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Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

William J. Mann

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31. Oktober 2006
The first major Katharine Hepburn biography independent of her control reveals the smart, complicated, and sophisticated woman behind the image

Onscreen she played society girls, Spencer Tracy's sidekick, lionesses in winter. But the best character Katharine Hepburn ever created was Katharine Hepburn: a Connecticut Yankee, outspoken and elegant, she wore pants whatever the occasion and bristled at Hollywood glitter. So captivating was her image that she never seemed less than authentic. But how well did we know her, really? Was there a woman behind the image who was more human, more driven, and ultimately more triumphant because of her vulnerability?

William J. Mann--a cultural historian and journalist, a sympathetic admirer but no mere fan--has fashioned an intimate, often revisionist, and truly unique close-up that challenges much of what  we think we know about the Great Kate. Previous biographies--mostly products of friends and fans--have recycled the stories she hid behind, taking Hollywood myths at face value. Mann goes deeper, delivering new details from friends and family who have not been previously interviewed and drawing on materials only available since Hepburn's death.

With affection, intelligence, and a voluminous knowledge of Hollywood history, Mann shows us how a woman originally considered too special and controversial for fame learned the fine arts of movie stardom and transformed herself into an icon as durable and all-American as the Statue of Liberty.


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"She wrote memoirs, she gave interviews, and she talked, talked, talked. We thought we knew everything about Katharine Hepburn, but we actually knew only what she wanted us to know. Kate, William J. Mann's exciting new biography, pulls back those carefully drawn curtains to reveal the real Hepburn--a different but far more interesting woman than the one we thought we knew."--Gerald Clarke, author of Capote
"William J. Mann's biography of Katharine Hepburn deepens the focus on the singular life of this spectacular 20th century personality. An extraordinary job of research, and a tremendously satisfying presentation. This is solid craftsmanship, entertaining, well presented and completely satisfying."--Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant
"Katharine Hepburn is a 10,000 piece jigsaw.  I would have defied anyone to have assembled the puzzle as beautifully as William Mann has done.  What a job!  This is one of the best books ever written about a movie star and the complexities and compromises involved with fame and celebrity.  It delves intimately, candidly, mesmerizingly, into Hepburn's 'dual' sexuality as a key to her persona.  The reporting is fresh and persuasive, the tone intelligent and compassionate.   This is the book that finally pierces the mystery of the human being behind the legend.  I couldn't stop reading--or thinking--about it."--Patrick McGilligan, author of George Cukor: A Double Life and Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light
"The time is ripe, the author is right, for this eye-opening biography. With humor and a sympathy unclouded by awe, Mann dismantles the elaborate charade that went into the Katharine Hepburn mystique.  Not least fascinating is the ambiguous sexuality that lay behind the deceptively straightforward image, carefully crafted by Hepburn herself with the eager compliance of reporters and fans."--Molly Haskell, author of From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
"Kate is a fascinating exploration into the secret life of one of Hollywood's greatest icons. I thought I knew a lot about Katharine Hepburn until I read William J. Mann's stunning biography. He has explored and explained her vulnerabilities, her fears, and most of all her intense, passionate friendships with other women. The story turns out to be richer and more amazing than I could have imagined. Mann's account is mesmerizing and well researched; he is psychologically acute without ever being clinical, deeply respectful without being reverential. Plus, Kate is a wonderful read--I could not put it down."--Patricia Bosworth, author of Diane Arbus: A Biography
"William Mann has produced a significant biography of a woman whose complicated personality ahs never been fully captured. He has presented not only an intriguing portrait of Katharine Hepburn but also an accurate picture of her Hollywood and the difficult business of stardom."--Gore Vidal
William Mann's Kate promises and delivers "the woman who was Hepburn" as no previous book has done. Mann's research is awe-inspiring, but his wonderfully readable account of Hepburn's ambitions, personality, and needs adds up to much more than that. It makes vivid a life that is -- on the page -- like its subject: unflinching, clear-eyed, and compassionate. I doubt very much we will have a more authoritative or fascinating Kate.--Steven Bach, author of Final Cut and Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl
"Biography is often the greatest form of fiction, pretending to do what only novels really can---present people all-of-a-piece.  In that paradoxical sense, William Mann's "Kate" is a novel work of biography, indeed.  Elegantly written, rich in detail, a model of thorough research, it dispenses with the need to turn an icon as complex as Hepburn into something black or white.  This fullest-ever portrait of the lioness is painted in all the ambiguous shades of gray she shared with us lesser mortals.  Careful and contemplative in separating life from legend, Mann sheds bright new light on both."--Barry Paris, author of Garbo, Louise Brooks and Audrey Hepburn
"Mann makes major corrections to earlier Hepburn biographies, creating a picture of a complex woman rather than the icon she worked hard to become in the public's eye. Prepare yourself for Mann's shattering of the legend."--Publishers Weekly Book Life, Fall Harvest Best Books
"Mann considers the vibrant life of a 20th-century icon with encyclopedic scrutiny and a pinch of whimsy. . . . an engaging, comprehensive biography. Tapping into a wellspring of sources, the author has managed to reanimate with great skill and dexterity this shrewd, sophisticated woman. A sprawling salute to an awe-inspiring, world-class actor."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

William J. Mann has written for The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, The Hartford Courant, Salon, and other publications. He is the author of Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger; Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood; and Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines. He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.


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Amazon.com: 3.4 von 5 Sternen  69 Rezensionen
66 von 83 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Really rather boring as well as pointless 19. Dezember 2006
Von Loribee - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Unless the purpose of the book was only to "out" Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and, apparently, everyone else Kate knew, in which it tries very hard to achieve its objective.

I found the book to be difficult to read, and often difficult to believe. So many things didn't add up, and I often found myself thinking "now, how did the author know that?" Mann uses a lot of innuendo, and in order to actually KNOW the things he claims, he would have had to have been in the bedrooms of the people involved.

I read a lot of good reviews before purchasing the book, and can only say I was disappointed. After the first chapter I GOT the idea - Kate was gay or bisexual, at least in the author's opinion - so much paper could have been saved without the rest of the book.

When I was about 10, I was a tomboy. I wanted to be a boy. I buy and wear men's jeans because they fit better. I played with my brothers and their friends, not my sister or "dumb dolls". God only knows where the author could go with that information. When I was older, I had close female friends, and close male friends - with that information, the author could write a similar book about me, I think. Except I've never been sexually attracted to other women, and I'm happily married.

My real problem with the book, aside from the fact that it was not interesting reading, is that I couldn't understand why someone would write a book trying to prove a person was gay or bisexual. It just got tedious after a while.

One can always find "someone" who said "something", and the author did have an agenda. Whether or not Kate was bisexual or gay does not a book make. Speculation about it makes even less of a book.

This was not the definitive bio of Kate that people claimed it was. The author started with a thesis, or opinion, and set out to prove it - to me, not very successfully. Perhaps one day there will be a definitive biography of Hepburn. Possibly her sexuality will be part of it - the small part that it should be when one writes about a life. I look forward to that book.
19 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen It is way too easy 30. Dezember 2008
Von C. Holden - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
for a biographer to come up with a 'theme', i.e. homosexuality/asexuality and run with it - in this case run with it far beyond any possible interest. Mann repeats his point about everyone in Hepburn's world being one or the other so often it is truly tedious. Spencer Tracy arrives on the page and you are simply waiting until he is outed too, which, of course, is not a long wait.
I do wonder , too, whether Mr Mann has ever taken care of a sick person for a long period of time, as Hepburn took care of Tracy. My guess is not, because if he had, he might not have dismissed the feelings she subsequently expressed about their relationship with such seeming triumph.
He has mined the sexual vein of all connected with Hepburn to such a degree, the book is bloodless and boring.
50 von 65 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Not Very Credible 25. März 2007
Von Rachael Crawley - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Hi, the account-holder's daughter here. I do not reflect the opinion of the person who has this account.

I will not talk about Hepburn's sexuality, because the only person who knew for sure is dead. Instead, I will point out that this book makes many factual errors. It claims that Hepburn had a hysterectomy, ignoring the fact that Hepburn mentions having her period in 1951, eighteen years after the supposed surgery. It gets Spencer Tracy's drinking habits entirely wrong- he was a binge drinker, not a regular drinker. The author uses a witness, Scotty, who has said before that he has lied to biographers. Mann also takes comments out of context and manipulates them to suit his own purposes. An example here:

Mann told an interviewer that Hepburn told Dick Cavett she was a "missing link" between the genders, to support his theory that Hepburn was transgender. Wrong! Though she did say "missing link", it was to refer to her position in the family (her younger siblings were all much younger than she- thus a "missing link" between children and parents), not her gender at all.

Maybe Hepburn was bisexual, or lesbian. Maybe her relationship with Spencer Tracy was exaggerated. And perhaps she was, in fact, transgender. There's no problem in that. However, I personally would need a more credible source than what Mann has provided.
18 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen "I put on pants years ago and declared a sort of middle road." 17. November 2007
Von Luan Gaines - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Mann's take on Hepburn's life seems to be a love it or hate it proposition for many readers; however, approaching this book with no preconceived notions or expectations, I found this biography both fascinating and reflective of the complicated world of wealth, show business and the creative temperament. Movies have long been a great source of escape, but they do create passionate loyalty in fans as we project our own interpretations of great screen characters. Mann looks deeper into Hepburn's years onscreen and off, as well as her motivations, her cultural background and penchant for the bohemian lifestyle that so attracted to those who could indulge themselves, by virtue of entitlement and an appreciation of the arts.

During her youth, Hepburn nurtured a desire to be special, believing in her destiny, although the first years on the stage were not as successful as she hoped. Child of a distant, critical father, Kate was profoundly affected by her father's lack of affection, a gawky girl who later grows into a beauty, half tomboy, half girl, ever straddling the two. As a free spirit ("financial security was something she took for granted"), Kate had a strong drive toward independence, yet was drawn to older men, a recurring cycle of father figures who harbored some private sexual ambiguity. In the 30s and 40s, Kate was in a unique position to avail herself of the diverse lifestyles of Greenwich Village, enjoying the gender ambivalence that appealed to those not constricted by public sanctimony. Pre-tabloid times afforded more privacy; certainly in Hollywood's glory days, the stars were able to indulge their private interests without public scrutiny until the Legion of Decency reared its ugly head.

In that context, Hepburn appears more concerned with a career and the close friendships that would last throughout her life, both male and female, than with moral conventions. More interesting is Kate's lack of success on the New York stage, although always supported by enthusiastic friends, and her almost predictable choice of mates, allowing her private life a semblance of normalcy while preserving a strong need for independence. Hollywood was eventually more appreciative of the actress's talents, although the early years provided only sporadic success. Hepburn broke into mainstream popularity in her films with Spencer Tracy, their onscreen chemistry fueling the public's imagination throughout her life, albeit later revised by Kate herself. The much-touted romance between Hepburn and Tracy did much to repair an often confusing image, fending off rumors about Kate's relationships with female friends. Although the two stars did share an intense and long-lasting affection, it was perhaps not the romance of the century imaged by the public, Spencer devoutly depressed and often intractable, easily fitting into the stereotype of Kate's partners of choice- strong males with other, less acceptable (at least to them), sexual proclivities.

A deeply complicated woman whose personal life was defined by her childhood disappointments and ambition to rise above the ordinary, viewing this actress in a social context creates a much fuller and less biased image, her talent blooming on the screen, her personal demons, loves and friendships the fabric of Kate's identity. Perhaps truth, or perceived truth, is never as palatable as our definition of it; in the final analysis, the gods we create have little to do with reality. Luan Gaines/2007.
9 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Meh 7. Mai 2008
Von AAreader - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Overly wordy and far too long this bio is often too speculative to be considered really credible. It's more about the author and his agenda than it is an honest, clear-eyed look at Hepburn's life and work.

More often than not I wanted to abandon this book. Reading it through to the end was a project not a pleasure.
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