Katharine Hepburn vas in love with Spencer Tracv. They’d met on he set ofWomarı of the lfear, for which she was
tominated for a Best Actress Oscar the ollowing March (she won four timesverall). Hepburn you afrvays use her last
ıame, like a man, not Katharine or Katewas 35. She had a big bucks MGM ontract with seript and direetor approval.
îhe wure Levi’s bhıe jeans dnehed with an id brown beh under shin length minks.
July, she went home to Connecticut for time out of town trial run of the play Vithouî Love at the BushneU Theater, îartford. Backstage, on a waU in the I reen room where the players. by radition, scrawled their names and
its of sentimental grease paint graffiti, he left a rare autograph and, under nat, the words “Local Girl”.
Hepburn was totally, completely, Connecticut. (Connecticut: the mother md of grosgrain headbands and ride wale corduroys; of gin and tonics; Miss Forter’s fmishing school.) She was New Engiand to the marrow: Waspy, ragmatic, independent, proud to a fault.
he faced down Humphrey Bogart and a legion leecfaes in a swamp in The African Queen, iade Caıy Grant love her in Bringing Up baby, and regularly chopped her own firewood femily jHoperty near the Connecticut coast efene driving it back to New York City in the dırnk of her car. When filling out official documents decades after she hit it big in insettown, she persisted in putting down the idress of her chıldhood home : 133 Hawthom treet, Hartford, Connecticut, USA.
The 1949 passport bearing this telüngdetail dong with a picture of Hepburn looking
Topright, Hepburn, photographed for in 1940. For sale: dockwise from above, a painting byttıe actress of Old Saybrook Lighttıouse; a sketctı of her witft Spencer IracybY Al Krsdrfekl; her Louis Vuitton hıggage; her address s
Ih ferocious, Max Factor movie star pancake blotting out her freekles, with full blown glamour hair) is among 600
somehow tangibly touching lots of Hepburn memorabilia to be auctioned on June 10 and 11 at Sotheby’s in New York. The Hepburn sale is the biggest thing to hit Sotheby’ s since it sold Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ silver Tiffany
tape measure for $48,875 along with 1,300 other mementos in 1996.
Probably this is because Hepburn, like Jackie O (who, by contrast, will always be remembered fondly, familiarly, by her first name) entered the national psyehe deep down. Both made the over used term “fashion icon” ring true (Jackie popularising the pillbox hat and Bili Blass’ boxy shifts; Hepburn sporting tweed trousers and Oxford button downs borrowed from an obliging boyfriend). Both were fantast ically attract i ve, in that very thin, bigtoothed, East Coast sodaüte way. Both were American archetypes.
The Hepburn collection is personal, each piece being something the actress kept elose to her at her East 49th Street Manhattan townhouse or at Fenwick, her estate on the Connecticut shoreline, where she died last year at the age of 96. There is a tamished silverplate hairbrush and hand mirror set, engraved with KHH (estimate: $6 800; the middle Clockwisefromabove, the African mask that Hepburn thoughtlooked ;her passports; the actress in 1935;
anEmestBachradıportraitof her, whkh ispari of the sate is for Houghton), which Leila Dunbar, Sotheby V senior vice president in charge of oolİectables, says she decided not to have polished. There is a cream velvet tunic with gold embroidery on the chest and sleeves (est: $2,500 3,500) that Hepburn wore when she married Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928at home on Hawthom Street (they got a Mexican divoroe seven years later). There are plenty of hats a black beanie from Hattie Camegie, a white Chanel cartwheel and several peaked Confederate Anny looking caps.
There are old wooden skis and sleds; there are tennis whites and golf clubs. Rosycheeked outdoorsiness is, of course, another veıy New England trait. And an iron jawed stoicism you might even say masochism in the pursuit of fıtness and sport: Hepburn, famously, swam in the chill grey waters of Long Island Sound most momings, even in winter, and kept up the habit into her eighties.
“Without discipline,” she said, “there’s no life at ali.”
Hepburn shacked up for a time with the movie producer, aviator, mogul and eccentric Howard i Hughes, in a house he owned in LA next to the Bel Air Countıy Club. The couple had only to climb the fence for a round of golf. According to Dunbar, who likes to joke that she’s Sotheby V in house “forensic celebritologist”, Hughes once landed a seaplane on the links. Hepburn saved her membership card to the club for more than half a centuıy (est: $300 500).
On the inside cover of one ofHepbum’s thick square address s from Smythson of Bond Street (est: $2 3,000) she has written, in her unique handelegant Deco curves with bony capitals stuck helter skelter in the middle of words “If Found Retum to 9191 St Ives, Los Angeles.”
That was the house she had borrowed for a time from George Cukor, the great director of Adarn’s Rib and The Philadelphia Story; in Hollywood, it seems, Hepburn leaned on the hospitality of friends. The address s are a roll call of the transcontinental great and good: Noel Coward, Douglas Fairbanks; Cristöbal Balenciaga in Madrid; Hubert Lanvin in Paris; Hair Masters of Thurloe Street in London. On the flyleaf of one of these address s are neatly totted up columns of Christmas tips for her staff: $45 for a doorman or $60 for a dog walker. Such a Yankee calculation. Pragmatic. Punctilious.
On location, alone, Hepburn would paint. She had become hooked on the hobby during acruise on Howard Hughes’ yacht.
Sotheby’s will selilot after lot of Connecticut shoreline scenes, in particular painting after painting of the Old
Saybrook Lighthouse, whose red top she could see from her bedroom window. She was tied to that place; she valued her roots more than she valued celebrity. “Life’s what’s important,” she “Nothing high style, everything provincial, lots of aged and wom wood, rush seats…” says Jason Preston, a young Sotheby’s furniture and decorative arts specialist, picking his way through the cavemous warehouse at a top secret address in Harlem. There is a William and Mary serving table (est: $1,200 1,800) as well as two copies of it (est: $3 5,000) that she commissioned from a Mr Margolis of Hartford.