Cecil Beaton in Deep Focus : The New Yorker

1954 audrey hepburn cecil beation

The Hepburn most associated with Cecil Beaton is Audrey, whose “purity and integrity,” whose “enormous understanding, tact and . . . willingness to learn” he hymned throughout “Cecil Beaton’s ‘Fair Lady’ ” (1964), the published diary of his time in Hollywood designing sets and costumes for the film version of the Lerner and Loewe musical. In “The Unexpurgated Beaton” (Knopf; $35), the diaries that the designer and photographer kept during the nineteen-seventies, his last decade, it’s the other Hepburn who shows up, and the result is, to say the least, a corrective to the more hagiographic recent obits: “She is the egomaniac of all time . . . a raddled, rash-ridden, freckled, burnt, mottled, bleached and wizened piece of decaying matter.”

via Deep Focus : The New Yorker.


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  1. May 10, 2014

    I can hear Kate laughing now!

    • May 10, 2014

      Cackling, and then snorting!

  2. May 10, 2014

    Oh, I loved them both!

  3. May 11, 2014

    I’ve never seen that particular Katherine Hepburn shot. Lovely.

    • May 11, 2014

      Cecil B., for all his griping was a damn good shooter.

  4. May 12, 2014

    Yes, I think the only thing these two ladies had in common, aside from a last name, was their lissomeness.

    • May 12, 2014

      Extremely lissome and very distinct.

  5. May 14, 2014

    I had read his description of Katherine H. before and remembered being a trifle shocked, to say the least. You can see the different Hepburn personalities in each photo – perhaps it explains his different opinions. Then again to depict different personalities via photography, or any art, is also indicative of quite a lot of genius.

    • May 15, 2014

      I thought there was a comment from you that I had missed! Here it is! Quite true of Mr. Beaton, a lot of genius, and possibly he liked more malleable subjects than Katharine H. when she was old enough to know her own mind. I imagine they were probably like the class of the titans working together. Both very opinionated and sure of themselves—and both talented as hell.

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