Thursday, 27 October 2011

"Me: Stories of My Life" by Katharine Hepburn

{I scanned all of these pictures - except the cover - come from my copy of "Me: Stories Of My Life" and the links link back to posts I've written}

I actually read the hardcover as it has more photos, but this one looks prettier :-)

Over the summer and the last little while, my family and I have been watching more Katharine Hepburn films than we used to. My sister and I convinced my parents to re-watch Adam's Rib and we all adored it so we ordered the Tracy/Hepburn signature collection (Woman Of The Year, Adam's Rib, Pat And Mike, The Keeper Of The Flame) and we loved them! We also re-watched Little Women, The Philadelphia Story,  and Bringing Up Baby and added to the list of "watcheds" Holiday, Stage Door, Rooster Cogburn, Desk Set and State Of The Union. Most of which had been elusively hiding in our half-watched Katharine Hepburn box-set. But then we also watched her documentary on the other disc of our copy of The Philadelphia Story, "Me, A Self Portrait" where she talks directly to the audience about her life, and we loved it. And after watching all of those films and the documentary she gained a spot in our top 5.

Recently I picked up two good nick second hand copies of her books, "Me: Stories Of My Life" and "The Making of The African Queen or How I Went To Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind". They had to be second hand because the latter is out of print and I wanted a hardcover copy of her autobiography because apparently the publishers took away quite a few of the lovely pictures when they published the paperback, and I was in no position to pay £30 for a new copy. Luckily, when my copies arrived, they were good as new inside so great for scanning! YAY! So I finished "Little Women" (which was amazing, by the way) and started "Me". I finished it last night, sitting in bed weeping over the ending and knew that it certainly deserved a post.

Baby Kate

The book starts with her describing her childhood in Connecticut and carries on until the present day when she wrote the book in 1991.

When she shaved her head and called herself "Jimmy"

Father and Mother:

It's full of lovely anecdotes and the whole book is written just as she would speak (you can tell this if you've seen interviews with her or the aforementioned documentary) and it's lovely.

With her father

She is pretty random, but then I guess I'm pretty random too so maybe us random people can understand each other ;-D, but if you aren't into things like "the funny thing is that he never had a drink. Nothing at all, when he came to our house. We were friends for years. Oh, I meant to tell you. I was standing on my head the other day and I got to thinking how probably unusual it is for someone of my age to do this." Or when she starts writing the recipe for currant cake while talking about filming on location in Wales then you might be a bit like, "What?"

But I loved it... Kind of reminded me of moments in my science essays on my blog (Just kidding. Hahahaha. No.) I think it added to the more chatty format of the book.

Early play

There are some great parts of this book, such as her touching "letters" to Spencer Tracy near the end,

and her hilarious account of gardening with David Lean,

In her film with David Lean, Summertime

 and the accounts of all the favourite movies she made, and her chapter about George Cukor,

With George Cukor

 and of course her beloved family, too. But really, the gardening chapter is pretty funny. It goes from she, a friend and David Lean buying flowers and shrubs in a garden centre for the bottom of her garden at Fenwick (her family home), to her swearing and saying "F*** the roots! I thought; I'm going to die. What about my roots? These people are like a machine", and "I'm going to stay out here and struggle until they quit or until I die." It's really funny. Something not so funny, however was how she survived the 1938 hurricane, but her house was swept right away.

"Fenwick now" 1991

Out of the three autobiographies I've read ("Home" by Julie Andrews, "The Lonely Life" by Bette Davis and this) I think I enjoyed this the most. The other two were great, and the Julie Andrews one was interesting even though it only covers her early life (up until Mary Poppins), but they had something missing just a little, and I don't think it was neccesarily their fault.

"Early acting efforts"

Bette Davis chose to write hers when she was still only in her 50s and she really was quite bitter about some things. She had a tough time and it showed in her attitude a bit. Julie Andrews wrote a really good autobiography, but I can't actually judge her whole story properly until the next chapter is written... come on Julie!

With her sisters

But Katharine Hepburn obviously had a very positive outlook and a good time in life.

The Broadway play of "The Philadelphia Story"

She had a nice, secure family life and that is always the foundation for someone having an optimistic and overall happy life, I think. There were a few tragedies, she discovered her older brother hanging from a piece of bed sheet at a friend's house, but they never knew if it was suicide or an accident. Really heartbreaking, so she became the eldest. But she coped alright becuase she had a great family behind her backing her all the way.

With Franklin Roosevelt

I would most certainly recommend that you read this book if you haven't already. Even if you aren't the biggest Katharine Hepburn fan.

Practicing golf for Bringing Up Baby

It's a really nice and easy read full of wonderful sentiment without ever getting over the top or irritating. I also think this is one of the first times she says what her actual birthday is, 12th May 1907. When I told my mum about that and Katharine Hepburn's problems with her voice, she said "Ah, she's a taurus! No wonder she gets a bad throat." I love my mum.

Me and my mum are both of the taurus star-sign (17th May and 21st April respectively) so that was pretty funny, especially as we both sometimes get throat problems. I did after I had a part in Bugsy Malone which called for screeching and then screaming, "There's No Business Like Show Business" at the top of my voice... I digress. Minus a few incidents, she's a great role model for women, and I can honestly say that it would be awesome to be like her when I grow up ;-D. Seriously, GO READ IT! I loved it. It's a great way to spend a little while :-)

Skateboarding. Just too cool.



Caftan Woman said...

Hello fellow Taurean!

If you pressed my daughter (a Libran) to name a favourite classic actress I know she would choose Katharine Hepburn. I think a copy of that book would make a great surprise in her Christmas stocking. Of course, then I'll be able to read it as well.

StanwyckFan said...

This sounds like a good book! (Even if I don't like Katherine Hepburn). I did read her book about THE AFRICAN QUEEN - I loved that one.

Heather said...

Read it years ago and remember its being immensely funny despite the tragedy in her life. She was, as they say, a character.

Amanda said...

Hi ! Just discovered your blog, pretty nice :)
I haven't read Me : stories of my life yet, still trying to find a copy. Though, I read The making of the African Queen and LOVED it !

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