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Turner Classic Movies Remembers Katharine Hepburn By Showing Several Of Her Films This Week

May 10th, 2007 8:33am EDT
Katharine HepburnLOS ANGELES (AP) - Over her long and storied career, which included 12 Academy Award nominations and a record four wins for best actress, Katharine Hepburn personified a peculiarly American, dignified grit.

And with her 100th birthday approaching Saturday, Turner Classic Movies is remembering Hepburn, who died in June 2003 at 96, by showing several of her films this week - from her 1932 debut, A Bill of Divorcement, to 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, which earned her the second of her Oscars.

Robert Osborne, the channel's host, believes her appeal came from ''her class and her oddity and her uniqueness. She was a wonderful role model for women, being independent, being her own person. She was one of those like Bette Davis, like Barbara Stanwyck - she gave license to women to be independent. I think that's one of the great things she did.

''That was a different era then,'' he added. ''Even common farm women wanted to be classy. Today everyone wants to be unclassy - people show up in restaurants in major cities looking like hell. In those days, people came to New York and they brought their best clothes and they dressed up and went out. It's so alien to the way they feel today. People loved Hepburn because she was so classy, she was somebody to aspire to.''

Despite the laurels and admiration Hepburn received as her career progressed, she wasn't always known for the quality of her acting. She was, after all, the inspiration for the phrase ''box-office poison,'' which a theater chain owner dubbed her after a series of flops in the mid-1930s.

''She was a great personality - I think she was a really good actress but a great personality,'' Osborne said. ''She became a star because of her personality and also because of her daring to be different, doing it by her own rules. I think she made up her mind she was going to be a success and forced it on all of us.''

Osborne mentioned the June 2004 auction of Hepburn's personal items in New York - things she kept from long ago because she knew she would be important someday and that they'd be worth something.

''It is (arrogance) but not misplaced arrogance,'' he said.

By CHRISTY LEMIRE AP Movie Writer

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