Celebrate Katharine Hepburn’s Birthday with this Revealing Interview

Katharine Hepburn, born on this date in 1907, provides an object lesson in the nature of movie stardom. Other stars may have been more symmetrically pretty, had wider ranges of emotive expression, or modeled glamorous Hollywood gowns with more grace, but she brought a special quality to the screen. A quality as different and transgressive to the audiences of the time as the slacks that she made fashionable. She refers to the origins of her androgynous style in the attached interview.

It was by and large her personality, which incorporated a fair amount of what we might charitably refer to as Emersonian self-reliance, or, if in a less forgiving mood, as pure stubbornness. This aspect of Hepburn comes across loud and clear in her performances. The best stars have personalities that, combined with photographic appeal and a talent for realistic acting, make them wonderful to behold. We can’t get enough.

Hepburn, who was radioactive with this star quality, addresses it at one point in the video interview below.

Here’s a relevant excerpt:

Clive James: What does it take to be a star?
Hepburn: I don’t know… I’ve got it. But, I mean, what is it? I don’t think it’s talent. I think it’s just that – you’ve got a good hot motor inside you and it ticks away and your eyes shine and your teeth shine. I don’t know what the hell it is. Charisma?
James: Yes…
Hepburn: But also good luck. I think good luck all the way. First I would credit my parents and then I would say I was lucky enough to be born at a time when people wanted this. (Pops shoulders of her blouse with bravado.) My kind of “so what?

Hepburn who went from being an in-demand ingenue with stage credentials, to a washout who was famously referred to as box-office poison, and then a treasured institution, never stopped being herself and stayed candid and open right to the end. Let the instantly identifiable music of her timbre and cadence fill your home and your life today as we celebrate her birth.

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