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Author Topic: Book says Hepburn, Tracy played straight
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The author of an upcoming tell-all book about Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy outs Hollywood's legendary lovers as bisexuals who played the role of heterosexual honeys for the public while taking same-sex lovers in private.

http://thetrack.bostonherald.com/moreTrack/view.bg?articleid=156440

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AliBaba
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Oh, honestly.

I think there's a tough row to hoe in writing a tell-all book; you don't want to write it during the subject's life time to avoid embarrassing them, and afterwards, they're not here to defend themselves.

I also think that Katharine Hepburn was enough of a rebel that had she been gay or bi she would have just said so.

I think, also, that back then it was not uncommon for men to share quarters, or women friends to hold hands and so forth in public. And looking at that today, people might say "oooh, they were soooo gay." But if behavioral standards today are different from what they were back then, it may not be a proper vantage point.

I am reminded of the many post-mortems of Cary Grant saying that he was gay or bi, and one of his wives then being quoted as saying something like "why would I think he was gay when he was so busy nfbsking me?".

Whether they were or not, who care? A, nobody's business but theirs, and B, they made great movies, whatever their sexual identities.

And finally, unless you're likely to actually end up in a bedroom with one of these people, how does it effect you personally?

Ali "teh Gay or not teh Gay" Baba

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:

I think, also, that back then it was not uncommon for men to share quarters, or women friends to hold hands and so forth in public.

Forget back then. Isn't it fairly common for female friends to do that today? At least, it often is among me and my own friends.
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lazerus the duck
The First USA Noel


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quote:
I also think that Katharine Hepburn was enough of a rebel that had she been gay or bi she would have just said so.
I think you vastly underestimate the backlash such an announcement would create.

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All the world's a face, And all the men and women merely acne.

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pob14
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quote:
Originally posted by Artemis:
quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:

I think, also, that back then it was not uncommon for men to share quarters, or women friends to hold hands and so forth in public.

Forget back then. Isn't it fairly common for female friends to do that today? At least, it often is among me and my own friends.
Sorry to break this to you, Artemis, but you are gay. [Big Grin]

Count me in as not caring even a little bit about who Kate and Spence liked to NFBSK.

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Patrick

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Spencer Tracy was married throughout his relationship with Hepburn. Was his wife not enough of a beard?

I agree with Lazerus about the idea of Hepburn coming out -- the backlash would have been crushing. Ingrid Bergman's career was nearly destroyed because she left her husband for another man. Discreet affairs (gay or straight) were one thing, but public acknowledgment was another thing entirely.

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Ganzfeld
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quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:
And finally, unless you're likely to actually end up in a bedroom with one of these people, how does it effect you personally?

I'm guessing you don't read many biographies?
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Top Kat
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Well, if nothing else, the article is rather poorly written. It implies that Spencer Tracy died in 1985, when in fact he died in 1967.
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Malruhn
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Spencer Tracy passed away in 1967.

His PENIS died in 1985. [lol]

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
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quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:
And finally, unless you're likely to actually end up in a bedroom with one of these people, how does it effect you personally?

I'm guessing you don't read many biographies?
How does that answer her question? What does reading biographies have to do with whether the sexuality of actors would affect AliBaba?

Seaboe

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AliBaba
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:
And finally, unless you're likely to actually end up in a bedroom with one of these people, how does it effect you personally?

quote:
I'm guessing you don't read many biographies?
quote:
How does that answer her question? What does reading biographies have to do with whether the sexuality of actors would affect AliBaba?
Thanks, Seaboe, I was wondering that myself. I read some biographies, some autobiographies, some fiction, some non-fiction. I like to think there's a fair mix to my reading tastes.

Unless I'm mistaken, Ganzfeld, your point is that a huge number of people take a salacious interest in the sexuality of famous people, and that for every famous person, there's a million tell-all biographies that purport to provide juicy details of the subject's sex life.

I guess my point in asking the question was why that is? The only sex between consenting adults I'm ever going to be interested in is that which I'm personally engaged in.

Hope that clarifies that part of my post.

And Lainie, I realize fully that the idea of Hepburn announcing she was gay or bi back in the 40s or 50s or even 60s would have created a huge backlash. I meant that at some later point, as she grew older she might have mentioned it. But you're right, of course. There's even still, to this day, enough narrow-minded people that they boycott restaurants because of a rainbow flag, for crissakes. So yeah, you're right. Unfortunately. (I don't mean it's unfortunate that you're right, but that there was and continues to be a stigma attached to this. I really need to work on syntax. [Wink] )

Ali "I'm going to write an unauthorized autobiography" Baba

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:
Originally posted by AliBaba:
Unless I'm mistaken, Ganzfeld, your point is that a huge number of people take a salacious interest in the sexuality of famous people, and that for every famous person, there's a million tell-all biographies that purport to provide juicy details of the subject's sex life.

No, sorry I should have written my point out more specifically. That is, most of what you would read in a biography is of no particular use to the person reading the biography, whether it be about sex or profession, or other matters. It seems obvious to me, for example, that if I read a book about Churchill it's not because I have an interest in entering British politics.

So why do people read stuff that has no apparent bearing on their own lives? I don't think it's a "salacious interest" in the "juicy details" so much as trying to understand what it means to be a human on this planet, which includes sexuality, among other things. So I don't consider it any different than wanting to know why Andy Kaufman was obsessed with wrestling, or why Richard Feynman wrote his wife in code, or why John Nash tried to defect to the Soviet Union, even though these activities have nothing in particular to do with my own life.

So, what I meant to say is that nearly everything in a (good) biography is of a personal nature and sexuality is certainly something nearly everyone confronts in life.

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AliBaba
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Huh. Lot of food for thought there, Ganzfeld - thanks for clarifying. I hadn't looked at it that way before.

When I read a biography, I am interested in the details of a person's life, whether or not I'm considering going into that profession. I guess I always just thought that the sex was the least important detail of a person's life.

For example - I read Richard Chamberlain's autobiography, "Shattered Love". And while he does talk about his sexuality and the importance of that on his life, for instance, the fact that his father disowned him for it, he doesn't go into nitty gritty detail about his sex life. Doesn't make the book less informative about who he is as a person.

So while an individual's sexuality might be important or informative about who they are, I don't need the details of every specific act, how many times, what positions, etc. - up to and including whether it was with a member of the opposite or the same sex.

I guess, perhaps, it's also the difference between an autobiography and a biography. Someone discussing their own sexuality and how it effects them is one thing. A third party who never met the person is often just speculating.

And as often as not, the truth is less important than selling lots of copies - so the subject of their sexuality becomes even less essential, if you follow me. When the biographer's motivation in speculating on a person's sex life is so questionable, it makes you question everything you're reading, and therefore distances the reader from the subject, rather than bringing a closer understanding, I think.

Hope I'm making sense with this.

It's late, I'm tired.

AliBaba

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erwins
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quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:So while an individual's sexuality might be important or informative about who they are, I don't need the details of every specific act, how many times, what positions, etc. - up to and including whether it was with a member of the opposite or the same sex.
I wouldn't necessarily want to know the details of sex acts if I'm reading a biography, but I do think that a person's sexual identity is just that -- part of their identity. And it is certainly relevant to who someone is, and how they got that way, to know that they have had to lead a double life, not have their relationships acknowledged, etc.

It makes me have even more respect for Hepburn to know that she was as open as the OP implies she was. Considering that it would have destroyed her career if it became truly public knowledge, and I'm sure people made sure she knew that, it would be pretty courageous to be true to yourself.

erwins

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by pob14:
Sorry to break this to you, Artemis, but you are gay. [Big Grin]

Count me in as not caring even a little bit about who Kate and Spence liked to NFBSK.

Damn. Should've known I couldn't have escaped four years of an all women's school without catching...TEH GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!1111
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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by AliBaba:
So while an individual's sexuality might be important or informative about who they are, I don't need the details of every specific act, how many times, what positions, etc. - up to and including whether it was with a member of the opposite or the same sex.

[...]
Hope I'm making sense with this.

Yeah, it makes sense and I can see where you're coming from. When I'm talking to a friend, I don't really like to hear all the details and there's certainly a lot I prefer left out of biographies (position, etc. is of no great interest to me!). But it seems that the gender of the other people involved is an important detail, even if we want to accept all kinds of relationships.

Two examples come to mind: One is race in biography. These days it might not seem like such an important detail but I can't imagine, for example, Malcolm X's biography trying to avoid the topic. (Alex Haley, who he asked to write it, writes in the intro about how it inspired him to consider his own race and later to write Roots.) Like sexuality, race can be an important part of someone's life, even if we don't want it to make a big difference in our own.

The other example is John Nash, who I mentioned above. A lot of people criticized the movie for leaving out his homosexual encounters, saying that the movie portrayed him as a straight man. Well, the movie left out just about everything else and also made up a bunch of crap to put in the place of truth so that's no surprise to me. On the other hand, in this case, I didn't really mind that particular omission. A movie, after all, is only so long and, frankly, I didn't want to see every relationship on the screen. (They could have left the phony relationships out, though.) The author of the book (if I recall correctly) said, while she included what she knew of the encounters in the book, she didn't think the movie should have portrayed him as a homosexual or bisexual because she thought he was basically straight. I can see both sides but I'm glad she put all the details in the book because it gave him a depth of character. He wasn't just the crazy mathematician; he had ordinary problems too.

So, anyway, I agree that I don't need to know all the details but I would like to know something about what kind of conflicts there may have been. (A story without conflict isn't much of a story, after all.) It does bring up an important question: How much detail is too much detail in a biography?

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TrishDaDish
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I want a biography about me. I'd probably have a better love life in it. Doubly so if a movie came out!

Trish "But I'm not sure if I'd be raging straight or gay in it" DaDish

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Top Kat
Deck the Malls


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I don't know or care whether Hepburn was bi, but I do think she had a sexual relationship with Tracy.

My understanding is that she refused to discuss the relationship until Tracy's wife was dead. If it was just a cover, wouldn't she want to be very public about it? And if it weren't true, why would she start talking about it when Tracy was long dead and she was essentially retired? There was no need to protect their careers any more.

I saw a clip of her reading a seemingly very heartfelt poem/letter addressed to Tracy (after his death). Yes, she could have been acting. But, again, why bother?

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Chocklit
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La Hepburn was annoying enough without being gay.

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"Jesus must be spinning in his grave." - Barney Gumble

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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
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You're saying that Hepburn's being gay would somehow have added to her annoyingness quotient?

In other news, I like this quote from Ganzfeld:
quote:
...trying to understand what it means to be a human on this planet, which includes sexuality, among other things.
This has made me want to read more biographies [Smile]

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Christie
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quote:
Originally posted by Top Kat:
I don't know or care whether Hepburn was bi, but I do think she had a sexual relationship with Tracy.

My understanding is that she refused to discuss the relationship until Tracy's wife was dead. If it was just a cover, wouldn't she want to be very public about it? And if it weren't true, why would she start talking about it when Tracy was long dead and she was essentially retired? There was no need to protect their careers any more.

I saw a clip of her reading a seemingly very heartfelt poem/letter addressed to Tracy (after his death). Yes, she could have been acting. But, again, why bother?

And if their relationship was truly just a cover why did Tracey leave his wife (surely the ultimate cover) and why didn't Hepburn marry or maintain a relationship with any other man either before or after Tracey died? If their whole romance was a big sham it seems like they (or their publicists) would have been able to cook up something better.

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Rivkah Chaya
I Saw Three Shipments


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Quote:
Ingrid Bergman's career was nearly destroyed because she left her husband for another man.
/Quote

Actually, Ingrid Bergman had an affair with, and got pregnant by, another man while still married to her first husband. In all fairness, though, this probably wouldn't be such a big deal today-- but it was more than just a divorce and remarriage.

I do agree with the person who noted that Hepburn was outspoken and rebellious, and even if she had kept homosexuality or bisexuality a secret during her career, she probably would have come out later-- as she did with her atheism. It may not seem like a big deal now, bu back in the seventies, when she loudly proclaimed her lack of faith in a god, she really got a lot of crap for it. Didn't shut her up about it, though.

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Republican
I Saw Three Shipments


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I know that she played a teacher accused of being lesbian in a film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054743/

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candycane from strangers
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Wrong Hepburn, Republican.

ETA: out of context this statement is very amusing to me.

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A: "You contributed to the deliquency of a minor in drag!"
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Lainie
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quote:
Originally posted by Rivkah Chaya:
Quote:
Ingrid Bergman's career was nearly destroyed because she left her husband for another man.
/Quote

Actually, Ingrid Bergman had an affair with, and got pregnant by, another man while still married to her first husband. In all fairness, though, this probably wouldn't be such a big deal today-- but it was more than just a divorce and remarriage.

Actually, I remembered the details, but although my account was incomplete, it was hardly inaccurate.

It's interesting to me that people would object more to adultery that resulted in pregnancy. Is it less immoral to screw around on your spouse if you use effective birth control, or if either you or your cheating partner is infertile? Would it have been less immoral if she stayed with her husband and passed the kid off as his? Both ideas are quite appalling to me. Or were people okay with the adultery as long it was discreet?

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Ink Rose
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I don't know Lainie, but maybe it was like gays in Victorian times. Technically illegal, but no one cared as long as you were discrete and kept most people from finding out. Since your reputation was everything, it wouldn't pay for a family to make a big fuss.

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