual, or a 'double-gater' as it was called, and that she and Harding conducted a closeted, long-term relationship from 1928 until Harding's death in 1994, a relationship that over-lapped her seven-year 'lavender marriage' to Luddy that began the same year. It is difficult to imagine that, even in the 1930s, it was customary for a new bride and groom to bring companions on their honeymoon, as did Hepburn with Harding, and Luddy with his longtime companion Jack Clark. Even Berg's more discrete bio mentions Harding, noting that, after her marriage to Luddy, Hepburn moved to Hollywood and 'continued to live quietly in the hills with Laura Harding (furthering speculation of a lesbian relationship).' Hepburn's longtime relationship with Spencer Tracy seems to have found her in more of a caretaker role than that of a lover. Berg notes that, 'As she told me that first night in Fenwick [where her Connecticut home was located], 'I never wanted to marry Spencer Tracy.' But then Hepburn, her first marriage notwithstanding, was not much the marrying kind, reputed instead to be partial to 10-day, whirlwind relationships with her peers in the film industry. Among those Porter names are film editor Jane Loring, actresses Greta Garbo Billie Burke, and Elissa Landi, writers Suzanne Steele and Ernest Hemingway, and directors George Stevens, Jed Harris, anfd John Ford, as well as more lengthy relationships with her agent, Leland Hayward, millionaire playboy Howard Hues, and Tracy. Hepburn was among the most private women in Hollywood. Porter recounts a conversation between her and producer Pandro S. Berman, during which he warns her to keep her orientation quiet, saying, 'If there's a lesbian scandal about you, it could sink our ship.' According to Porter, Hepburn responded, 'Trust me Pandro...I am not a lesbian,' to which he reportedly responds, 'Perhaps you are not a lesbian. But you didn't deny that you're bisexual.' 'Katherine the Great' takes an in depth look at a Hepburn the public never knew, presenting information gleaned from interviews with Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead, Patricia Peardon, Truman Capote, Garson Kanin and his wife Ruth Gordon, Hepburn's 'deflowerer' Kenneth MacKenna, and set designer Stanley Haggart. The conclusion that Hepburn set the terms of Berg's biography is inescapable. But we must also concede that the work of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who spent weekends with Hepburn from 1983 until her death offers more than a few insights about her nevertheless. But where Berg keeps silent, Porter revels in exposing the colorful underbelly of Hollywood at its most exclusive heights, and he does not disappoint in 'Katherine the Great.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the single best movie star biography that I have ever read. I felt that I was getting a view of inside Hollywood that had never been presented before. The book was based on the opinions of the people who both loved and hated Katharine Hepburn, and I felt that it was written from an 'insiderish' point of view. It was a GREAT read. This book is fabulous, and I'm delighted to have read it. Thanks to Darwin Porter for his efforts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hi, What are we to make of a book where even the photographs are wrongly captioned . Poorly researched, exploitative and inaccurate. You get the impression that Katharine Hepburn had no friends - since it only mentions alleged sexual partners of which there is no proof for 99% of the relationships. But hey the author must have a sense of humour . Laugh at the dialogue where Kate uses words that did not appear in the dictionary until the 1960's . Every male star is well endowed and absolutely everybody is bisexual . Most ridiculous scene -Katharine making out in full view in her car with Charles Boyer on the RKO lot . nuplex88
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a disgusting assassination of Miss Katharine Hepburn's life and career. Miss Hepburn is no longer alive to defend herself. A Cheap way to make a buck!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My favorite movie actress, Katharine Hepburn, is a lot less mysterious after reading this enthralling book. The amazing thing about Miss Hepburn's life is that no one has, until now, published anything with any meat in it. Compiled over many a year, from many eyewitnesses, this is a treasure trove of data beautifully organized and compiled into one blockbuster of a read. Our modern images of Miss Hepburn are those of an old lady, as exemplified by On Golden Pond. It's marvaleous to know that she was once young and beautiful, and led a life filled with joy, pain, sorrow and regrets--like you and me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is nonsense. Porter fabricates events, conversations, gets the dates on known events wrong. This is a new low in celebrity biography.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's daring, and it's provocative, and it doesn't read as if the author is besotted with Hepburn the movie goddess. And it told me a lot about stuff that mamma NEVER told me when she took me to see PHILADELPHIA STORY. Overall, it retained my deep respect for Hepburn the artist, for whom, basically, I'd forgive any foible.