Katharine Hepburn Born 100 Years Ago

Katharine Hepburn was born a hundred years ago Saturday. She had great cheekbones, tomboy shoulders, and the purr of a cat getting ready to pounce. She could be famously rude and cutting. But few American actors have left as vivid an image of independence and integrity as Katharine Hepburn.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Katharine Hepburn was born 100 years ago today. She had great cheekbones, tomboyish shoulders and the purr of a cat getting ready to pounce. She cold be famously rude and cunning. Her one marriage was a sham. She fooled around with billionaire Howard Hughes and had a two decades long affair with the married Spencer Tracy that was just about the worst kept secret in Hollywood. A Fsew American actress have left as vivid an image of independence and integrity as Katharine Hepburn.

In 1940's "The Philadelphia Story," she played a willful socialite doodling with Jimmy Stewart

(Soundbite of movie, "The Philadelphia Story")

Ms. KATHARINE HEPBURN (Actress): (As Tracy Lord) You're the worst kind there is. An intellectual snob. You made up your mind awfully young, it seems to me.

Mr. JIMMY STEWART (Actor): (As Macaulay Connor) Thirty is about time to make up your mind. And I'm nothing of the sort. Not Mr. Connor.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Tracy Lord) The time to make up your mind about people is never. Bet you are and a complete one.

Mr. STEWARD: (As Macaulay Connor) You're quite a girl, aren't you?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Tracy Lord) You think?

Mr. STEWARD: (As Macaulay Connor) Yeah, I know.

SIMON: Yes, she was. In 1951's "The African Queen," she was Rosie, the missionary, to bogies old rummy and it spun away to turned a barge into a war boat.

(Soundbite of movie, "The African Queen")

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Rose Sayer) If we were to fill load cylinders with that blasting gelatin, and then fix them so that they would stick out over the end of the boat and then run the boat against the side of a ship, they would go off just like torpedo, wouldn't they?

Unidentified Man: Hey, yeah. That detonator is in the end.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Rose Sayer) We said, what do you call it? Get a good head of steam up and then point to launch toward a ship and just before she hit, we could dive off, couldn't we?

Unidentified Man: Sure, Miss. Sure. Absolutely, Miss. There's only one little thing wrong with your idea. There ain't nothing to torpedo.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Rose Sayer) Oh, yes, there is.

Unidentified Man: There's what?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Rose Sayer) Something to torpedo.

Unidentified Man: What's that?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Rose Sayer) The Louisa(ph).

SIMON: In the 1949's "Adam's Rib," she and her old lover played an old married couple, attorneys sparring over a case and leftovers.

(Soundbite of scene from "Adam's Rib")

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) And he is a hungry man?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) He is a souffle, maybe.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) No. No. No. No.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Huh?

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Curry. Lamb curry. What do you say?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Terrific.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Ah. Chutney. Chutney. Chutney.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Yes, I think so.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) And do you know? You were pretty cute in there today, my little.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) You weren't so bad yourself, chum.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Do you mind a bit of the old garlic?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Why? A bit.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Spinky(ph).

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) What, panky?

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Do me a favor, will you?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Not too much salt?

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) No. Drop the case.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) I can't.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Why not?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) It's my call.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) I know. I know. But I - I don't ask many favors.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Sure you do.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) You could handle it from your desk.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Not as good.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Practically.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Listen, darling, I know that deep down you agree with me, with everything I want and hope and believe in. We couldn't be so close if you didn't, if I didn't feel that you did.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Oh, sure. Sure.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) I'll take this trial. Sure, maybe, they have some of the inconvenience of the spotlight, but that's my whole point.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) What point?

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Not any green peppers? Indigestible.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Well, everything is indigestible to some people.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) Anyway, I don't like green peppers.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) All right. No. No. No. People will be making jokes about us over the radio before long.

Ms. HEPBURN: (As Amanda Bonner) All in a good cause.

Mr. TRACY: (As Adam Bonner) Your cause.

SIMON: Katharine Hepburn. Ouch. This is NPR News.

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