Mr. Lester’s great aunt Hazel, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy and gossip…

katharine hepburnThe exquisitely patrician Connecticut lady pictured above had quite a career – and split her time between the East Coast and the West. Very busy. I don’t know that she really cooked more than brownies and put together hot fudge sundaes – but she did eat and appreciate food.

The people pictured below on the left are the Mister’s father and mother (expecting the Mister’s eldest brother), an uncle I don’t believe he’s ever met, and on the far right is his great-aunt Hazel. She was employed by Ms. Hepburn, and some other Beverly Hills/ Bel Air kind of people to run their kitchens. Aunt Hazel was a professional cook. She was the one who Spencer Tracy would seek out — then park himself at her kitchen table — to hear all the inside scoop from all the people who worked for all the people he hung out with, so to speak. Mr. Tracy loved to gossip.

Here’s where this blog gets to be a funny thing. I too love to gossip – and I don’t. Oh, conflicted emotions. They’re so complex.

On many levels gossip is entertaining and leveling and in a funny way connecting – and on another it is debasing, dehumanizing, and sometimes depraved… in my opinion. I once heard Michael Stipe being interviewed (I’m paraphrasing because my memory is a perimenopausal morass) and he said something like: nobody’s got a RIGHT to know what I do with my penis, UNLESS they’re sitting in my lap.

Kudos to Mr. Stipe.




  1. Heather in Arles

    I don’t gossip either. I never have. It reminds me of a moment when I was in second grade–one of the other kids leaned back to far in his chair and it slammed back to the floor. All of the other kids were hysterical with laughter, some pointing, even though that poor boy was knocked unconscious for a bit and severely shaken. Funny, the things that mark you. So for me, gossip is like that pointing…

    • Ms. Heather! This is a little off topic, but, Mr. Kaplan has written us a serialized story that’s a slipstream glittering Hollywood wonder — if you had a choice, would you read it straight through over the course of a week, or every other day?

      • Heather in Arles

        Oooh. Thank you for asking my opinion–I swear that there are years that go by in France without anyone asking my opinion on anything save for my honey! I do believe that I would choose every other day as I tend to like to let his wonderful writing “sink in” so to speak. But if it is a page-ripper…ah! Then you will know best!

      • Oh! It’s a quandary!
        It’s a ripping yarn and a page turner – I might have to do it over the course of a week. All I know right now is the first part of “Alchemy” goes up tomorrow…

  2. George Kaplan

    You perfectly capture the ambivalence I feel gossip wise: I want to know but DON’T, am most assuredly uninterested in some things but fascinated by others.
    (I had , for instance, no interest what Mr Stipe did with his member, I couldn’t care less if he treated it like a balloon animal!)
    Oh, what’s that in your comment to Heather?! *George is blushing and delighted* 🙂

  3. George Kaplan

    Yep, rumor has it! I LOATHE reality tv, if you told me Satan vomited it up to amuse himself, I’d believe it. I also detest the tabloidization of things. Worse tho’ are those who complain about tabloid news while also using it to publicize themselves when it suits! Yikes, *ranting*… 🙂

  4. Yes she is exquisitely patrician I would agree.I have quite the same problem my self.I wont however burden you with my problems.

    On a more serious note I always thought that Deborah Kerr had a wonderful patrician quality to her beauty that is evident in many pictures.Such dignity seems to have gone out of fashion nowdays for something a lot cheaper in my opinion.

    I know what you mean about gossip.It can be very interesting or low and mean and of the lowest quality.Most of the celebrity type publications that I have glimpsed in the UK seem be examples of that salacious low quality type of gossip either about people you have not heard of, or people you have and who are either dull or unpleasant{or possibly both}and in whom you have not a microsecond of interest.

    • A facility for creating desserts is nothing to scoff at 😉
      Deborah Kerr seemed a fairy princess to me when I saw “The King and I” on television — I think I was ten or eleven.
      The only British tabloid we see here with any frequency is “Hello” and it’s all about a certain young lady about to have a baby.
      Much more prevalent are the internet sites, but I, like you – usually have no idea who anybody is!

  5. Let hear it for higher quality gossip.I suggest that there be formed a- Gossip Quality Monitoring Service-who will strive to create an atmosphere in which only high quiality gossip be created by the media.They are of course to have exacting standards.

  6. You are right George- Reality TV-is in fact Satans Vomit.It was created by him to destroy the human brain and make it easier for him to take over planet Earth.Presently he has been pretty successsful.

    Someone once told that they had learnt a lot about human psychology by watching Big Brother.I was lost for words.

  7. George rant away,rant away.They like the publicity when it goes their way and not when it does not.Good breast/Bad breast.When it nurtures their image of themselves its wonderful,when it does not its poison and they complain.Boo Hoo.

  8. I’m laughing. High quality gossip and Satan’s vomit! Oh my! Aren’t we funny? I’m pretty sure we’re all on the same page with this. I, for one, am both repelled and attracted to the gossip around me.
    ….Oh for heaven sake, I watch reality TV! Yes, there it is. Not all, just the high quality show’s. LOL!!!
    Gossip between friends and acquaintances, I think, is far worse. That gossip involves betrayal and destroys trust. Anyhoo… It’s certainly hard to avoid, right? It’s also one thing to hear it and quite another thing to spread it or stand in judgement of others during their trials.
    Okay. I think I’m done here. 😀

    • Did I ever tell you…? Many, many, years ago I had a friend visiting from NYC and she told me that Woody Allen was having an affair with his adopted daughter — and I laid into her, something about destructive rumors, and completely unbelievable, vile, stories — and how she wasn’t to repeat that to anyone. And, the following day it hit the papers, and the rest…
      Hey! Come back! 😉

    • A Gripping Life-Yes I totally agree. Gossip between friends and aquaintances is so negative.I would add that it is very destructive at every level and awful for example at work.I often hear it,but never spread it.I generally think that there is something very wrong between the ears of those who compulsively tittle tattle.Perhaps a need to feel virtuous and deflect attention away from their often considerable shortcomings that manifest strangely at every level at which they criticize others.

      • That’s exactly it. Some people need to feel virtuous and I guess dragging other people through the mud is one way to accomplish that, albeit a round about way. I think putting the microscope to other people’s lives does deflect from our own shortcomings, and we all have them. Maybe it also gives us a chance to see the reaction of others, to test out how our friends and associates feel about ‘badness’ and poor choices. Above anything, though, I think it’s standing in judgement that ends up being so ugly.

      • Vicke,thats because the aliens are running out of people to abduct that are suitable-you know how it is-you just cannot get the help these days.Also their agreement from the US Government is soon to end.They will be homeless from Dulse Base later this year.Hands up anyone with an underground facility who can do them a good B and B

      • I don’t think I’d have believed the Woody Allen gossip if I hadn’t seen it play out in the news. It was challenging on many levels. On the one hand you had all these intellectuals and die hard fans shrugging their shoulders, siding with him because of his artistry and brilliance. The Emperor’s New Clothes, and all that… I think he likes to say “The heart wants what the heart wants.” On the other side you had people like me- looking at the absolute betrayal and emotional pain he had caused. (A child of divorce) There’s nothing civilized, high brow or sophisticated about the choices he made. What he did was arrogant, narcissistic and base. (In my opinion) For me, watching this play out and seeing the division in the reactions of people was fascinating. It felt like a great social experiment, in a way. I was living in New York at the time — it was EVERYWHERE and everyone had an opinion. It was interesting to say the least.

  9. Vickie,if you have missed our celebrity type magazines you have been truly blessed.A few seconds with one of them and I can feel my brain decomposing whilst yet alive.I rarely know who the people are,although evidently they are famous for something.If you dig a millimetre it usually appears that they are famous for being extremely stupid and someone out there loves them.

    As for those that love them I have found that there is no purpose in asking why this or that temporary celebrity is interesting to them, as you will get no sensible reply.In fact asking can actually provoke real hostility.

    As for the themes in our lovely publications they are frequently.My new partner/old partner,my new divorce,my new home,my TV makeover,my new album/TV program, exercise DVD,baby,boob job.

    Headlines might be- J loves his new abs,C loves her new boobs.J and C love their new home etc etc.Ah if abs and boobs were brains these people would be pure genius.

  10. beautycalyptique

    gossip is born out of a social thing (I’ve been told; I must be not that social after all) – people build groups by opposing themselves to “the others”. it’s also social control to keep the herds at foot (“look what she’s wearing!”, “look who he’s dating!”). but today it’s only an ugly, mass-produced, brain-dumbing one-day-gimmick.
    so I believe while mr. tracy enjoyed gossip to be au courant (legit), tabloids enjoy selling copies and starlets enjoy being written about (yikes).

    speaking of tabloids, have any of the present commenters seen amanda palmer’s delicious “dear daily mail” song?
    if not, please this way:

    • Amanda Palmer — simply darling, thank you for that! Love that sly British wit.
      I have a confession to make, now when presented with gossip about who’s doing what with whom, my standard response is, “Isn’t that nice, dear?” One of the joys of getting older 😉

      • beautycalyptique

        american wit in this case. amanda is from NYC 😉

        love that reply. I’m normally mimicking their sentence and telling them tech news in the same way. if I see big eyes, I say, why, I thought we exchanged information useless for the opponent here.
        but to be honest, ppl have learned to spare me with that who-with-whom-and-where

  11. Dearest V
    Good natured gossiping about friends is a casual form of kindness and concern.
    The pernicious semi-sanctified schadenfreude that passes for journalism around the world is the hateful practice of whipping up hate.
    Or so it seems to this rather private fellow.
    Oh and it gets in the way… I want artists to be asked about their work not their wardrobe and sexual wherewithalls.
    I guess The Dandy’s a little old fashioned that way.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  12. Gosh V
    You will ask such fascinating questions… The Dandy almost forgot to mention how beautiful Kate is on that covered.
    Well, omission corrected.
    Aqualine, not just the nose, but the look altogether.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • It’s a beat up old copy of LIFE we had lying around, but the image shines through – I kinda like the degraded quality of the paper with all its stains and how her beauty shines through…

      • Dearest V
        Like a very beautiful Madonna shining through centuries of incense and candlewax accretions on an Italian altarpiece.
        Surely Katherine too is an object worthy of veneration.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  13. Pingback: Happy Birthday Katharine Hepburn | waldina

  14. Heather in Arles

    See what I mean about reposts? I enjoyed rereading all of the comments here even more than the first time!

  15. As for gossip – I love it as long as it’s about celebrities. I never, ever repeat anything that anyone tells me to anyone else (which is why people constantly tell me the most appalling personal information, I suppose). The stuff you read about celebrities on websites and in magazines is most likely 90% untrue anyway, so I don’t feel too badly getting a vicarious thrill out of it.

    As for Mr. Stipe – I agree with his opinion, but honestly I could happily go the rest of my life without thinking about his penis or where it’s been. I’ve actually lived my whole life – up until this moment – doing just that, and unfortunately was unable to continue the run of luck.

  16. I think gossip has gone overboard. The founding fathers never envisioned freedom of the press to extend to telephoto lenses and harassment. At the same time, no one forced them to try and attain celebrity. Personally, I don’t read tabloids, but I enjoy the occasional well researched fact that challenges our social norms. This could be in who’s in or out of the closet, to who is having an affair because the Pope doesn’t condone divorce, a la Spencer Tracy (those it’s a bit more complex).

    • I think you’re right! And you’ve got me thinking, when the founding father’s were alive it took three to four months for news to travel from the US to Europe, now it takes a second. No time for research, or context. Welcome to Beguiling, C! I’m glad you’re here.

      • You know, I was reading one of the collection of writings from Ben Franklin and he clearly states that even then the press was doing things that he and the other founders did not intend. They would definitely freak out if they saw what the paparazzi does these days.

        c u around Beguiling, Vickie 😉

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