“Katharine Hepburn creates a bad first impression.” Cecil Beaton

“Her personality is so forceful that she appears to be ill-mannered and high-handed, and, for this, she is apt to be unpopular. But her honest frankness cannot be hidden and her intensity and extreme youthfulness are utterly disarming.”


“Her heroines are Bernhardt, Duse, and Garbo; she lives for acting, adores being photographed, and photographs so strikingly that her real self is only a shadow of her photographs.”

Cecil Beaton, 1937


  1. rschulenberg

    Beaton in 1937?
    While designing “COCO” he was much less charitable and/or diplomatic. In his unexpurgated diary he expresses his true feelings about her:
    December, 1969: “She is the egomaniac of all time and her whole life is devised to receive the standing ovation that she has had at the end of her great personality performance…….Her performance is just one long series of personal mannerisms…….in life her appearance is appalling, a raddled, rash-ridden, freckled, burnt, mottled, bleached and wizened piece of decaying matter. It is unbelievable that she can still be exhibited in public…….she is a rotten, ingrained viper…….She is a dried up boot. Completely lacking in feminine grace, in manners…….She lives like a miser…and thinks only of herself day and night……I hope I never have to see her again.”

    I left out his comments on her characterization of Chanel and her professionalism and gee, I wonder what he really thought of her when he wasn’t being so charitable and diplomatic!

  2. He was very outspoken, I wonder if that diary was published while he was still alive?

    Here’s something I thought you would get a charge out of; his thoughts about Los Angeles circa 1963 while filming “My Fair Lady.” He’s talking about an actress/idol of his youth, Gladys Cooper, who played Mrs. Higgins:

    “During the filming of My Fair Lady, I got to know the way she really liked to live, almost out of doors, with the birds flying through the doors. She lived quite alone and was unafraid of being attacked by the loathsome marauders around Los Angeles.”

    You know…1963 LA…the wild-wild west… hm… 😉 .

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