Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn


Read the title carefully; then read it again. Just about everything in this marvelous book has been weighed and assessed more than is usual. William Mann doesn’t settle for the obvious, the given, the rubber stamp. And so, it seems to me, we’re being gently guided before the book begins. For if there was a phenomenon, a storm, a force or a myth that would be called “Hepburn” long before her death (and for how long afterwards we do not know), then is it possible that “Kate” was the girl, the woman, the body that bore up under the legend? There’s something rare and frightening about actors and actresses. It amounts to a kind of religious worship in which these figures are experienced, “known” by millions of strangers, “loved” by those who will never meet them, when they—the person inside, the person wearing the name and the legend—may sometimes realize, “Well, there’s not much left for me, is there?” You may remember that Katharine Hepburn called her own book (published in 1991, and emphatically not ghostwritten) Me, as if she had always had the fear of being left out. I can only add that if she’d lived to face Mr. Mann’s book, I think she would have put it down, dry-eyed but full of tears, and admitted, quietly: “me.”

more from the NY Observer here.