Kate: The Woman who was Katharine Hepburn by William J Mann - review by Frank McLynn

Frank McLynn

The Hoyden Within

Kate: The Woman who was Katharine Hepburn


Faber 600pp £17.99

More nonsense and claptrap has been written about Katharine Hepburn than about any other personality in the movies. Mostly this is because Hepburn herself gave new meaning to the word ‘manipulative’: she could have given masterclasses on spin to Alistair Campbell and on reinvention to Madonna. If the blemish in William Mann’s book is an almost total failure to analyse the many films she appeared in, its great merit is that it deconstructs the Hepburn legend, lets in daylight and allows us to sift the facts (mainly detrimental to Hepburn’s reputation) from the fantasy she and her agents sedulously peddled.

What strikes one most of all is that Hepburn was almost supernaturally lucky. She flopped in movie after movie but – just when the public looked set to give a definitive heave-ho to an actress who went out of her way to advertise her contempt for her public, flaunting her

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