Podcast: Play in new window
May 12th marks the 104th anniversary of Katharine Houghton Hepburn’s birth. To celebrate the birth of this tsunami of talent, The Scarlett Olive talked to the ultimate fan girl – Martha Wade Steketee. If you didn’t listen to the show (shame on you), Martha is a dramaturg who lives in New York City and loves the theatricality of life and the wonder of acting and the stage. One of the biggest influences of her life was the great Kate Hepburn, and we hear her appreciation as she graciously guest starred on our show.
So, what makes Kate so great?
Katharine Hepburn is a winning mixture of all the things that make an admirable actress: strength, intelligence, wit, professionalism…and a lot of heart. She had the ability to pull off screwball comedy as Susan Vance in Bringing Up Baby (1938), be a woman of the world as Tess Harding in Woman of the Year (1941), and an understanding mother in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) and On Golden Pond (1981). What is compelling about Katharine Hepburn’s career is her ability to age gracefully through her roles. In a world of Botox and cosmetic surgery frenzy, it is rare to find an actress who is willing to…act her age. When Katharine was young, she played young roles. When she was middle aged, she chose age-appropriate roles such as Bunny Watson in Desk Set (1957). As an elderly woman, she proudly wore her wrinkles and silver roots in such roles as Grace Quigley (1985) and the endearing Cornelia Beaumont in the TV movie, One Christmas (1994).
Katharine Hepburn's surprise appearance at a George Cukor tribute in 1978. Thanks to Martha for sending us this photo!
Having great attributes and the ability to age gracefully are not the only things that make Kate so “great.” She has star quality. Her personality transcends the screen – whether that is big screen, television, laptop, or iPod – and touches viewers of every generation by those attributes that define her. Her spunkiness is attractive to the young at heart, her hopeful youth roles are relatable to young viewers trying to place themselves in the world, but it is her fascination for life that makes all viewers excited to be living. An actress who can make a viewer feel invigorated sixty – seventy years after a film is made must be “great.” This love of life can also be experienced by reading her autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life.
A portrait for LIFE magazine in 1968 by Terence Spencer. Thanks to Martha again for the photo!
If you listened to the show and enjoyed Martha’s enthusiasm, you can follow her thoughts on life and theatre through her two blogs. Martha’s musings on everyday life can be found here: www.mattiewade.wordpress.com . If you are interested in her theatre reviews, click on the following link: www.msteketee.wordpress.com
We also recommend the Katharine Hepburn hit parody on Youtube, Katie’s Corner. Alexandra Billings respectfully brings “Katie” back to life by producing “how-to” videos which end up becoming a showcase for her zany antics and hilarious stories about Hollywood stars of the past.
Watch Pumpkin Pancakes.