Katharine Hepburn


  1. Myrna Loy, The Animal Kingdom, 1931.    Producer and serial memo-writer David O Selznick first wanted the unknown Karen Morley as Cecilia, then tested Katharine Hepburn – until falling for Loy’s “superior beauty.” Ilka Chase originated the role on Broadway and Ann Sheridan was the re-named Christie in the 1944 re-make, One More Tomorrow.
  2. Elissa Landi, The Warrior’s Husband, 1933.     The play made Hepburn on Broadway, won her a top agent (lover, nearly husband) Leland Heyward – and a secret test for John Ford- “disappointing – not my kind of gal at all.” (He was later her lover over several years). He chose Landi. Kate wrote her a fan letter – and the two (alleged) bisexuals later became lovers in Hollywood, calling themselves:Jimmy and Elissa.
  3. Barbara Barondess, Queen Christina, 1933.    Lust at first sight when Greta Garbo met Hepburn, climbing naked out of director George Cukor’s pool in 1932. The resultant affair lasted nine years – until Garbo quit Hollywood. Kate was so smitten she strived to play the queen’s funny, sexy maid.  Director Rouben Mamoulian was all for it – producer Walter Wanger felt it would be too distracting.  And when MGM boss, LB Mayer, saw the way Barbara’s maid rubbed the tired queen’s legs, he cut it. “We’re not making a lez picture!”

  4. Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage, 1933.     
    I never cared for ya, not once! I was always makin’ a fool of ya! Ya bored me stiff; I hated ya! It made me sick when I had to let ya kiss me. I only did it because ya begged me, ya hounded me and drove me crazy! And after ya kissed me, I always used to wipe my mouth! Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn and Ann Sheridan shied away from such lines. Bette Davis loved ‘em!. She saw Mildred Rodgers as her breakout role. Daily, for a month she he begged head bro’ Jack Warner to allow her to make the RKO film She even agreed to make such hodge-podge as Fog Over Frisco for him first. He was adamant that the film and the abominable Mildred would harm, even destroy her career. He finally agreed to see her  fail” – like who did she think she was, choosing her own films! Director John Cromwell was keen after her support role in The Cabin in the Cotton with one pf her favourite  signature one-liners:  Ah’d like t kiss ya, but Iah just washed mah hair.”  Great fun compared to Mildred… “My understanding of Mildred’s vileness, not compassion but empathy, gave me pause I was still an innocent. And yet Mildred’s machinations I miraculously understood when it came to playing her. I was often ashamed of this.” The film made her the kind of star Jack Warner never knew how to employ. He was so annoyed  at her triumph that he spread the word not to vote for her come Oscar time. She lost to Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night and won the following year for Dangerous in a sympathy vote for losing to CC… who she famously replaced her in  in All About Eve, 16 years later.

  5. Helen Chandler, Long Lost Father, 1933.  RKO put Hepburn on suspension (ie. no pay) for refusing to be the daughter of profligate father John Barrymore. The British Elizabeth Allan agreed tyo be Lindsey, then fell iull. Enter Chandler. “Her presence is always welcome,”said New York Times  critic Moredaunt Hall, “and it is astonishing that she does not receive more attention from Hollywood.” Indeed.After a paltry 27 films, she was toast by 1938. Except on-stage.
  6. Ginger Rogers, In Person, 1935.     “Dreadful script,” said Kate. “I pulled it off,” crowed Ginger, “because I have talents as a comic. I’m very versatile. Dancer, dramatic actress and comedienne. Some big names can hardly get through a dramatic role, much less do anything else.  ”It was about then that Hepburn kicked her hated rival in the shins…
  7. Joan Crawford, The Gorgeous Hussy, 1935.     RKO obtained the Samuel Hopkins Adams’ novel a year earlier as a Hepburn vehicle – before off-loading it  to MGM where LB Mayer withdrew his invite for her to be President Andrew Jackson’s confidante and adviser. The problem was that, suddenly, everything The Magnificent Yankee touched flopped (except her supposed AC and DC lovers). And so, Peggy O’Neal Eaton went from one hussy to another – Jean Harlow to Crawford. 

  8. Florence Eldridge, Mary of Scotland, 1936.    
    Kate was set for Mary but director (and lover) John Ford had trouble finding a Queen Elizabeth I. “Katharine of Arrogance” suggested she play both roles. “But if you played both queens,” asked John Carradine, “how would you know which one to upstage?” Alongside Sylvia Scarlett and A Woman Rebels, this film led tp Hepburn’s  famous “box-office poison” label. They were as bad as Cary Cockney accent in Scarlett. … which he stole, anyway!  “Cary Grant, whose previous work has too often been that of a charm merchant, turns actor,” said the New York times, “ in the role of the unpleasant Cockney [con-man] and is surprisingly good at it.”  RKO, producer Pandro S Berman called Scarlett “by far the worst picture I ever made and the greatest catastrophe  of Kate’s 30s’ career. I despises everything about it,” But he was to blame, allowing  Kate and her favourite director, George Cukor,  to do anything they wanted after their  Alice Adams triumph in ’34. . “They conned me into it.”  Kate and Cary mace three more films together, including the classic rom-coms,   Bringing Up Babyand The Philadelphia Story. 

  9. Barbara Stanwyck The Mad Miss Manton, 1938.    With Bringing Up Baby flopping (oh yes it did!), RKO dropped Miss Hepburn for Missy Stanwyck. And it was an even bigger flop.
  10. Ann Shirley, Mother Carey’s Chickens, 1938.      Box-office poison or not, this dreadful RKO programmer was “a deliberate insult!”  That was the idea: Do it – or leave!  Kate bought her contract and quit the studio. Third husband of Shirley (best known forAnne of Green Gables, 1934) was the bisexual Czech actor Francis Lederer – who Hepburn had fired and replaced by Charles Boyer in Break of Hearts, 1935. (Hayley Mills re-made Chickens as Summer Magic for Disney, 1963).

  11. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  12. Carole Lombard, In Name Only, 1938.    Set for Kate-Cary Grant until  Bringing Up Baby flopped (oh, yes it did) and she (not he) was labelled Box Office Poison. In most movie books, this is, exclusively,  Kate’s label – although in his Bottom Ten list of “poisonalities” (May 30 1937), exhibitors’ leader Harry Brandt also cited: Astaire, Crawford, Dietrich, Garbo… and Hepburn’s alleged lover, Greta Garbo.  Enter: Lombard, for a third outing with Grant. A wondrous coupling.
  13. Merle Oberon, Wuthering Heights, 1938.
  14. Bette Davis, Dark Victory, 1939.    Rewind one year… and RKO was chasing the Broadway flop for Kate – just as MGM figured it’d be a great Garbo vehicle. Warners won the battle and Davis an Oscar nod… losing to Vivien Leigh in the role hungered after by both Kate and Bette: Scarlett O’Hara.  Spencer Tracy also refused what could have been the first of their films together- nine, in all,  during their tumultuous life until his death in 1967.   However, their Bogart-Bacall-esque love story was a myth created by Kate, a useful coverfor them continuing to have numerous other bisexual lovers.

  15. Claire Trevor, Stagecoach, 1939.    
    When they were lovers (during 1936-1939), John Ford showed Kate a magazine story he’d read, Stage To Lordsburg – he wanted her in his movie version.John Wayne became a star in the Western and Ford told him: “Kate Hepburn is the kind of woman a man could almost leave his wife for.”  Yet it took another 39 years (!!), before Duke and Kate were matched in Rooster Cogburn, less a True Grit sequel (as planned) than The African Queen re-made in the West. 

  16. Carole Lombard , In Name Only, 1939.  The idea of a Cary Grabnt-Katharine Hepbun reunion was demolished when Bringing Up Baby flopped. (Oh yes, it did, like so many classics).  Lombard joined up, insisting on her friend, KayFrancis, as  Grant’s gold-dogger wife, refusing him a divorce  so he  can wed Lombard. OK,  he wanted to switch from rom-coms and actioners,  but neither  he , nor the public, understood this…what? Melodrama? Soap?   Comedy? Satire? No matter, he his next movie was  His Girl Friday.
  17. Ginger Rogers, Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman, 1940.       Passed – in order to make her Philadelphia Story. “I didn’t want to play a soap-opera about a shop girl.” And as for her replacement, “the invading preying mantis”: “If you have anything good to say about [her], don’t say it in my presence.” “Miss Ginger Snaps,” as Kate called her, won the Oscar. “Prizes are nothing,” snapped Hepburn. “My prize is my work.” They’d co-starred in Stage Door, 1937, Kate usurping Ginger’s top billing. They took it in (angry) turns to be Queen of RKO and Kate hated Ginger since finding her and Kate’s lover, director George Stevens, naked in a tub. Rehearsing, he said.
  18. Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday, 1940.    “I realise you don’t want me,” said Roz to director Howard Hawks. Certainly, the loathed Columbia czar Harry Cohn preferred Irene Dunne – for every role that came his way!
  19. Maureen O’Hara, How Green Was My Valley, 1940.     An Irish Angharad… !! After paying $300,000 for Richard Llewellyn’s Welsh Germinal, head Fox Darryl Zanuck wanted Laurence Olivier and Hepburn for the central, touching romance of the pastor Gruffyd and Angharad. They became Walter Pidgeon and O’Hara –  in “a stunning masterpiece,” said New York Times critic Bosley Crowther. It went on  to beat Citizen Kane to Best Film and became the third (of four) unequalled directing Oscars for John Ford.
  20. Ingrid Bergman, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1941.    Spencer Tracy’s original idea, rejected by MGM, was to have the good doctor’s very properfiancee (Turner) and the evil Hyde’s whore (Bergman) played by the same actress…

  21. Lana Turner, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1941.   …“And I was the girl he had in mind,”said Kate.“At this time we had never met. It still seems the most fascinating idea – thrillingand very modern.”  Tracy got his way – in a fashion. Ingrid, booked as the fiancee, swopped roles with Lana… and became his lover.  
  22. Betty Field, Kings Row, 1941.   Olivia De Havilland and Ida Lupino rejected the neurotic Cassandra that Bette Davis craved.  (She suggested Field for the part). Hepburn, Laraine Day, Marsha Hunt, Priscilla Lane, Joan Leslie, Adele Longmire, Susan Peters, Gene Tierney were also seen for “the town they talk of in whispers,” full of murder, sadism, depravity.  And worse that had to be axed from Henry Bellamann’s 1940 novel: sex (premarital),  sex (gay), incest, suicide…  Peyton Place 16 years before Peyton Place!
  23. Paulette Goddard, Reap The Wild Wind, 1941.    A reprise of Gone With The Wind… She lost a Southern belle (“pursued by both John Wayne and Ray Milland”) at the last minute… to another Scarlett O’Hara contender, Or, “Chaplin’s whore,” as Kate generously referred to her. “I’ve never met the bitch but I know that… I won’t be able to stand her.” Particularly when Spencer Tracy started two-timing her with Paulette. Despite an invite to partner Duke in 1953, it was another   33 years before Kate finally co-starred   with Wayne: Rooster Cogburn, 1975.
  24. Barbara Stanwyck, The Gay Sisters, 1941.   Fretting that she’d have to look older than Mary, who already “photographed old,” Bette Davis told head Brother Jack Warner   to shove it…  to someone else. He called up Hepburn, Irene Dunne and tried to borrow Norma Shearer, MGM’s First Lady. The problem was solved when Astor split for The Maltese Falcon.   Except by then, La Barb was signed.
  25. Bette Davis, The Little Foxes,1941. Bette Davis had so many fights with ace director William Wyler that she left the production. And jumped swiftly back in when hearing Katharine Hepburn and Miriam Hopkins were offered her role of Regina Giddens. Hopkins really wanted it, to punish Davis for having an affair with her director husband, Anatole Litvak, while making All This, and Heaven Too, the previous year.
  26. Rosalind Russell,Take A Letter Darling, 1942.     No, said Kate (or Katie) to Hollywood, Kath to family and friends.  By the way, Fred MacMurray was the secretary.
  27. Irene Dunne, A Guy Named Joe, 1943.    “He wanted Kate, not me,” Dunne told Roddy McDowell in 1971.   Impossible. She was starring in Without Love on Broadway.   There were times when the famous lovers were apart for years. “We ironed everything out., Tracy and me,” said Dunne about her “most difficult” film. Such a favourite of Steven Spielberg’s that he re-made it, in 1989.   As badly as he renamed it: Always.
  28. Joan Fontaine,  Frenchman’s Creek, 1943.     Kate was due to be  Daphne Du Maurier’s heroine, Donna St Colmb – “A Lady of Fire and Ice,” screamed the posters, falling for a piratical “Rogue of Steel and Gallantry.”   Then, she Keeper of the Flame with a certain Spencer Tracy in 1942, second of their nine films.
  29. Joan Fontaine, Jane Eyre, 1943.  Producer David O  Selznick fluctuated between Fontaine, Hepburn and Vivien Leigh for the titular governess.  Idem for the byronic Mr Rochester, until dropping Ronald Colman, Alan  Marshal, Walter Pidgeon for Orson Welles. DOS then sold his whole package – director Robert Stevenson, writers John Houseman, Aldous Huxley  – to Fox.
  30. Greer Garson, Madame Curie, 1943.   It was the biopic season… and as usual, MGM was thinking big. Greta Garbo and Spencer Tracy discovering radium as the Marie and Pierre Curie. That was in 1938. And their daughter, Eve, found the august Aldous Huxley’s version of her book too glamorous – ie, casting Garbo as Mum was taking the shine off Dad, whoever played him. MGM voted Garson and Walter Pidgeon and made it a massive hit with such crass advertising as… “Mr & Mrs Miniver Together Again in Another Screen Hit!”

  31. Dorothy McGuire, Claudia, 1943.   Finding her husband was difficult. Don Ameche, 35, Cary Grant, 39, Franchot Tone, 38, were too old for a “child bride.”  How salacious! Not really. She wasn’t Lolita but an immature 20-something aimed at Joan Fontaine, 26, Katharine Hepburn, 36, and Jennifer     Jones, 24. Dorothy McGuire repeated her Broadway role at 27, opposite an old Young, 36, in “an altogether winning caprice,“ said TS in the New York Times. They were still together two years later  for the sequel, Claudia and David.  Snore!
  32. Elizabeth Taylor, National Velvet, 1944.    Producer Pandro Berman  (a Kate fan from their RKO days) tried to  buy the Edith Bagnold  book for  her in 1935. Paramount beat him to it and later sold the rights to MGM – where Berman  wound up working, He got it back and saw numerous  potential Velvet Browns.  Including Pat Arno, Alix De Kauffman, Leslie Ruth Howard, Patsy Lee Parsons, Gene Tierney. Oh, and Shirley Catlin… the  future UK politician Baroness Shirley Williams None matched Taylor’s sheer determination. When told she was too short in her test (directed by  Fred Zinnemann!), Liz promised to put on three inches before shooting.  And she did!  A star is born, agreed the critics.
  33. Jane Wyman, The Lost Weekend, 1944.       Director Billy Wilder asked Hepburn to play Helen St James. She was keen but had to pass being committed to Without Love with Spencer Tracy.
  34. Merle Oberon,  A Song To Remember, 1945.     Inevitably, the trousers-loving  Katie was named for George Sand in the mid-30s. She fortunately escaped the (Cornel) Wilde Chopin.
  35. Gene Tierney, The Razor’s Edge, 1946.    She passed on being Tyrone Power’s socialite fiancée in order to support her lover Spencer Tracy’s1945 return to Broadway in The Rugged Path.
  36. Lana Turner, Green Dolphin Street, 1946.  According to MGM files,  Elizabeth Goudge’s turgid romance (set in New Zealand, amid earthquakes and Maori uprisings) was bought with Hepburn in mind for Marianne. She left it well alone, while poor  Van Heflin ad eagerly signed on,  hoping to rekindle his Broadway love-affair with Kate.

  37. Rosalind Russell, Mourning Becomes Electra, 1946.    
    Theresa Helburn of the Theatre Guild offered the film of Eugene O’Neill’s play to Kate – with the promiseof her lover, Garbo, as her mother.  The playwright agreed Kate would be a fine Lavina butthat 1930s’ movie censorship would castrate his work. Certainly, MGM’s  had lion, LB Mayer was aghast at the very idea of Garbo as a mother in, er… “Isn’t this play about incest?  Opposite Katina Paxinou as mum, Russell won an Oscar nomination and thought she’d won – getting up too early only to slide back down as she heard Loretta Young had won for The Farmer’s Daughter.

  38. Gene Tierney, The Ghost and Mrs Muir, 1947.    She took three weeks to tell director and ex-lover John Ford- back from WWII – that she couldn’t make his comedy. (Ford quit, too). Kate was too busy tending another soggy Irish boozehound, Spencer Tracy.  As LA gossip put it, they were more sisters than lovers.
  39. Barbara Stanwyck, BF’s Daughter, 1948.   BF, indeed!  Labeled “pink” for attending a rally for the first (and last) Progressive Party candidate, Henry Wallace  (Roosevelt’s first vice-president),  Hepburn suddenly found she was no longer Charles Coburn’s daughter.  And the Republican Stanwyck was – opposite one of Kate’s ex-lovers, Van Heflin, as Barbara’s husband.
  40. Ingrid Bergman, Joan of Arc, 1947.      Not long after winning the first of her four Oscars – for Morning,   1933 —  Kate announced she’d be playing a Joan scripted by  playwright Thornton Wilder.  King Kong producer Merian C Cooper tested “that horse face” in 1935. Neither the first or second scenario proved workable, leaving the role open (for 14 years!) to Bergman, for whom it was the role of her life.  She was Joan on stage in Maxwell Anderson’s Joan of Lorraine in 1946.  However, her film version flopped due to (American) public reaction to Bergman’s “scandalous” affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini. (Both were married but not to each other. Plus Ingrid was pregnant… and Joan was a sacred virgin, after all!).  When Ingrid tackled the role a third time in the little known  Franco-Italian Giovanna d’Arco al rog (UK/US: Joan of Arc at the Stake) in1954,, Rossellini directed  her. But Ingrid was way too old at 39.

  41. Deborah Kerr, Edward My Son, 1949.     She was in London with him, but backed off playing Spencer Tracy’s alcoholic wife – as, indeed, he should have refused the British millionaire role.
  42. Leueen MacGrath, Edward My Son, 1949.      During the production, director George Cukor suggested that Kate should play Tracy’s secretary – and accept third billing.  Oh, yeah, sure.
  43. Jane Wyman, The Glass Menagerie, 1949.   Earlier in the 40s, director George Cukor planned the first screen version of the Tennessee Williams classic, with Hepburn as the shy, crippled daughter of Broadway queen  Laurette Taylor as her  typically Williams’ fading Southern belle mother, Amanda.  And, (naturally) Spencer Tracy as The Gentleman Caller. Never happened  – until director Irving Rapper’s take – hated by Tennessee. He preferred  Hepburn’s take – not as Laura, but Amanda  – in the  better 1973 TVersion directed by  the UK’s  Anthony Harvey, after making The  Lion in Winter with Kate in  1967.
  44. Rosalind Russell, A Woman of Distinction, 1950.    Delighted with Kate for rescuing State of the Union, 1948, Frank Capra asked her to join his next screwball number – but MGM was not going to loan her to Columbia.  So we missed an ironic pearl… when Hepburn, of all people, asked another character (about electricity, of course):  Are you AC or DC? !!
  45. Bette Davis, All About Eve, 1950.
  46. Joan Bennett, Father of the Bride, 1950.   “It’s hopelessly weak for me.”   Hepburn once again refused to be Spencer Tracy’s wife in one of his biggest hits.  She was livid when the “beautiful but vapid” (and pregnant) Joan took over.  Kate hated Joan for obviously arranging the visit of her sister, Constance, during a Little Women  lunch-break – when she slapped Hepburn’s face “for stealing Morning Glory from me.”
  47. Jean Arthur, Shane,  1951.  Director George Stevens’ first trio was Montgomery Clift, William Holden and Hepburn.  He nearly canceled his classic Western when none were free. He finally asked: Who else is available? Three minutes later he had bagged:  Alan Ladd, Van Heflin and  Jean (in her last movie). Shot during  July-October 1952, it wasn’t released  until 1953 due to Stevens’ lengthy editing and  Paramount losing faith…  until Howard Hughes tried to buy it! 
  48. Geraldine Page, Hondo, 1952.     John Wayne’s one and only 3D Western.   As the female leads was considerably pruned, producer Robert Fellows said that rather than embarrass a star of her stature by offering a role she’d be forced to turn down, he refused to offer it to her at all! Kate eventually joined Duke’s penultimate movie, Rooster Cogburn, 1975. “It was like leaning against a great tree.”
  49. Elizabeth  Taylor,  Elephant Walk,  1954.  Among  the many refusing to take over following Vivien Leigh’s breakdown in  Ceylon.
  50. Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.

  51. Lucille Ball, Forever Darling, 1955. No, no, Kath was not about to replace The #1 TV Wife of the #1 TV Husband… Lucille and Desi Arnaz simply dusted off the plot many years after first, The Thin Man couple of Loy and William Powell, then Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn (like who else?) passed on being the splitting couple saved by an angel- a fun part for James Mason. Didn’t work: the Arnazes were divorced five years later. Powell-Loy made 14 films ensemble, five more than Tracy-Hepburn. 
  52. Dorothy Maguire, Friendly Persuasion, 1956.     Director William Wyler usually got what he wanted.  Not this time. Due as her Quaker husband, Gary Cooper wanted Ingrid Bergman – and hated the movie.

  53. Sophia Loren, The Millionairess, 1960.   
    Epifania, said Hepburn biographer Charles Higham, “was a between Katharina  in The Taming of the Shrew and Susan Vance in Bringing Up Baby… although it represented the less attractive side of her character -the bossy,overpowering, crotchety side.” Before she played the role on stage (over-actjng as only she could do (tiring the entire  cast)the playwright George Bernard Shaw wanted her in a movie version.   Instead, she did the play in London’s West End, before Broadway, in 1952 – another long separation from Spencer Tracy.  (While he romanced Gene Tierney).  The film idea cropped up anew in 53. With permission from the GBS Estate to change only 20% of the play. “We had had one of the funniest scripts that was ever written. But we couldn’t sell it.  Preston [Sturgess] was over the hill, my career was in the trembles and people wouldn’t finance us… Certainly it was the greatest disappointment of my life.  I still read the script today; it’s just wonderful.  The failure of that project killed Preston. He died of neglect.”   Alec Guinness was to have co-starred in what became  the Sellers role.  Much more than  20% of the GBS text was changed for the successful Sophia-Sellers version.

  54. Shirley MacLaine,The Children’s Hour, 1961.   Opposite Doris Day – as lesbian schoolteachers.  Rather too close to Kate’s secret sex life with Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Laura Harding, Judy Holliday, Irene Mayer Selznick, Susan Steele., etc.  And the list goes on… 
  55. Audrey Hepburn, The Children’s Hour, 1961.      Surely she was way too old – at 54 – for either role. But  as American newsman Heywood Broun commented: The Lesbian said about it the better.
  56. Bette Davis, Pocketful of Miracles, 1961. Directing legend Frank Capra never knew this would be his final  film. Or he would have tried harder… and dumped Glenn Ford who seemed determined to ruin his own production. Jean Arthur, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn were run up the flagpole but Shirley Booth had always been his choice for Apple Annie. Trouble was, she’d  watched Capra’s original 1933 movie, Lady for a Day, and it scared her. Impossible,…  she said, to improve upon or even match May Robinson’s Oscar-nominated performance. Oh yeah?, said Bette. Poor Capra retired, hurt , after this one –  “shaped in the fires of discord and filmed in an atmosphere of pain, strain and loathing.”  
  57. Bette Davis, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? 1962. Sisters, sisters, such horrendous sisters…  Bette Davis is Baby Jane Hudson, ex-child star, still jealous of her sister Joan Crawford’s better, well longer, career and   deciding to do something diabolical about it.  In case the two bitter enemies couldn’t face working together (Davis even  tried to grab the rights and produce the film sans Crawford!), the hag-horrors might have been Ingrjd Bergman and Tallulah Bankhead or Ginger Rogers and Marlene Dietrich, to name just four earlier possibilities. (There are more). Bette and producer William Frye tried to persuade Alfred Hitchcock to tackle what became known as hagsploitation. He was too busy (editing Psycho, prepping The Birds), besides he’d long since worked simply for himself. Other nearly Baby Janes were Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, Jennifer Jones,  Plus Agnes Moorhead who  joined the sorta-sequel,  Hush…Hush,Sweet Charlotte, 1964.
  58. Wendy Hiller, Toys in the Attic, 1962.   “This turgid drama and his avid actors… get completely out of hand and run wild in a baffling confusion of theatrical bursts and attitudes.” Owch! That was the NewYork Times critic Bosley Crowther. As fpr Hiller, she “makes so many switches… it is hard to grasp the cause of her affection and her evident sibling jealousy.” Double owch! Obviously, director George Roy Hill was out-of-his-depth and could not have better controlled the studio’s first, dream-wish cast. Hepburn, Gene Tierney and… and Vivien Leigh!
  59. Paula Prentiss, Man’s Favourite Sport, 1963.  Fishing, that  is… At age 67, directing icon Howard  Hawks knew which couple would work – Grant and Hepburn…  Audrey or Katharine.  Instead, he was saddled with  Hudson and Paula Prentiss – “accepted gallantly and exploited skillfully… as if he were savouring all  his past jokes for the last time,”said Village Voice critic Andrew Sarris. Being one of those  old japes, Grant passed, being 58 to Paula’s 24.
  60. Ava Gardner, The Night of the Iguana, 1963.  Playwright Tennessee Williams adored Kate’s  Mrs Venable in his Suddenly Last  Summer, 1959, and her Amanda  Wingfield  in The Glass Menagerie, 1973.  He had also created Iguana’s Maxina Faulk for her. But she wasn’t smitten this time and let Bette Davis rule on Broadway and Ava steal; the movie.

  61. Olivia De Havilland, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, 1964.  Or, of course, What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?  When Crawford agreed to battle anew with her old nemesis, Bette Davis, in another horror tale of two old biddies by Baby Jane author Henry Farrell. After locations in Louisiana, Joan was ill, although many said her “viral pneumonia” was unrequited love for Bette, who deliberately upset her by being mire friendly with their lesbian co-star Agnes Moorehead.  Either way, Crawford was gone. Bette refused Katharine Hepburn or Vivien Leigh and director Robert Aldrich famouslytook three planes, a train and a taxi to her Swiss home to persuade Olivia  De Havilland to take over. (Bette refused Katharine Hepburn or Vivien Leigh).  “Livvie” agreed. Aldrich called Davis with the “secret: news. She told the media. And Crawford (known as “Billie”) cried for nine hours. She was furious with Aldrich.  “He let me hear it for the first time in a radio release, and, frankly, I think it stinks.”  She felt Bette was manipulating Aldrich”She’s practically directing the picture for him right in front of me, so God knows what else she’s up to behind my back. I might wind up on the cutting-room floor.”  None of them should have bothered. Charlotte was no Baby Jane.
  62. Vivien Leigh, Ship of Fools,1965.    Kate was producer-director  Stanley Kramer’s  inevitable choice for the aging Southern belle, Mary Treadwell,  but she stayed home, looking after Spencer Tracy in his final illness.  Enter Vivien, frail yet abrasive from her  depression and alcoholism. Ironically, Kramer had secured the rights to Katharine Anne Porter’s novel ahead of Vivien’s Gone With the Wind producer David O Selznick.
  63. Giulietta Masina, Giulietta degli spiriti (US: Juliet of the Spirits), Italy-France, 1965.   Masina cooled her career after abad experience with French realisateur Julien Duvivier. He told her that Fellini didn’t know how to direct her (!), and gave her a Marilyn make-over for Das kunstseidene Mädchen – which, for someone who didn’t rate Fellini, was a Berlin-set re-hash of the Fellini couple’s Nights of Cabiria.  (And internationally known as The High Life…   La Dolce Vita was The Sweet Life).  To help make up for that (and a few affairs), Fellini wrote this gift for her but certain Cineriz company suits yawned. “We want a Hollywood star.”  It is not known if Hepburn was aware of topping their list.   Or whether she also yawned.   As Fellini did.
  64. Maureen O’Sullivan, Never Too Late, 1965.      Spencer Tracy was the only  thought for Harry. So, Hepburn was opvious favourite for his wife – pregnant at 50, ho, ho, ho! “But I’m too old for Edith,”said Katye…knowing Spence was too ill to be a progenitor.  Next? June Allyson, Lucille Ball, Anne Baxter, Joan Fontaine, Susan Hayward, Deborah Kerr, Eleanor Parker, Ginger Rogers, Rosalind Russell, Ann Sheridan. Ultimately, Warner Bros went with the Broadway hit’s duo: Paul Ford and O’Sullivan. 

  65. Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1965.  
    Before Queen Liz made it her personal best performance (more so than Suddenly Las Summer??), the earlier choices for Martha were Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Patricia Neal, Rosalind Russell…  and Katharine Hepburn, who told the playwright Edward Albee: “This play is much better than I am!”  When directors John Frankenheimer and Fred Zinneman fell out and Broadway king Mike Nichols made it his first film.  Liz approved him. Of course, she did. He and the Burtons had the same agent:  Robbie Lantz.
  66. Rosalind Russell, Rosie! 1967.    Universal bought the Ruth Gordon-adapted play, A Very Rich Woman, for Kate, but living well off the allowance her father handled, she remained off-screen for five years, nursing Spencer Tracy, and totally embroidering the “truth” of their love story.
  67. Noel Coward, Boom, 1968.    “Not a bad idea,” said exiled US director Joseph Losey.  Except Hepburn was insulted by Liz Taylor’s invitation to play her bitchy neighbor, The Witch of Capri.  (They had been aunt and neice in Suddenly, Last Summer,1959).  Joe’s agent, Robin Fox, suggested Coward.  He also refused.   “Listen, you old fool,” Losey told him, “you’ll get $75,000 for two weeks’ work.  You’re not young, your reputation is safe – what harm can it do?”  And Coward turned courageous.
  68. Geraldine Page, Look Homeward Angel, TV, 1971.    Kate gave up attempts to set up a movie of the Broadway play (a 1958 hit with Anthony Perkins) when she could not persuade Warren Beatty to join her.

  69. Maggie Smith, Travels With My Aunt,1972.      
    “It’s about a real old cow,:” said Maggie.  Oh  no, much more than that… George Cukor was directing for  producer  Robert Fryer  – “known as The Red Queen, not entirely for the colour of his hair,” said their choice of scenarist, Arthur Laurentz.   He agreed but “only if Kate was going to be in it; I didn’t believe the picture would work otherwise.”  Graham Greene had sent her his book but she couldn’t see movie in the  collection of anecdotes.  “She was perfectly  willing to play it if I wrote a screenplay that proved her wrong.”   They met three times a week. She wanted to be courted, wooed.  And he wanted to find out who she really was – “if she knew.” “Certainly she had invented her physical self: no one was born speaking that way, no one dressed that way, wore her hair that way, moved that way.  It was an affectation but carefully calculated along with her much vaunted directness and honesty. At our last meeting, I admitted defeat. It was not movie material…. “No, it is, it is! … You were right! You must write it!” He didn’t.  Two other writers did. And one night in a theatre lobby, she shouted to Laurentz: “Have you heard? They fired me!” She sounded, he said, triumphant.    MGM boss James T Aubrey  said she was too old (at 65) for Aunt Augusta!  (She had another 15 screen roles ahead of her plus a fourth Oscar from – 12 nominations! –  for On Golden Pond at  73.)  MGM  behaved  badly, said Cukor.  They were shits. They thought she was running things. She behaved impeccably. But  they were just stupid. Petty. Idiotic. I wanted to leave.” But Kate told him:  “Don’t  you be impracticable,  you’ve worked on it  for two years.” Bobby Fryer signed Maggie Smith, 38 – and her husband Robert Stephens as her treacherous ex-lover   Greene went to see the  film –  he strode  out after five minutes,

  70. Lauren Bacall, Murder on the Orient Express, 1974.  Agatha Christie’s favourite adaptation… Director Sidney Lumet – with final cut for the first time, following his Serpico triumph – said that like Dame Agatha, it was about nostalgia. He wanted Hollywood 30s’ glamour and once his mate, Sean Connery, agreed to be Arbuthnot, the rest rushed in. Lauren Bacall. Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave (who would play Agatha in 1977), Richard Widmark and Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, himself, But no Katie… which is the how and why of Bacall becoming Mrs Hubbard.

  71. Mona Washbourne The Bluebird, 1976.  
    Why? No explanation has been found. But then Katharine Hepburn never enjoyed media questions. “I  welcome death.   In death there are no interviews!” 

  72. Ingrid Bergman, A Matter of Time/Nina,1976.      Vincente Minnelli’s last film was his first to star daughter Liza. Ingrid’s daughter, Isabella Rossellini, was also cast.
  73. Hildegarde Neff, Fedora, France-West Germany, 1977.   When Billy Wilder’s penultimate film was being set up at Universal, the suits wanted either Hepburn, Audrey or Katharine, as the reclusive, Garboesque screen diva.  Or, hey, Billy-baby, better idea – both of them!  For the younger and older incarnations.  (I have a distinct feeling Kate rapidly put a stop to that notion).  Michael York, who played himself, in the star system story, reported that Vanessa Redgrave had been keen on the title role(s). Billy-baby was more interested in Faye Dunaway and Dietrich (the obvious choice). Marlene, however, detested Tom Tryon’s novella. Crowned Heads, and found the script no better. Wilder then saw Bobby Deerfield, fell for Keller and made the movie in Corfu, very much as a companion piece to Sunset Boulevard, 1949. (William Holden is in and narrates both).
  74. James Cagney, Terrible Joe Moran, TV, 1984.      Cagney’s 65th and last movie (forCBS TV) had once been an idea for Hepburn – as a wealthy, ex-tennis star, embittered by family estrangement and finding a little affection in old age from a grandchild. Jimmy, went out fighting – a mite punchy, alas – as an ex-boxing champ.His finest hours were clips from his 1930 square ring drama, Winner Takes All. 
  75. Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage To India, 1984.      Almost 30 years after their Summertime,  Kate was the first thought of legendary UK  director David Lean for what proved his final film – even to the extent of allowing Mrs Moore to hail from New England.  Dame Peg disapproved of Lean’s autocratic ways and told him: “I’m 75 and beyond doing another film in India.” He told her: “I’m 75, too.”  Ah…!
  76. Lilian Gish, The Whales of August 1986.  Lilian Gish and Bette Davis were just perfect – “with incomparable grace and gumption,” said the Washington Post’ – as of aged sisters reflecting upon thejr lives  in coastal Maine.  But Hepburn and Barbara Stanwyck had been considered – and sounded another  powerful  match.. UK director Linsdsay Anderson told Gish, 94, “Miss Gish, you have just given me a perfect close-up.”  “She should,: snapped Davis.  “She invented ’em.” 
  77. Maggie Smith,The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, 1987.     Maggie strikes again…   Before director Jack Clayton achieved his dream, John Huston had planned his with Kate as Brian Moore’s Irish spinster.
  78. Barbara Stanwyck, The Colbys, TV, 1985-1987. Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor were not into soaps, Doris Day was rumoured but the powerful Constance Colby (related toDynasty’s Carringtons, yawn, yawn!) became Stanwyck’s 106thand final role – “the biggest pile of garbage I ever did.” She went out in true Barb style.  Refusing the list of bewigged old Hollywoodians for her lover (she was 80!) and insisting on the younger Joseph Campanella (63). They had worked together during her four years in The Big Valley, 1965-1969.
  79. Olympia Dukakis,  Steel Magnolias, 1988.   Bette Davis caught the off-Broadway play – all gossipy one-liners at a Louisiana beauty parlour – and immediately tried setting up a movie.  She would be Ouiser Boudreaux, of course, with Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor as Claire and Truvy.  Producer Ray Stark had other plans.  Younger.



“She’s the “most magnectic woman I’d ever seen and probably have ever seen since… You never saw such timing. She had a mind like a computer – every detail worked out.  She taught me just about everything I know about comedy – how to time my lines, the solemn way to say something comic…”  – Cary Grant, four times her co-star.







 Birth year: 1907Death year: 2003Other name: Casting Calls:  79