Home Entertainment ‘Oh my God, what will they think?’ How Katharine Hepburn was haunted by fear of audiences

‘Oh my God, what will they think?’ How Katharine Hepburn was haunted by fear of audiences

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‘Oh my God, what will they think?’ How Katharine Hepburn was haunted by fear of audiences

Her basic movies embody The African Queen and The Philadelphia Story and he or she nonetheless holds an Oscar report for 4 wins and 12 nominations, however Katharine Hepburn was haunted by a worry of performing. Regardless of her success as one of many trade’s foremost actresses, she noticed the viewers as her “pure enemy” and would repeatedly search reassurance of her expertise from these closest to her.

Her nephew, Mundy Hepburn, recalled that her nervousness was excessive when she got here backstage after stay performances: “Every now and then she’d puke within the wastebasket, as a result of she was so wired and scared and ‘Oh my God, what’ll they suppose? I’ve obtained to do a very good job’ … Then she’d go on stage and be completely good … She’d seize me by the shoulders. ‘Was I any good? Was I any good?’”

He’s amongst contributors in a brand new documentary on the star, which additionally attracts on beforehand unheard audio tapes, unseen house movies and pictures, to which a British film-maker has been given entry.

Titled Name Me Kate, will probably be screened by Sky Arts on 29 Might, 20 years after her loss of life.

Lorna Tucker, its director, instructed the Observer that she was stunned by the quantity of beforehand unknown materials, together with hours of interviews recorded by Glenn Plaskin, a author and Hepburn’s shut pal, wherein she had spoken of the nice love of her life, Spencer Tracy, saying that she fell in love with him “virtually instantly”.

Tucker stated of the fabric: “Hardly any had been seen or used, solely a tiny little bit of the house movies … hanging out with mates, playing around, diving … There have been reels nonetheless not digitalised, so it was unimaginable to be the primary folks to see it. Glenn Plaskin has by no means let anybody hear these audio tapes earlier than.”

Within the documentary, Mundy Hepburn additionally remembers the horror of his aunt discovering the useless physique of her beloved older brother, Tom, who was aged simply 16. She had gone to his room to fetch him for breakfast and located him hanging. She laid his chilly physique on the mattress and was devastated.

Hepburn stars with Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen in 1951
Hepburn with Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen in 1951. {Photograph}: Silver Display Assortment/Getty Pictures

The toughest half, she had stated, was being instructed “to behave as if he’d by no means lived” as that was how their father managed the household’s grief. Mundy Hepburn says within the documentary that the daddy, a health care provider, beloved his youngsters, however he was so harsh that by at the moment’s requirements he was “in all probability abusive”.

Within the audio tapes, Hepburn feedback on her brother’s loss of life: “I’ve come to the conclusion it was an accident.” She describes it as a dangling stunt that had gone flawed.

Tucker’s earlier productions embody a harrowing documentary on homelessness wherein she revisited websites wherein – as a teenage runaway – she had lived for 18 months some 25 years earlier. Titled Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son, it was narrated by Colin Firth. She stated of Hepburn: “On paper, we’re fully totally different girls, however the hardships she needed to endure and the trauma she suffered as a baby made me connect with her. I used to be additionally impressed by her resilience, to maintain on strolling when issues didn’t go effectively.

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“She was so insecure and he or she hated the best way she appeared, however she knew that she simply needed to play the sport. She was an unique icon and groundbreaking. She was, for instance, one of many first actresses to provide her personal movies.”

Hepburn as soon as described bargaining with two of Hollywood’s largest gamers, Louis B Mayer and Joseph L Mankiewicz, over The Philadelphia Story screenplay: “Inside I used to be nervous, however held agency and instructed them what I needed. $100,000 for the story and script, $100,000 for myself to star in it and $10,000 for my fee. The room went quiet. They tried to supply me $175,000, however I refused. I held my nerve.”

It labored. The movie went on to be nominated for six Oscars. James Stewart received finest actor and Donald Ogden Stewart received for his screenplay, tailored from Philip Barry’s unique play.

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