n°149/ An Absolute Bliss

December 2014

by Nathalie Azoulai

In response to the question of why she stayed with Spencer Tracy for so long, Katharine Hepburn said, "I honestly don't know. I can only say that I could never have left him ». She would even consider those twenty years an « absolute bliss » however he would never divorce his wife Louise for her and she couldn’t even attend his funeral. How weird. Commentators said she was such an independant girl she would always reject marriage. Others suggested she might have been a lesbian acting like not. And indeed, their match did great both on screens in « battle of the sexes » comedies, and in real life : it did spare her post 1940 career from her « box office poison » thing while Hepburn saved Tracy from his alcohol problem. But just compare their photos to any other couple’s-let’s pick Dietrich and Gabin- and it will strike you : in spite of the showing affectionate and tender love, something is missing. It might be the same reason why producer David O. Selznick refused to offer Hepburn the part of Scarlett O’Hara saying : « I can't see Rhett Butler chasing you for twelve years. »

 Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy

 Marlene Dietrich & Jean Gabin