To the citizens of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, she was a special personal friend while to the world she was a global icon of theater and film. Katharine Hepburn has drawn a legion of fans through her magnificent career that lasted seven decades and she is beloved. How delightful, therefore, that WTNH television personality Ann Nyberg has taken the time and her talents as an interviewer to assemble a collection of stories and anecdotes from the family and friends who knew her best in a new book "Remembering Katharine Hepburn" recently published by Globe Pequot.
This legendary leading lady lived in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook for much of her life, in a home she termed "paradise." She could frequently be seen swimming in the waters outside her rambling house, or biking the lanes to town, playing golf or tennis. She religiously guarded her home as a sanctuary and wouldn't let anyone take anything from it, even seaweed. Hepburn would have been 110 next year but she was a fixture in Old Saybrook, now boasting a theater, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center on Main Street, where the book was recently unveiled. The theater is affectionately called "The Kate" and has a museum in her honor on the first floor and an intimate playhouse on the second where many of her fifty films are often screened.
With a favorite color of red, a sense of style that introduced slacks as an appropriate mode of dress for women long before its time, and an independent spirit marked by moxie, Hepburn was unique in her approach to life. Briefly wed at a young age, she knew marriage and children were not her calling, not when the stage and movies drew her so definitely.
The book was not Ann Nyberg's idea. She was exhausted having just finished writing "Slice of Life," but Globe Pequot made a request she couldn't refuse, "to reintroduce Katharine Hepburn to a new generation." Now she is so "excited to see the book in print." Ironically Ann had tried on several occasions to interview the lady in question, once even speaking to her on the telephone but it wasn't destined to be. She was shy of press interviews. With this book, Nyberg got to speak to people related to her and hear stories of how kind she was, like rescuing a teenager in a snow storm, as well as "brash and bold" like no tolerating any one chewing gum in her presence. To Kate, everything was black and white...career was everything. She worked for a span of seventy years, right to the end. She won four Academy Awards but never went to the ceremonies.
A proper lady, she was big on manners and a great recluse, one who valued her privacy. She always wanted to play the lead and "matter." Even though she died at 96 in 2003, she is still an icon, people are still talking about her and she enjoyed being a star. In this book, the reader will find sprinkles of her wit and wisdom and how much she cared for her friends and for her "nutty" family. She was often seen picking blueberries in her trademark straw hat, scarf and sunglasses or at Walt's Market buying baloney. She loved life and wasn't adverse to speaking her mind, setting a fashion statement by wearing slacks or by being independent.
The theater named for her will benefit from the sale of this book and is, in a sense, the interview that Ann Nyberg never got to have with this definitely different and unique individual who left her mark on our hearts for eternity. Who else would think of giving a trophy of cinnamon toast as a prize for winning a dance contest?