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Sunday, May 12, 2013

What Katharine Hepburn taught me


"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun."

The first Old Hollywood star that I actually adored was Katharine Hepburn. When she appeared on the screen in Holiday (1938), I thought she was absolutely gorgeous. That was really my initial impression of her. And it's ironic, because Katharine Hepburn has never been considered the conventional beauty, but that was my first thought. I was nine years old, and to me she was perfect looking: the high cheekbones, red hair, and the slim waist. 

But I think the moment where I really fell in love with her was in Bringing up Baby (1938). It's the scene where she sits at the bar, wearing a gown made entirely of satin and a ridiculous veiled headpiece over her face. As innocent and naive as a child, she watches intently as the bartender teaches her a trick to be played with olives - to throw one in the air and catch it on the top of your hand. When she gives it a try for herself, the olive lands on the floor and who but Cary Grant would being rushing by, only to slip on it. There's something so endearing about this scene - I can't really explain it, but it made me love her.

Whether you love her or hate her, I don't think you can really deny that Kate was her own person. This is the quality I admire about her the most, the I don't give a damn what anyone else thinks air about her. She was never afraid to be herself, and she never apologized for being herself. (Remember when Barbara Walters asked her if she owned a skirt? "I have one. I'll wear it to your funeral.") She was so comfortable in her own skin. This is not denying that there was an innate sensitivity within her, which I feel we saw every time she talked about Spence, looked at Spence... but on the outside was this confidence that I only wish I could have. 

I think that's why her confidence is my favorite quality of hers is it because it's something that I myself lack a lot of the time. My whole life I've been shy and because of it, I've always had trouble making friends or fitting into a group of people, and have been even the slightest bit socially anxious from time to time. I feel like that has all stemmed from my caring too much about what other people think. I've always tried to blend in. I know this sounds like a total cliche, but in the way that Kate lived her life, I've learned that that approach to life is a wayward one. Kate's courage and her confidence are contagious; they inspire you, infect you, and you can't help but want to be the same. So, in this way especially, Kate is a role model to me. To a somewhat insecure teenager, she has taught me a lot about life simply by the way she lived hers. "Life is to be lived," she said, and you cannot truly live if you are constantly afraid of what others may think of you. That fear is irrational, and I'm gradually beginning to accept that. Each step of the way, Kate has been - and will continue to be -  a guiding hand. 

So, happy birthday, Kate. And thank you for being you.

7 comments:

Marcela Costa :} said...

Ri, what you wrote here is something that drives a lot of people - including me - to her. Today was so wonderful because I felt the love of so many people for this extraordinary spirit I feel so close to. I have to say, your words moved me and I'm so glad she is helping so many people even in death.

You're fantastic, Ri! Be yourself and make her proud! :D

Katy said...

Thanks for sharing Rianna! Katharine has always been an actress to me that I loved more off-screen than on - I'm not sure why! Her filmography wasn't something I was head over heels for, but I always loved her sense of self and confidence. Her individuality always makes me want to take charge of my lack of and go after it all no matter what people think. I'm happy to hear that someone else sees her as inspiration to step out of the box! :)

Kate Gorman said...

I love her too. She was a brilliant actress! I own four KH movies and I love them all! :)

Alyssa LM said...

I loved your post and can really relate to what you've said. She really is a wonderful role model in believing in yourself. :)

Silver Screenings said...

Happy belated birthday, Kate! She really lived life on her own terms, didn't she?

James Franklin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Garbos said...

this is adorable, Kate is my favorite one!

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