Like Katharine Hepburn

Alfred-Eisenstaedt's portrait of Katharine Hepburn

Alfred-Eisenstaedt's portrait of Katharine Hepburn


I saw a great blog today “What Would Katharine Hepburn do?” Check it out.

It made me think of the ways that Katharine Hepburn influenced me. She possessed so many qualities I admire. Her unselfconscious beauty, her disciplined routines, her talent, the way she bucked trends to be herself.  I read her book and she inspired me to quit smoking. I did it just the way she did. Cold turkey. When I smoked, I smoked full out, loving every minute of it. When the moment came to quit, which appeared unbidden in the middle of a smoke, I smoked that last cigarette down, stamped it out, took all the brand-new unopened cartons of cigs and all my ashtrays and marched them down to the dumpster. And I never looked back. Nor did she. I’m very proud of that accomplishment. Proud to have done something that Katharine had also accomplished.

I’ve always found it odd that such an independent, strong-willed, disciplined and intelligent woman could have spent so many years in a relationship with a married, Catholic alcoholic.  I’ve lived with an alcoholic and it’s not a pretty life. That seems to be the only thing she did that appeared to go against her grain, and yet it is what she is most remembered for. For being part of Tracy & Hepburn. That she loved him is apparent. But as anyone who has danced with the dark side of booze knows, love doesn’t figure into it. As the song says, “What’s love got to do with it?” We diverged, Katharine and I on this point. I left my alcoholic behind me and spent my life with a non-drinker instead.

She grew old as I would like to, strong, independent, healthy, engaged. I haven’t got her resolve, her inner strength, her steely discipline which allowed her to swim in the frigid Atlantic ocean every day until an accident sidelined her. This is the biggest difference between us. I’m not comfortable with being sweaty. I lack discipline in many ways. I don’t honour my body the way she did, keeping it limber and strong. She was raised to do so by her physician father and emancipated mother. Their big brood of a family were happy, competitive, athletic and healthy. I was raised by two lethargic smoking fat people one of which died young and the other wasted away into her disintegrating shell of a body until she took her own life with an overdose of morphine. Not the way I want to do it. Katharine kept active and ate healthily. It toward this end I aspire. I  try to do this every day, without much success, I’ll grant you. But it is my goal. To do what Katharine Hepburn would do.


2 thoughts on “Like Katharine Hepburn

  1. Fantastic post!! I love Katharine Hepburn…. which led me to this post. I’m so glad I found your blog … wonderful, heartfelt honesty. (Good for you for quitting smoking, btw!!)

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