Classic Entertainment Autographs

Cat. #001514333: KATHARINE HEPBURN

Highly rare and quite superb borderless 8x10-inch sepia-tone portrait as Mary, Queen of Scots in Mary of Scotland (1936), signed and inscribed in black fountain pen at the time of the film. In good condition, with the writing just a hint light. "I'm a personality as well as an actress," Katharine Hepburn once declared. "Show me an actress who isn't a personality, and you'll show me a woman who isn't a star." Indeed, the actress was a true individual, with her distinct New England accent and bony frame, ever-expanding mind, and inability to tell anything less than the truth. Critical reactions to her first film, A Bill of Divorcement in 1932, set the tone for the next decade: Some thought that she was the freshest and most original actress in Hollywood, while others were irritated by her mannerisms and "artificial" speech patterns. The following year, she starred in Morning Glory (1933), for which she nabbed her first of four Oscars. Despite increasingly positive reviews, Hepburn lost popularity during her RKO stay because of her dismissal of the "Hollywood game." She dressed in unfashionable slacks and wore no make-up; refused to pose for pin-ups, give autographs, or grant interviews; and avoided mingling with her co-workers. As stories of her arrogance and self-absorption leaked out, moviegoers avoided her films. The fact that Hepburn was a thoroughly dedicated professional, letter-perfect in her lines, and completely prepared and researched in her roles, was of little import.  Efforts to "humanize" the haughty Hepburn personality in Stage Door (1937) and the delightful Bringing Up Baby (1938) came too late; in 1938, she was deemed "box-office poison" by an influential exhibitor's publication. Hepburn's career might have ended then and there, but she was no quitter: She went back to Broadway in 1938 with a part written especially for her in Philip Barry's "The Philadelphia Story". Certain of a hit, she bought the film rights to the play; thus, when it ended up a success, she was able to negotiate her way back into Hollywood on her own terms, including her choice of director and co-stars.  Produced by MGM in 1940, the film version was a box-office triumph, and Hepburn was back in the movie game.  In her next MGM film, Woman of the Year (1942), Hepburn co-starred with Spencer Tracy, a celebrated teaming that endured both professionally and personally until Tracy's death in 1967. After several years of off-and-on films, Hepburn scored another success with 1951's The African Queen, marking her switch from youngish sophisticates to middle-aged character leads. After 1962's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hepburn withdrew from performing for nearly five years, devoting her attention to her ailing friend and lover Tracy. She made the last of her eight screen appearances with Tracy in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), which also featured her niece Katharine Houghton. Hepburn won her second Oscar for this film, and her third the following year for A Lion in Winter; the fourth was bestowed 13 years later for On Golden Pond (1981).