Monday, September 28, 2009

Confronting a demon...

The title of this entry is a little morbid, but I am confronting a feeling I never expected to feel: could I actually like Katharine Hepburn?!?!?!
If you are a fellow Ginger fan and have read her autobiography (if you haven't, what's wrong with you?), then you know that Ginger and Kate did not get along famously. Ginger recalls that Kate once poured a glass of water out of a two-story window on to her brand new coat, claiming that "if it's real, it won't curl". According to some reports she also slandered Kitty Foyle after Ginger took home the 1940 best actress Oscar, claiming "I and every other girl in Hollywood turned down that filth".
In reality, can I dislike Katharine Hepburn for saying a few rude things to my favorite person? It's an irrational conclusion to jump to. Another irrational thought is the one that Ginger was totally innocent and did not warrant any of these comments or actions. Like all actors, Ginger was pretty full of herself. Kate was too, and they were competitors for the non-existent title "Queen of RKO". While Kate garnered awards, Ginger was raking in the dough with her musicals and side projects. They were (understandably) jealous of each others' positions. Ginger longed to be taken seriously as an actress, and Kate didn't want to be shoved out of the business for being "Box Office Poison" (she was voted #1 box office poison in 1937 or 38).
My point is: Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn were both human beings, and so am I. We can't all agree on everything: there are plenty of things about Ginger that I don't like, so why should I shun Kate's entire career for being a little mean every once in a while?
Reluctant as she was, Kate was a great comedian. These are the pieces of her career that I really enjoy. It began with Stage Door.

I have read that Kate threw quite the fit over her second billing. In her autobiography she states that after hearing comments from preview audiences, her billing "was restored to its proper place", ie side-by-side.
I admire Kate's spirit and attitude toward life. She was a fighter, but not in a belligerent way.

I want that dress!!!
In a couple of weeks, I will return to the topic of Ginger and Kate. They have interesting career parallels that deserve further exploration.


Maria said...

Exactly, they were just human beings and we can't judge their actions or dislike them for what they did in a small part of their lives. As you well said, there was rivalry and in a time that surely wasn't easy to be an actress at Hollywood. Let's enjoy them as great actresses and let's not be too hard about their private life because we all makes mistakes or act silly from time to time... and, damn!lol I'm one of those 'bad' fans that haven't read Gingers' biography because I prefer to keep the actress and the woman separate.

Maggie said...

I really recommend her autobiography. She tends to get very preachy about Christian Science. Because I'm not a religious person, those parts were not so touching to me, however it is quite fun to hear the little anecdotes. She goes through nearly every one of her films and tells little stories-much more thorough than Kate's book.

Lauren said...

I haven't read Ginger's either. I've read 5 pages but haven't continued just yet.
...I read Fred's!


Margaret Perry said...

To be honest, I never thought you could love one and not the other. I don't believe much of the rudeness on either side - that's the sort of thing sensationalists print to get people up in arms over nothing. I LOVE Ginger Rogers for who she is and I'm crazy for Miss Hepburn. I think maybe they didn't become fast friends because they're both so totally different, but I'm fairly certain they had a cordial working relationship. You see, Miss Hepburn's father and brother were doctors, and Ginger Rogers was raised in Christian Science, so I can't imagine they saw eye to eye on many things. But I don't think this should be blown into Davis/Crawford feud proportions! I certainly cannot help but love them both, so I hope I never have to chose a side!