Talk:Katharine Hepburn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Featured article Katharine Hepburn is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on May 12, 2012.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
June 25, 2005 Peer review Reviewed
October 8, 2011 Peer review Reviewed
December 1, 2011 Good article nominee Listed
February 15, 2012 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article

Hepburn's "partner"[edit]

Can someone be listed as someone else's "partner" when one of those people is actually married to and living with someone else? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:27, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Tracy didn't live with his wife at all after about 1940 (before he'd even met KH). The Hepburn-Tracy relationship pretty much defies categorisation, it was very odd, but "partner" is the closest we'll get. --Lobo (talk) 13:53, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm with Lobo on this. Remember that the word "partner" has many meanings. It is a shame that young people wrongly assume that its meaning is always 'living together' and sexual in nature. I myself was married and living somewhere else, but the love of my life was my real partner, who was not my husband (and refused to divorce me). MagnoliaSouth (talk) 17:01, 12 May 2012 (UTC)


The article states in the lede: "Known for her headstrong independence and spirited personality", and similarly in the body. I'm a bit confused over this vocabulary choice and I don't think you mean it with the connotation it has. I also checked one of the three references used in the body in association and did not see this word used, nor a synonym for it. Headstrong has a connotation of obstinacy—a synonym might be "bullheaded". A horse that won't follow your directions is "headstrong". To describe a person positively as self-willed, determined, independent etc., which I think is what you mean, one would not properly use "headstrong". I would suggest "resolute" or "steadfast" as a replacement. -- (talk) 19:43, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

I can't comment for the rest of the world but as a native speaker of British English I could interpret "Headstrong" as applied to a person to be suitable for describing a person as positively self-willed, determined, independent etc., the exact meaning that I would deduce would depend on context. --Thefrood (talk) 19:57, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
The OED provides: "Of persons: Determined to have one's own way or to pursue one's own course; wilful, obstinate; violently self-willed" and "Of things, actions, etc.: Characterized by or proceeding from wilfulness or obstinacy."-- (talk) 20:04, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
No, it doesn't necessarily mean "positively self-willed" at all, Kate's unbending self-determination was definitely viewed as disagreeable by many people from that era (and still today). I think "headstrong" encapsulates it perfectly: she was quite aggressively ambitious, and was prepared to take anything. No, the exact word isn't used in the sources, but that's because we're encouraged to use our own language. Here are a selection of quotes though merely from one of the sources used in the "Public image" section, which I think more than jusitfy the use of the word "headstrong":
"Katharine Hepburn's strong sense of self caught people's attention"; "Spirited, direct, in charge of her own fate,"; "On screen, even her faults were enviable -- she was too outspoken, too determined, too sure of herself"; "She was, above all, a woman of character"; "her lack of sentimentality, her sublime self-assurance, her confident expectations of those around her"; "She was angular and pushy, but she knew how to play with it. She refused to go away, and pretty soon we all loved her"; "George Cukor always said the most extraordinary thing about her was that she didn't ask to be loved, or even liked ... She was naturally independent"; "There was not an ounce of self-pity in her ... She believed in looking life in the eye and not having any illusions, which many of her contemporaries could not do, and that destroyed them. People came to admire her fearlessness"; "She was her own woman when that simply wasn't done". --Lobo (talk) 23:54, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
On careful consideration, I concur with Lobo's interpretation. "Headstrong" is the most precisely descriptive word in this context.—DCGeist (talk) 01:58, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
No, if her independent nature was viewed as "headstrong", as disagreeable during her era, you need to say that, not state it as if she was for all purposes. The implication of the current text is that she "was an obstinate woman", period, today, not a "self-willed, independent spirited woman, who during her heyday was viewed as being 'headstrong'". By analogy, this reads no differently as describing in an article on a black person from the 40s, who was viewed as "an uppity negro" during their era, that they were that description, not that they were viewed that way during their racist era. You need to modify this.-- (talk) 08:28, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
The analogy is inapt. "Uppity" is exclusively and crassly derogatory; "headstrong" is far from that.—DCGeist (talk) 19:51, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
You're wrong. A "headstrong young woman" was a common mantra used by men to describe women who did not know their place (in the kitchen; not going to school and trying to compete with men and gain equal footing). You are speaking as only a young man who does not understand what a woman's life was like 50 years ago. where women had their "place".-- (talk) 13:25, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
I'd actually been out for a friend's birthday last night and was still a bit drunk when I wrote that, heh, and think I got a bit carried away. Calling her "unbending" and "aggressively ambitious" was unfair - I don't think she was that bad! But still, I think the examples I gave from that source (the Mary McNamara LA Times article, which is great at summarising Hepburn) show her as "headstrong". And from all the many things I've read about Kate, I feel very confident that she was "headstrong" and this is the way she was/is viewed by the public (admired for it by some, derided for it by others). I've looked at the Webster's dictionary definitions (1 Not easily restrained, impatient of control, advice, or suggestions; 2 Directed by ungovernable will) and still feel happy this is backed up by the sources.
By the way, thanks to everyone who kept an eye on this page yesterday during the TFA. I had to be out for the second half of the day but it was in good hands. --Lobo (talk) 09:08, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
You do not understand the role this particular word has had in suppression of women. It is well known code. You do not understand at all. I would not mind if the article said she was known for being obstinate, if that's what the sources say. But don't use headstrong.-- (talk) 13:25, 14 May 2012 (UTC)


What is the purpose of the sic after "twenty-seven years" in the Spencer Tracy section? There is nothing obviously wrong here so far as I can see. I am sure she herself did not interrupt herself with the word. If the sic is original to the cited source it should be explained (e.g., really spent 37 years together) or at least marked as original in our text. Otherwise the reader wonders why wikipedia is bringing a non-existent error to his attention.

Well I don't know if it is supposed to be only for grammatical mistakes - I personally thought it was for any sort of error - but it is useful to tell the reader that this is a mistake. And much easier than by doing it through a footnote... Otherwise people will be thinking "Why does it say 27 years in the text and 26 years in the caption? Which one is correct?" --Lobo (talk) 06:44, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

It says, "Hepburn famously shunned the Hollywood publicity machine..."[edit]

I just googled Katharine Hepburn images and I would say that the many hundreds of publicity stills which resulted suggest to me that Hepburn did not entirely shun the Hollywood publicity machine. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:43, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

Hmmm...well publicity photographs were just about the only form of promotion she did (up til her 60s), but I suppose that's a fair point. I'll think about rewording it. --Lobo (talk) 19:48, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
I think she meant she discouraged press coverage of her private life, as confirmed in the article. Valetude (talk) 13:09, 20 December 2015 (UTC)

Impressions of Hepburn[edit]

Kevin Spacey's for "Insde the Actors' Studio" was memorable.

Is there a way to list such distinctive impressions ? (talk) 20:15, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Martin Shorts impressions on SNL also. He has talked about meeting Hepburn, at a Broadway play.Halconen (talk) 23:22, 23 March 2018 (UTC)

Excellent site[edit]

This site is very good! Kultoa (talk) 03:09, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Audrey Hepburn?[edit]

Was there ever any connection between the two? Were comparisons ever made? Did they meet? I think people would like to know. Audrey's designer thought he was going to work for Katherine and was dissappointed accoring to her Page.

IceDragon64 (talk) 22:43, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Why do we need to know any of that ? What, because they share the same surname? They were unrelated and not connected. I don't think we need to go into anymore detail than that purely for the fact that they shared a surname. Why compare them? Of course they met they were in the same business at the same time. I oppose any elaboration on the subject sorry. -- CassiantoTalk 00:43, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I think the fact that Audrey isn't mentioned once is enough to show people that they had nothing to do with each other. They were very different stars, born 20 years apart. If you are personally interested, I've never read anywhere about them meeting and to be honest its entirely plausible that they never did. Kate didn't attend Hollywood events or parties. She had never met Henry Fonda before making On Golden Pond, and that was after 50 years of working in the same industry. --Lobo (talk) 16:52, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia will typically make a direct statement regarding whether or not two people are related when it is a common question. I've just added a short statement to make it clear that they were not sisters nor mother-daughter. Without such a statement, readers are forced to search outside of Wikipedia to get their question answered.--Concord hioz (talk) 12:43, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Relationships section[edit]

In the section on "Relationships," a few sentences speculate that Hepburn was either a lesbian or bisexual, based on a book published after the subject's death. I understand that people get all hyped up when someone tries to delete things like this, but it should be deleted. I have read Mann's work, and it amounts to plain gossip, based on no actual evidence, written by someone trying to hawk a book that is otherwise a retread of information told many times before. Simply writing in a Wikipedia article that an author "says such and such" is not good enough for inclusion. If I put a similar claim on Michelle Obama's page it would be deleted in seconds; the same standard of rigorous evidence should apply for such a famous - albeit dead - person like Ms. Hepburn. Under the WP:BOLD policy I will edit this, and encourage discussion, but I suggest that reasons besides "He says so" should be offered to justify reverting it.Catherinejarvis (talk) 00:33, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Hello, thanks for starting a discussion about this. I'm the primary author of the article, and I can assure you that I also consider the lesbian/bisexual claims to be baseless rumours (and I have zero respect for William Mann - note that his book isn't used for anything else in the article). I decided to mention the issue, however, since it is something that comes up about Kate pretty often, and because this is a WP:FA, I felt I should probably include all different views points. I actually started a discussion about this when the article was at FAC, which you can see here, because I was unsure whether it was appropriate to include it or not. Looking at the discussion again, the response was pretty inconclusive, and it sounds like it wouldn't be a problem not to include a reference to it...but ultimately, I expect all biographies on Kate from this point onwards to mention the lesbian rumours, even if it's just to dismiss them, which is why I feel like we should probably do the same thing (note that a responder there, who at the time was in charge of the FA process, said "we should defer to the reliable sources and do what they do.") The claim is very quickly dismissed by Katharine Houghton's comment right after it (which is pretty useful to have in the article, so that anyone reading about Hepburn sees that her niece found no truth in the rumours). What do you/other think? --Loeba (talk) 18:37, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for including the FAC link; your thoughts have a good deal of merit. Admittedly this subject is a pet peeve of mine. I am suspicious of books that make such claims about celebrities after they are dead. In general I believe that omitting a claim entirely is better than citing an unproven claim which is refuted by someone else.Catherinejarvis (talk) 21:05, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

How many tabloid-type authors (such as Scott Bowers, whose truthfulness however has been attested by Gore Vidal), would have to assert that it in fact was clear to everyone who knew Hepburn personally that she had lesbian interests and relationships, before WPs studio-cleansed version of her personal life would begin to crack just a bit? I'm not sayin', just askin'. (talk) 18:53, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Just as an aside, Gore Vidal could attest to the veracity of Scotty Bowers as much as he wanted, but that doesn't make anything true. He said that he fixed Katharine Hepburn up with 150 women. I can't remember when he met her, but does this mean he was sending her women in Connecticut and New York, too? There are thousands of incorrect statements. I suggest - by a reporter who did historical research and debunked as much as he got through - he wrote 16 articles, I believe, on what he found.Chandler75 (talk) 06:25, 8 October 2015 (UTC)
Folks, this site is a source of info, and today I came to view this page specifically to see what it had to say about Kate's personal relationship life. There is a ton of info everywhere BUT here about it. Wiki readers will want to know something when they come here. She walked like a duck, quacked like a duck... and this page doesn't even slightly address whether or not she was a duck, or at least how much is known or has been said about it. It's insufficient in its current form, given the level of interest, and how major this factor is to her entire persona. She blazed trails by being a tough talking, pants wearing, spinster-portraying loner... throw us a breadcrumb here, was she assexual or lesbian or bi in her personal life? It's an obvious question for this case. Richard (talk) 17:34, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
I've added back the two or three sentences that used to be in the article, since I agree that it is a well known part of the "Hepburn myth" and it isn't right for us to ignore it completely. But I don't believe it should get any more attention than what's there now - all we need to say is that there's a rumour and people close to her have denied it. --Loeba (talk) 20:11, 17 March 2014 (UTC)


The word "progressive" is used several times in the article to describe Hepburn's politics, but I think it's an anachronism, in the sense that the word would not have been used to characterize her politics at the times being referred to. However, I wanted to double-check before I changed it to a more accurate "leftist," "liberal," or other such synonym. Calbaer (talk) 02:03, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

"Not a superior actress"?[edit]

I think it indicates some negative bias against Hepburn that the last statement on her "Performances" section says: "Icon or no icon, let's not confuse a truly fascinating and unique woman with a superior actress." Besides, acting is much more than just range, and to me no actor has ever had as much magnetism as Hepburn. But nonetheless that's just my opinion, that she's not a superior actress is an opinion too, and the way it's positioned it looks like a definitive statement on her acting capabilities rather, therefore I'm removing that part. Narciso003 (talk) 12:45, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

The article is generally very positive about Hepburn so the criticism is there to balance things out. It's also something that's said somewhat regularly about her so it's definitely appropriate to include it in the article. I'm one of Kate's biggest fans but I want us to be objective and realistic. I don't think it's definitive - it comes just after a statement stating that Kate is "one of America's most celebrated actresses" after all - and is clearly attributed to one person. I also rather like that even though the journalist dislikes Kate's acting he admits that she is "unique and fascinating" - that just sums up why she's so famous, you know? Adding info back based on this. --Loeba (talk) 15:03, 15 September 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough... Narciso003 (talk) 19:52, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

Should "aviatrix" be changed to "aviator"?[edit]

Should the word "aviatrix" be changed to "aviator" in the following usage?

Hepburn's second film was Christopher Strong (1933), the story of an aviatrix and her affair with a married man.

  • Yes. I thought that the discussion at WT:AVIATION § "Aviatrix" was sufficient to settle the matter—but not so.

    In my view, this change is required by Manual of Style § Gender-neutral language, which directs us to "[u]se gender-neutral language where [it] can be done with clarity and precision." It is also supported by the persuasive essay Writing About Women, which suggests that we "[u]se gender-neutral nouns when describing professions and positions: actor, author, aviator, bartender, chair, comedian, firefighter, flight attendant, hero, poet, police officer. Avoid adding gender (female pilot, male nurse) unless the topic requires it." This is not a quote; we are simply describing the film in our own words, and we ought to avoid dated language in doing so.

    MarnetteD argues that we ought to use historically accurate language, and his citation to OTHERSTUFF appears to suggest that the articles about the Civil Rights Movement ought to use the historically-accurate terms "colored" and "Negro" instead of current terms. His position on this issue has no support in either the guidelines or Wikipedia custom. Rebbing 05:27, 17 August 2016 (UTC)

  • Yes – As I discussed at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Aviation#"Aviatrix", MOS:GNL could not be much more clear here. While I would argue that "aviatrix" is an archaism and is not appropriate for the reasons noted by Rebecca (among other reasons), it's a moot point given the clarity of the MOS on this matter (and the fact that this is clearly not an exceptional circumstance that could warrant violating the MOS). If anyone feels that "aviatrix" should be used, I don't think that's a matter for this talk page (or a WikiProject talk page); rather, a proposal should be made to amend the MOS at WT:MOS. Graham (talk) 05:39, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes When writing in Wikipedia's voice, we use gender neutral teminology whenever possible. This does not change when writing about other times in history. We would never use the terminology common to 1830s South Carolina newspapers when writing about slaves in that state. A direct quotation from the historical period using "aviatrix" is fine, as long as it adds value to the article. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:42, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes. It's archaic and unnecessarily gendered. We don't use Elizabethan English when discussing Shakespeare, and we don't use 1930s vernacular to discuss Hepburn. Pburka (talk) 15:23, 17 August 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Katharine Hepburn. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

YesY An editor has reviewed this edit and fixed any errors that were found.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 01:03, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

TFA rerun[edit]

Any objections to throwing this article into the pile of potential TFA reruns for this year and next? Any cleanup needed? If it helps, here's a list of dead or dubious links. - Dank (push to talk) 23:46, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

"Success in later years (1963-70)"[edit]

The last paragraph in the section talks about Hepburn's involvement in the musical play Coco but mentions nothing about how her involvement ended.

Yet, in the obituary of Danielle Darrieux[1] it's stated that Darrieux "replaced Katharine Hepburn in Coco."

The way I read the section about Darrieux replacing Hepburn, I think it strongly implies that the replacing was due to an 'issue' over singing ability. Simply put, Hepburn 'couldn't,' Darrieux could.

Though this may be considered trivial, I think the reason why Hepburn left the musical -- if one can be found -- should be included.

BTW, the obit also states that the role of Coco was WRITTEN FOR Hepburn. If true, I think that should be mentioned, too. 2600:8800:786:A300:C23F:D5FF:FEC4:D51D (talk) 23:04, 5 December 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^

Liz Smith wishful thinking (Hepburn)[edit]

You cant really have Liz Smith saying she was a lesbian and follow on with she was living with Spencer Tracy for years; best go by what her friends say not a gossip colouminst she was most likely Hetrosexual but some people like to think she was a lesbian because of her dress and lndependence. Filmfan65 (talk) 10:43, 24 December 2017 (UTC)

intense six-month extra-marital affair[edit]

The longer revised version of Directed by John Ford shown on Turner Classic Movies in November, 2006 features directors Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, and Martin Scorsese, who suggest that the string of classic films Ford directed during 1936 to 1941 was due in part to an intense six-month extra-marital affair with Katharine Hepburn, the star of Mary of Scotland (1936), an Elizabethan costume drama. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:59, 25 February 2018 (UTC)

Katie wanted to get married[edit]

Bill Davidson, Spencer Tracy: Tragic Idol, E.P. Dutton: New York, NY (1987), page 165, contains an anecdote by director Edward Dmytryk, whose wife once asked Tracy point-blank whether his Catholicism was the real reason he never divorced Louise: “ '"Hell, no," he said. "When we first started going together, Katie wanted to get married. But my son, John, still was living at home and I felt that until he grew up and could take care of himself, I couldn't do it. Later, when all that cleared up, I wanted to marry Katie, but by that time she didn't want to marry me." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:17, 25 February 2018 (UTC)

Hepburn's Essential Tremor[edit]

Hepburn's tremor is mentioned but nothing specifically about her condition.Halconen (talk)