Katharine Hepburn died in 2003, four years shy of what would have been her 100th birthday. But if she missed the milestone, the rest of us can now celebrate her centenary, with the cleverly enlightening How to Hepburn: Lessons on Living from Kate the Great. Author-essayist Karen Karbo, who has written novels for both adults and middle-schoolers (kids might know her Minerva Clark mysteries), and nonfiction titles including the stirring The Stuff of Life: A Daughter's Memoir, infuses biographical and historical data, film trivia and contemporary acumen into a lively homage that underscores why Hepburn's name should be a verb.
Hepburn certainly personified the value of hard work and perseverance. The woman with the now-legendary cheekbones, who won four Best Actress Oscars, was once savaged by critics, deemed box office poison and assailed for her unique looks. Success-hungry types, who want what they want now, should take note. Karbo also finds Hepburn-inspired guidelines in topics including fashion (the first woman to wear pants, Hepburn dressed for comfort), diet (she ate five different veggies for dinner), athletics (long before health clubs, Hep was a daily swimmer and avid golfer) and relationship decorum. As in: Keep your private life private (Ë† la Hepburn and her great love, Spencer Tracy).
In this, the girls-gone-wild era replete with terminology such as booty-licious, hottie and smokin' it bears reminding that Hepburn's favorite adjective for herself was fascinating. Which helps explain why, a century after her birth, she still enthralls, as actress, role model and book subject.