Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn

Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn

by William J. Mann
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Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn by William J. Mann

The first major Katharine Hepburn biography independent of her control reveals the smart, complicated, and sophisticated woman behind the image

Onscreen she played society girls, Spencer Tracy's sidekick, lionesses in winter. But the best character Katharine Hepburn ever created was Katharine Hepburn: a Connecticut Yankee, outspoken and elegant, she wore pants whatever the occasion and bristled at Hollywood glitter. So captivating was her image that she never seemed less than authentic. But how well did we know her, really? Was there a woman behind the image who was more human, more driven, and ultimately more triumphant because of her vulnerability?

William J. Mann—a cultural historian and journalist, a sympathetic admirer but no mere fan—has fashioned an intimate, often revisionist, and truly unique close-up that challenges much of what we think we know about the Great Kate. Previous biographies—mostly products of friends and fans—have recycled the stories she hid behind, taking Hollywood myths at face value. Mann goes deeper, delivering new details from friends and family who have not been previously interviewed and drawing on materials only available since Hepburn's death.

With affection, intelligence, and a voluminous knowledge of Hollywood history, Mann shows us how a woman originally considered too special and controversial for fame learned the fine arts of movie stardom and transformed herself into an icon as durable and all-American as the Statue of Liberty.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429921978
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 526,085
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

William J. Mann has written for The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, The Hartford Courant, Salon, and other publications. He is the author of Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger; Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood; and Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines. He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

William J. Mann is a journalist and the author of Edge of Midnight, Behind the Screen, and Wisecracker. He lives in Palm Springs, California.

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Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite "rainy day, pjs and popcorn" scenarios have always included a marathon of Hepburn and Tracy films. Their chemistry has always enchanted me - and I, to this day, cannot get through the final monologue by Tracy in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" without losing tears. This book took my appreciation for them to a new height. Perhaps because it humanizes them and I recognize their frailties within the circles of my own life. They lived, loved and survived in a world so very different and harsher than the one I know. There was no live and let live. Whether or not this author has told us the "real" truth or not, I cannot say. But, I sipped the koolaid, went along for the ride, and at the last page, somehow I wasn't shocked that the curtain has been pulled open on them, I simply wished I could put it back for them.
RKL More than 1 year ago
Yes, not only is Hepburn bisexual, *everyone* else mentioned in the book is either gay or bi too. When you do some research and learn that Mann writes about "gay issues," one can't help but suspect that he's got an agenda. And hey, doesn't this approach automatically distinguish his "biography" from all the other Hepburn bios already out there? Gotta give people a reason to shell out $ for your book, and reviewers a reason to write about it! Also problmatic are Mann's sources; the few who do go on record had been dead for years before this book was published, so obviously he didn't have to worry about anyone challenging his claims or suing him. Maybe Hepburn was bisexual, but he really goes overboard with circumstantial evidence and his need to make everyone else gay too; he ends up ignoring any evidence to the contrary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow. This book is amazing. I'm not sure how to explain its format.. while it does indeed tell the story of her life, it's a bit broad but only because it focuses more on her determination to design and brilliantly maintain her iconic status. After reading multiple multiple multiple books on Kate (or as she likes to say, 'The Creature') I was just stunned by this book. There are some pretty shocking things revealed for the first time about her relationship with Spencer Tracy and the nature of it. Also, the -GASP!- sexuality of our Great Kate is explored to a great extent. Believe me folks- this is probably the closest to the truth about this woman you can get. Did you think Me: Stories of My Life was the truth and nothing but? Think again! This quote might describe Kate's colorful way of recalling past events.. 'The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels. It is always the false ones that seem the most real, the most brilliant.' If everything she's ever said and done is just part of some master plan.. then guess what? We've been had. She's been gone for over 3 years and people are still buzzing about her just as much, if not more, than when she was with us. Her plan worked. And this book will tell you exactly how this plan was designed and brilliantly executed. READ IT!
CheliD More than 1 year ago
Just about every biography of Katharine Hepburn was written and influenced by Katharine Hepburn herself, however, this book was undertaken after her death and the research that was used were paper trails - itineraries of ships, trains, planes, along with schedules for theater shows, etc. Mann also explored her sexuality in a way not previously defined. He insinuates at times that she was gay, transgender, bisexual, but never comes to a conclusion. However, I'm not sure how well we can accept the stories that he tells. Someone else's life will always seem different to other people than to the person who lived it. This book said many things about Katharine Hepburn as well as Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, and Howard Hughes but whether you care to believe it, is your choice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read every biography on the great Kate, what I love about this one is that it offers a whole new world of "what if?" regarding her life. This author offers a lot of new theories regarding her unique life. I wouldn't assume all of its true, but I did feel like I had a lot of answers regarding her relationship with Spencer Tracy answered. I never understood her attraction to him, and this book gave a lot of sound reasons that it could have in fact been, a very great friendship.
Guest More than 1 year ago
William Mann is a wonderfully prodigious writer equally at home with fiction and non-fiction. His gay-themed novels THE MEN FROM THE BOYS, WHERE THE BOYS ARE and ALL AMERICAN BOY are moving, sexy, shocking and a true depiction of gay male life in our time. Mann's non fiction books are also astonishing. From the wit and wisdom of WISECRACKER (the life and times of William Haines) to the finally told secrets in BEHIND THE SCREEN to his affectionate and authoratative biography of John Schlesinger, Mann has shed light on the film world where no light was previously allowed. He does the same detective work in KATE. I thought I had read all that I needed to about the indominatable Kate Hepburn. I was wrong. This book peers behind the myths and legends and looks at the actress with blemishes intact. Mann does a great and lasting service to the Great Kate because he lifts her from the puff PR pieces and reveals her to be infinitely more fascinating, courageous and human than she herself could. This book is another page turner by Mann. His prodigious talents cannot be praised enough. Would that every great actor and director could be studied and painted with the penn of William Mann. Bravo!
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