Tuesday, May 16, 2023

TV: Does she need to be in a coffin and in a closet too?

Hate merchant and psycho Marjorie Taylor Greene keeps stating that the 2020 election was stolen.  As sad and pathetic as that is, she's certainly living in the right time for such nonsense.


We realized that while streaming CALL ME KATE on NETFLIX.  The Kate in question is Katharine Hepburn who hated being called "Kate" until her late-life transformation.

Though showered with praise and attention for the last two decades of her life -- and one hugely undeserved Academy Award, her career came to a creative close as she began portraying Kate for the media.  

Hepburn loathed the media for years and years.  She lied to them repeatedly -- such as when she claimed to have children in the 1930s ("ten in my brood, the product of three different marriages").  She had no respect for them and ran from them whenever possible -- one time, she was in such a panic that she nearly decapitated herself running under a plane's propeller.  

The 'documentary' wants to tell you about the love and sexual affair with actor Spencer Tracy.  That actually should have been where a 2023 documentary took off -- exposing the lies.  You could start with Hepburn's claim, post-Spencer Tracy's death, that she and Tracy kept the affair a secret to avoid humiliating Louise Tracy.  

That's always been the most obvious lie Hepburn told.  Why?  Louise Tracy died in November of 1983.  If Hepburn and Tracy worked to protect Louise, then Katharine would have kept her mouth shut until then.  Instead, she began teasing it out in 1967 as the press inflated a brief affair into a long running one.

It was the perfect excuse for her life -- in love with a married man!  The side piece!

Just like the claim that she didn't believe an actress could be a mother.  That was her excuse, her claim, for why she never had children.  Another reason would, of course, be due to the fact that two women having sex has never resulted in pregnancy.

We'll circle back to it.


Katharine wasn't a movie star by the true meaning of the term.  She was a well known actress but she couldn't sell tickets.  In the thirties, RKO struggled with this.  A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT, her first film, won her praise but it wasn't a hit for its day.  MORNING GLORY did better -- both in terms of praise and in terms of ticket sales.  It was LITTLE WOMEN that finally put her in a hit.  


LITTLE WOMEN is also the only film she made in the 30s that actually made it into the top ten (at number ten) grossers for its year.  Pandro S. Berman, head of production at RKO, decided that he knew what to do with her -- period films!  SPITFIRE, THE LITTLE MINISTER, MARY OF SCOTLAND, A WOMAN REBELS, QUALITY STREET -- all bombs -- made it clear (should have) that Hepburn couldn't pull off period films.  ALICE ADAMS comes along during this string of bombs and people wrongly consider that a hit film.  It wasn't.  RKO shot it on the cheap so it felt like a hit but it wasn't. It didn't make the top ten grossing films in the US for that year.  Nor was she one of the top ten money making performers in film that year -- females on that list were Shirley Temple, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert.

Joan Crawford was a star during the 30s and during the 40s and during the 50s.  She shows up over and over with one film after another in the top ten -- some years she has more than one film making that year's highest grossing films.  And she carries the films, she's the reason people are buying tickets to the films.  The same with Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, Olivia de Haviland and many others.  The lesson of LITTLE WOMEN should have been that Hepburn couldn't carry a film.  Teamed with another well known actress, Joan Bennett, audiences would turn out.  So RKO put her with Ginger Rogers (and made her the third billed performer -- so low was her stock) in STAGE DOOR.  In 1940, after being called box office poison -- more on that in a moment -- she finally had a hit with THE PHILADELPHIA STORY for MGM -- the fourth biggest moneymaker for 1940 in the US.  As MGM's Louis B. Mayer had made clear -- and as Hepburn knew -- no one was going to see that film for her.  So she was paired with two box office co-stars -- Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart (angering Van Heflin and ticking off Joseph Cotton who played the roles onstage).   In 1951, with Humphrey Bogart -- a movie star, meaning he sold tickets -- in the lead THE AFRICAN QUEEN found her with another top ten for the year (at number six).



Let's go back to box office poison.  Theater owners took out an ad noting that various well known actors did not deliver at the box office.  In CALL ME KATE, one of the 'experts,' Bonnie Greer,  puts forward the lie that no man was labeled box office poison that year (1938).  She wants you to know that poor Kate is the victim of sexism.  Edward Arnold was not a woman.  Though today's film goers may have forgotten him, here's another name Fred Astaire.  Astaire would leave RKO as a result of being labeled box office poison. 

She could not sell tickets on her own.  She could not deliver at the box office on her own.  She had to be propped up, over and over, with name stars who actually did sell tickets.

She was known as a lesbian in the industry and it had nothing to do with how she dressed or that Laura Harding identified herself as "her husband" at the studio.  (This was in person, not, as the 'documentary' says on the phone -- and Hepburn was present when Laura said it.) But the documentary pretends that those were the reasons this 'rumor' started.

No, it started because she couldn't keep her hands off other women.  It was also helped by the fact that everyone knew that her husband -- the only man she ever married -- was gay.  In fact, he had an affair with Dorothy Parker's husband which is why Dorothy made her well known quip about Kate to the press -- the most famous review of any play, "Miss Hepburn ran the whole gamut of emotions -- from A to B" -- a quip still remembered long after the play itself (THE LAKE) has been forgotten.



You could call her bisexual.  

But most didn't.  Gore Vidal swore lesbian was the label.  She did sleep with men from time-to-time -- men who could help her career.  It's hilarious to watch CALL ME KATE insist that she was independent and in charge of her career -- they maintain this lie by leaving out Leland Hayword -- her agent who got her the studio contract.  She slept with him.  Pretended to be in love with him.  While carrying out multiple affairs.


She briefly slept with Lew Ayers.  More because he was Ginger Rogers' husband.  She loathed Ginger and the quote she said about Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers was that,  "He gave her class and she gave him ass."  As with so much about Hepburn, the quote has been cleaned up.  Hepburn hated Ginger Rogers, showed up to ridicule Ginger doing a screen test, once poured water onto Ginger from a window saying if her fur coat was really mink, it wouldn't shrink.  They fought frequently on the set of STAGE DOOR.  Throughout her life, Hepburn would either refer to Ginger with a slur or call her "Miss Ginger Snaps."


She lost Lew to Howard Hughes.  

She never forgave Lew for that.  

Not because she 'lost' Howard Hughes.  They were not an affair.  Bette Davis and many other women had affairs with Howard Hughes.  And they repeatedly talked about how all Howard wanted was for someone to go down on him.  


The 'documentary' lies that Hughes showed up in Boston when Hepburn was doing JANE EYRE and stayed with her as the show traveled.  (It never made it to Broadway and the playwright loathed what Hepburn did on stage).  But Hughes left Boston -- his flight out was documented.  He would later show up in Chicago -- again, the press covered this.  They were not on the road together, it's just one more lie in a series of lies in this bad trash called "a documentary."  

Over a year into the public relationship with Howard Hughes, Hughes slapped her hard across the face.  Why?  Because he told her he wanted to show her something that no one had seen but Cary Grant and Hepburn responded, "Your dick?"  They were never intimate. 


She and Robert Walker were never intimate either.  But when he was crushed over career and losing his wife, she did nurse him back to health in what let's call a 'motherly' way.  (She offered her breasts for him to suckle.)  She did put out when nursing Judy Garland.  But then, she usually did go all the way with women.  


Laura Harding?  They had a long affair that was sometimes violent.  Like when Laura endured Leland Hayward because of Hepburn's career but wasn't also planning to endure Hepburn's weekend get aways with film editor Jane Loring.  By the time Hepburn was sailing off to France with her latest fling -- Suzanne Steele, Laura had decided enough was enough.

 The 'documentary' can't be honest about Laura.  They have a woman posing as Hepburn stated that she won the role in A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT "and Laura was to play the supporting role.  Laura and I decided to move to Hollywood."  Laura had no supporting role in the film.  Bored, she went along to the set.  Feeling sorry for her, Cukor offered to let her be an extra for one day -- and only one day -- and would pay her ten dollars.  She got the ten dollars but she's not in the film.  She messed up the scene and Cukor stopped filming, marched up to her, slapped her across the face and that was an end of her career as an extra.


The 'documentary' can't be honest about anything.  Bonnie Greer tells one lie after another to the camera.  She insists that Hepburn came from a well off family and was "American aristocracy."  She wasn't and she didn't.

Her mother was Kit Hepburn, presumably a great woman but she wasn't part of society and she never could have been because she was an activist (women's suffrage and birth control).  She and her husband, a hospital doctor, had six children.  They lived in a small -- tiny -- house that would be destroyed -- long after Katharine Hepburn was making films -- by a hurricane.

Laura Harding was of the "American aristocracy."  Laura paid Kate's bills.  People wrongly assumed that Hepburn also came from big money.  The entertainment press popularized that lie and it's still repeated by idiots like Bonnie Greer ("you could hear in her voice that she had money") to this day.

But if idiots couldn't repeat lies, they'd never speak.


Take the mincing closet case who speaks for this awful 'documentary' when, after two minutes of assuring the audience that no-way, no-how could Hepburn of been gay, huffs, "You can't know and it's none of your business and who the hell cares!"


Climb back in the closet, Mary.


First off, this is a biography so, yeah, it does matter if she had sex with women. Especially when the documentary is happy to present her affairs and 'affairs' with Leland Hayward (who married actress Margaret Sullavan -- a bitter rival of Hepburn's -- still famous for the film THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER and also the ex-wife of Henry Fonda and director William Wyler), Howard Hughes and Spencer Tracy.  

Second, at this time in history, when LGBTQ+ persons are under attack, it especially matters.

Warren Beatty and Martin Scorsese embarrassed themselves this century with movies featuring Howard Hughes as a straight man who only had sex with women.  The world deserves better, film deserves better.  They were "old men" movies that shouldn't have been made in this century.  With a lot of star power, Scorsese's tired film made money.  Warren's just bombed. 

Looking at the top twenty film actors -- in terms of box office today -- we count three in fake relationships with women -- men who are gay but won't come out.

Maybe there's a valid reason or excuse for that.  Maybe there isn't.

But there's no damn excuse in the world why we can't be honest about the past.  If someone is dead, out them.  We mean that.  Dyan Cannon, you're helping no one by pretending Cary Grant was straight.  You better than anyone knows that was not the case.

And she's not the only one lying for someone else today.  

There's no excuse and there's no excuse to lie about Katharine Hepburn being gay.

She had a hissy fit on the set of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER because she wasn't the star -- Elizabeth Taylor was, followed by Montgomery Clift.  But the reason she spat on the director was because she heard him laughing about her and calling her a "d**e."  It was the talk of the set because she wouldn't stop coming onto Elizabeth Taylor.  As Elizabeth would tell us many times in her final years, she had no problem with anyone's sexuality but if she said "no" then she meant no but Katharine wouldn't accept that and Elizabeth had to tell her loudly in front of the crew that nothing was going to happen.  (Gore Vidal also loved to tell this story -- he co-wrote the screenplay.)  Hepburn was mortified.  She attempted to turn the cast and crew against Elizabeth but, unlike Hepburn, Elizabeth wasn't a prig and was well liked and she and Montgomery Clift had a strong and lasting friendship.  Hepburn couldn't stand Clift but would tell the tale of how mean the director was to Clift and insist that's why she spat on the director.  


Just no.

Scotty Bowers has written of how Hepburn solicited him for female prostitutes.  Gore Vidal and Larry Kramer spoke publicly of Hepburn's affairs with women.  The late Liz Smith is on camera (in the documentary SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD) talking about Hepburn's sexuality.

We're just not in the damn mood.  Nor should you be.  John Derek insisted that he slept with Spencer Tracy because he was in 'awe' of him.  Reality, Spencer paid him for sex. 

Hepburn was a so-so actress.  Robert Benchley nailed her limitations early on.  After the sixties, she never delivers a great film performance again.

We said film performance.

She does deliver a great performance on camera  October of 1973, she appears on THE DICK CAVETT SHOW and lies her way through about her and Spencer.  Maybe that's why her acting was so awful in the 70s and 80s?  She was too busy playing the lie of Spencer's lover to create another character?

While she pulled it off in October of 1973, by 1975, she had become a self-parody.  That's when she made her film with John Wayne -- a man she detested for his politics and for his attempts at acting (she didn't believe he could act).  But she went around talking about how manly he was and how attractive he was and how much he moved her.  We don't think even the pretense of Lily Tomlin and John Travolta as lovers -- pitched most infamously in a PEOPLE magazine cover story -- was more outrageous.


There is every reason to make a documentary about Katharine Hepburn but there is no reason to lie about her or to pretend that her life -- with more female lovers than we could ever name (including Hattie McDaniel) -- was one where she fell in love with men and, delicate flower, made Spencer Tracy her long term lover.  Garson Kanin -- friend to both and author of the laughable TRACY & HEPBURN -- always said privately that if the two ever did sleep together it was only for about six weeks when they first met.   


They never lived together.  He chose to live in a cottage on George Cukor's estate -- in part for access to male hustlers -- and he was very clear that he didn't want Kate staying over and sometimes not even visiting.  John Derek remembered Hepburn catching him with Spencer and her trying briefly to pretend to be shocked before begrudgingly admitting that she and Spencer Tracy were just friends despite rumors churned out to protect both of them.  (Tracy may been bisexual -- he slept with many women -- however in the last two decades of his life he rarely managed to get an erection so he instead gave blow jobs to men.)

Now think about it, what we're talking about here?  That's a hell of documentary.  And it's far more exciting and interesting than anything CALL ME KATE has to offer.



The 'documentary' ends with a woman declaring, "I found myself being inspired by Katharine, she was such a powerful icon for women."  The woman making this statement elects to pose and preen wearing a crotch patch and turning her back to the camera to show a thin sliver of cloth climbing up her ass crack.  That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this garbage. 



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