A Woman Rebels:
"I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex. "
Born in 1907, Katharine Hepburn had a film and stage career that lasted for over seven decades. She was nominated for twelve Best Actress Oscar awards, and won a record-breaking four. Amazing for a person, astonishing for a woman.
Hepburn was dead interesting, and she didn't care if you liked her. She would say anything she thought of-- and luckily she was intelligent and witty enough to pull it off. From her early days, she was a tomboy, and didn't care for "feminine" activities. She idolized her brothers and was even suspended from school for breaking curfew and smoking. "I remember as a child going around with Votes For Women balloons. I learnt early what it is to be snubbed for a good cause," she later said of her early-feminism.
Hepburn pursued acting shortly after graduation from college. She often referred to it as an "embarrassing profession", implying that it was limiting and cheap. However, she was clearly a natural, and wound up working on the stage, then in films full time. Never one to sugar coat the truth, Kate soon earned a reputation in Hollywood as "Katharine of Arrogance". She openly criticized other film stars, refused interviews, and wore mens' suits when women very rarely wore trousers. Her acid tongue earned her a spot on the "Box Office Poison" list, alongside other rebels like Mae West. But her talent was undeniable, and critically responses to her films were overwhelmingly positive.
As a rare Hollywood intellectual, Katharine took on interesting and unconventional roles like that of Jo in Little Women and a character named Pamela Thistlewaite who acts against Victorian social mores in A Woman Rebels. In the classic comedy Adam's Rib, Hepburn's character insists earnestly that a woman is not permitted to do “the same thing, the same, mind you” that a man does. That particular quotation is telling of who Hepburn was, because she always considered her life to be like that of a man's. There's a lot to be learned from someone who can challenge social norms when no one else is trying to. By eschewing typical standards of female beauty in favor of comfort, and being unafraid to "shoot with the boys" (as she famously did during the shooting of The African Queen, Katharine was able to be respected as the talented, well-spoken woman that she was. This compared to stars like Marilyn Monroe who always seemed to be fighting to be treated as more than a pretty face.
Remembering Katharine Hepburn