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Tracy and Hepburn

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,525 ratings  ·  51 reviews
This classic Hollywood memoir is again available, now with a new foreword by the author. Spence Tracy and Kate Hepburn were the couple everyone knew of but no one really knew anything about. What kept these two opposites together makes for an interesting read.
Paperback, 307 pages
Published October 31st 1988 by Plume (first published 1970)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,525 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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gizelle bendaña
"Hepburn started wearing pants and outraging people in grade school when girls and women in pants were unheard-of, and never stopped; she was the first girl to wear pants to class at Bryn Mawr, and in fact "they became her trademark... her baggies were so raggedy she held them up with safety pins, a style that, when combined with Hepburn's devotion to the pursuit of fun (smoking; skinny-dipping in the library fountain; breaking and entering), could best be described as Hobo Flapper.

One of my fav
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing and never boring ~ well written, and with such affection for his friends of so many years (meaning Spencer and Katharine), but I know that Kate was very disturbed and betrayed by Mr. Kanin writing this book, so I have some trouble with that. Mr. Karin even writes an entire page about how important privacy was to Kate, and yet, he completely exposes their personalities in this book. Part of me is thrilled beyond belief that he did (the selfish part of me, as a fan and reader ...more
Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it
If your looking for a book about Tracy and Hepburn's relationship together, this is not the book. It is however a wonderful look into the lives of Hepburn and Tracy individually as told by a dear friend. ...more
Amy Andrews
I greatly enjoyed reading this memoir, but I couldn't shift a slight feeling of guilt that wouldn't go away.

Garson Kanin was a great personal friend of Katharine Hepburn's, and early on in the book he writes:

"It is odd that Kate, for so many years a public figure, should be a private person. Privacy to her is more than a desired condition. It is a passion, a cause, an emotional necessity in the shape of religion. Her life, she maintains, is none of your business."

If he knows that this is none of
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies, meh
It wasn't at all what I was expecting. Turns out it's more about the friendship the author had with Spence and Kate. He also jumped from place to place, which I didn't like at all.
If you're looking for a read about Spencer's relationship with Katharine in general, I would highly recommend An Affair to Remember by Christopher Andersen and not this book.
Christine Grant
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is just what it says it is... an intimate portrait of the true lives of Hepburn and Tracy from someone who was there.
Sep 29, 2022 rated it did not like it
okay so, I kept reading this for the anecdotes about Tracy and Hepburn, as an eternal Hepburn admirer. There were good insights into the mundane details of their life experiences. However, just because Kanin was in Hollywood does not make him a writer. Stylistically, the writing was very sporadic, stream of consciousness but not in a pleasant way. more like jolting memories. the order did not make sense to me, and almost disturbed the anecdotes, some of which were intriguing or insightful. but m ...more
Sarah Andreotti
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish this book because I found it too boring. I usually like books with short anecdotes and funny stories, but this just was not interesting or entertaining to me. I love Kate and Spence, so I tried to get through it, but it just wasn't working for me. I read that Kate was very upset with Kanin for writing this book, and I can't understand why he put their many years of friendship on the line for this. Did he think it was worth it in the long run? I'll shelve this one and maybe try ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is written in that familiar, saucy way that good storytellers at cocktail parties have. So it’s a very entertaining read. But only *very* dedicated fans of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn should attempt it because the author drops so many casual references to their oeuvres, their lives, and life in the 40s and 50s that you’ll be googling constantly if you aren’t already well-versed in their history.
Jeff Clausen
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A first rate biography about two of the best, by their pal who was there when Kate and Spence began working together. Dozens and dozens of anecdotes about acting, vacationing and just hanging out, with a trove of insider stuff about these two and plenty of other famous names.i now have a list of a half dozen films with Tracy and Hepburn that I need to watch.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
It was nice to see a more personal view of the two, both as a couple and as individuals. It was also funny to see his take on them as people. I laughed out loud so many times. 3.5/5
April Suter
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Garson tells his memories of the acting duo in a random way.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this because it brings up people who are long gone and it’s interesting so think about them again. I am now wanting to watch all the really old movies!
Bob Box
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read in 1972. Kanin was a great writer and his storys of Hollywood were always fascinating.
Oct 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
By the time I happen upon this amazing story at a San Francisco book fair in 1995, it has clearly seen better days. But that's what I love about used books. You can tell the ones that really stirred an interest in the previous owner. It's as if you can feel and interpret their reading experience by the imprints they left on the pages and unbeknownst to him or her was obviously donated when their backs were turned or as the result of death and the distribution of worldly possessions. That can be ...more
Alexandra the Great
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wish that I could have been friends with Katharine Hepburn. There's so many great anecdotes in this book. Probably the best is Kate looking at a house with a realtor and disappearing to take a shower, justifying it with, "Well, if I'm going to be living here, I ought to know what the shower's like", and Kanin's bemused observation that she makes a fair point. Also the story about Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier's wedding is fantastic too. ...more
Amelia C
Sep 02, 2014 rated it liked it
On vacation, and picked this book up off the rental home's bookshelf and strangely I could not put it down. I never cared for Katherine Hepburn and by the end of this memoir, still not sure I do. Yet Kanin writes well and you really get a lot of Hollywood stories and background. You get nothing about Spencer and Hepburn's relationship. There is a lot of recent speculation were they lovers or were they gay friends and this book won't answer that question. Kanin was a friend from that era when a s ...more
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: egomaniacal-bios
When I began reading this memoir, I commented that it must be very pleasant to have a dear friend recall many little episodes of your life in a most affectionate light. And it is.

If that friend has, on occasion, observed you being not-exactly-at-your-sweetest, it's only fair that he relate some of those occasions as well.

But if you are the reader of these collected anecdotes, you may find it slightly offputting to have every single one of them presented as just the darlingest thing ever. They m
Destinee Sutton
I haven't finished this yet, but I just read something in the NYT that blew my mind. Here Kanin is going on and on about how great Tracy and Hepburn were together, and lo and behold:

"A new biography, “Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn,” by William J. Mann, has reopened the question of her sexual identity, painting a picture of her as a sex-averse woman with lesbian leanings who preferred to spend her time with closeted gay men, one of whom, Mr. Mann says, was Spencer Tracy." [http://www.nytimes.c
Jeaninne Escallier Kato
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of my absolute favorite things to do is to peruse used book stores for little gems from the past. This book, written when I was still in high school (now retired), certainly ranks among diamonds as something revered and treasured. Garson Kanin was a renown playwright, author and director (married to the irrepressible, Ruth Gordon, from "Harold and Maude" fame) who proudly called Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn his best friends. And they were. It is so refreshing to read about great stars ...more
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Katherine Hepburn was an amazing woman. She worked hard, she loved life and she lived her own way. Her and Spencer Tracy had an amazing love story. He was a good man and lived well, without the day to day gossip we see so much of today. He never divorced his wife, and he never flaunted his time with Kate. They kept their love between themselves and a few beloved friends. What a wonderful story. I have begun to watch Hepburn and Tracy films, and it makes them more enjoyable when you know some of ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely and loving intimate memoir of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. It's like sitting down with their old friend and listening to him tell you all his favorite stories about his two friends and his wife while weaving in their biographies.

Two very interesting people fleshed out as real and admirable.

"Wouldn't it be great if people could live as suddenly as they died?" - Katherine Hepburn
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I was a little disappointed in the content of the book. The title implies that the book is about Spencer Tracy and Kathrine Hepburn and their relationship. However, the book is more about the relationship that the author, Garson Kanin had with Tracy and Hepburn, individually and as a couple. While there are some good stories, and I got a little insight into both Hepburn and Tracy, I don't feel I learned much about them as a couple. ...more
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent memoir of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn written by one of their friends and sometime collaborator, writer/playwright Garson Kanin, who was married to actress Ruth Gordon. These four people were friends over a couple of decades and Kanin talks about each of the two at length, telling both personal and professional stories. Very enjoyable.

**#80 of 100 books pledged to read/review during 2015**
Miko Lee
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I adored this wonderful love story of two of my favorite old time actors. Sweet anecdotes written by the talented Kanin. The only sad part is the fact that Hepburn refused to speak to her once best friend Kanin after the book was published. Still a remarkable feat and behind the scenes look into these great icons.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
A personal tribute from their good friend. I enjoyed reading of their habits, character, converations, etc.... from such a personal level. Two extraordinary talents with such different temperaments, and perfect life and acting partners.

Anyone who admires Tracy and Hepburn will appreciate this book.
Tim Pieraccini
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written in a style very much of its time, it took me a little while to get into this, but once I did, it was an extremely enjoyable read. Less a biography than a series of anecdotes, it certainly does give the reader a very intimate and at times rather moving look into the shared lives of Tracy and Hepburn.
Nancy Loe
Aug 11, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first and dishiest entry in the hagiography of Hepburn and Tracy, written by their friend and colleague, Garson Kanin. Read this and then read the deconstruction of this book in William Mann's new biography of Hepburn Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn. ...more
Dec 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
It was interesting because it was about such famous and great actors. Many little anecdotes from someone who apparently knew them very well. An insight into thier private lives but still very discrete.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biograhpy
The author of this book is as self centered as the topics for his book. This is a collection of conversations which paint all players as vain, hedonistic and pure hollywood tripe. I would have like to have learned how these individuals actually earned the right to draw air! This was awful!
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Garson Kanin was an American actor, director and writer, working both on stage and screen. He was married to Ruth Gordon, with whom he wrote several screenplays. ...more

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“Katharine Hepburn is tall—not as tall as she thinks she is, but tall.” 0 likes
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