One Life: Kate A Centennial Celebration, banner image and link to homepage
Beginings section
Early Hollywood section
Stardom section
Late Career section

This exhibition has been funded in part by the Guenther and Siewchin Yong Sommer Endowment Fund and the Marc Pachter Exhibition Fund.

Amy Henderson, Historian, National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery  

Bethany Bentley
Alexander Cooper
Beverly Cox
Dru Dowdy
Nekisha Durrett
Al Elkins
Todd Gardner
Lizanne Garrett
Molly Grimsley
Sid Hart

Dale Hunt
Claire Kelly
Nello Marconi
John McMahon
Mark Planisek
Jennifer Robertson
Kristin Smith
Tibor Waldner
Caroline Wooden

Video kiosk in the exhibition gallery produced by Hillman & Carr, Inc., Washington, D.C.

Special thanks to
Charles Francis
Pie Friendly
Erik Hanson
Katharine Houghton
Everett Raymond Kinstler
Walter Zvonchenko

The curator wishes to gratefully acknowledge the institutions and individuals who lent objects for the exhibition: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; American Philosophical Society; Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College; Georgetown University Special Collections; Library of Congress; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; and the Estate of Katharine Hepburn.


Curator’s Statement

In the late 1980s I began a conversation with Katharine Hepburn to try to convince her to donate her portrait to the National Portrait Gallery. We talked about this possible acquisition for several years, and each time we met, I found her “as advertised”—feisty, outspoken, accustomed to having her way.

A bit shorter than in her prime, she still had penetrating blue eyes and a quick wit—her humor could be pointed and uproarious. Ego? Yes, very healthy, thank you: at our initial meeting, she reminded me that she had been a movie star from the very beginning of her Hollywood career. At her house in Turtle Bay, she always provided coffee, cookies, and conversation—not to mention a spirit of unabashed one-upmanship.

Once she noticed I was reading a best-selling biography that she was also reading, and she quizzed me about what page I was on. I said something like “page 157,” and she replied, “HA! I’m on 396!” Over her long and legendary life, Hepburn’s iconic status lent itself to various sensibilities. For me, her appeal centered on her determination and independence. She never quit.

                      - Amy Henderson, Historian, National Portrait Gallery



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