Gore Vidal Confirms That Katharine Hepburn Was A Very Slutty Lesbian

Out politico Gore Vidal is vouching for his buddy Scotty Bowers, who claims that he set Katharine Hepburn up “with over 150 different women” in his book Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of Stars.

According to Page Six, Vidal flew in to L.A. expressly for the book’s launch party. He wanted to assure attendees that Bowers is totally telling the truth. In a speech, he told partygoers he’s never caught Bowers in a lie in the 60-plus years he’s known him, joking that L.A. is a town “where you can meet 1,000 liars a day.”

We’d say that never catching someone in a lie is a little different than saying someone has never told a lie, but hey—good enough for us.

So that settles it: Katharine Hepburn was a very sexually active lesbian. Case closed!

Photo via Kate Gabrielle

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  • kevininbuffalo

    What about Spencer Tracey?

  • divkid

    katherine hepburn: enemies are so stimulating.
    one of us and still with us in spirit.

  • scooge

    If it weren’t for Gore Vidal’s presence/endorsement, this book would never have been published. Another thing we have to thank him for!!!

  • Mike in Asheville

    These rumors have been around for quite a few decades including a biography by David Porter who claimed Hepburn had affairs with Judy Garland and Greta Garbo, among many other A-Listers [real A List, not the pretend ones we have today].

    Yawn. Haven’t seen a single claimed lover acknowledge any affair. And Gore Vidal’s very own history about himself and his sexual identity just adds confusion. I guess he can distinguish whether others are truthful don’t venture into his own changing story about himself.

    Well, as they say, the dead can neither confirm or deny anything. Whether Hepburn dallied with the ladies or not, she was amazing opposite Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and many others. 4 Oscars!

  • divkid

    katherine hepburn: “enemies are so stimulating.”
    one of us and still with us in spirit.

    oh, ok… an edit for the sake of any thicko.

  • Franco

    Who cares? I love her still.

  • Chuck

    What does Cynthia McFadden have to say about all this?

  • divkid

    @Mike in Asheville:
    yeah, she was the mutts nuts.

    a progressive, a feminist and i think even an atheist. truly a women ahead of her time.

    i love her patrician hauteur and i can’t think of anyone else who could pull that off and still be regarded with such warm affection; probably because she undercut it with a real humanity, sly wit and charm. though you wouldn’t want to cross her!

  • pierre

    @Chuck: HA! Cynthia is a big lesbian. I don’t know if she has publicly come out, but she definitely is one. There were rumors about her and Katharine Hepburn, but who knows if that was true. Cynthia and Liz Smith are/were lovers.

  • SteveC

    Oh you privileged, cisgender, gay white males!

    Hepburn was a transman.

    Let’s glitterbomb Dan Savage in response to this transphobic article.

  • Price Waterhouse

    @pierre: well she was given an armoire or something by KH, so that must confirm it.

  • dvlaries

    >>Well, as they say, the dead can neither confirm or deny anything.<<

    More importantly, they can't sue. Imagine the ‘bravery’ of the future Gore Vidals someday when Tom Cruise croaks.

  • divkid

    as wonderful as she was i challenge anyone bring to mind a single memorable quote from any of her films.

    *enter david ehrenstein to wipe the floor with my ass!*

    not that memorable lines are necessarily a reliable metric of artistic value as a survey of the work of such luminaries as schwarzenegger and stallone will attest.

  • divkid


    yo dude forgive my dumb ass but >italics< is that some ninja-magic-shit goin on there? i want italics in *my* life. how?

  • Cam

    @kevininbuffalo: said…

    “What about Spencer Tracey?”

    Think about what the press was like back in those days. They hid affairs, the studios protected their big stars and wouldn’t let anything like that slip out. Yet for some reason, even though Spencer Tracy was married, and Hepburn and he were both big stars…gee, somehow the studio allows the stories to get written that they are in love etc….

    They only let stories like that out if there was something bigger they wanted to hide. The same way that they would give information about a smaller star being gay to prevent a story being written about a big star being gay.

  • Chuck

    @pierre: Yeah. I would not have believed Kate was a lesbian because she really seemed to love Spencer Tracy. But when she left her estate to Cynthia, in addition to all the other stuff, I thought there may be something to it. I guess we’ll never really know. I love Kate either way.

  • divkid

    really interesting point. i’m not really up to snuff on the studio’s machinations, but that really does make sense. thanks.

  • R.A.

    “The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower, suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day and now I place them here in memory of something that has died..”
    – “Stage Door,” 1937

     Do you seriously need quotes from Tennessee Williams’s “Glass Menagerie.” and “Suddenly Last Summer,” Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Maxwell Anderson’s “Mary, Queen of Scots,” or Eurpedes “Trojan Women?”

    She was not my favorite actress, but my god, what a career!

  • Chuck

    @divkid: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” “I dunno, Somebody.” “There’ll be pork in the treetops come morning.” “Oh dear, whatever will we do with mother.” “I’d hang you from the nipples, but you’d shock the children.” “It isn’t that I don’t want to know you Hillary, although I don’t.” “What would you have me do. Give out? Give up? Give in?” “Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It’s 1183 and we’re barbarians!” “You’re my night in shining armor.” “You’re going to get back on that horse and I’m going to be right behind you, holding on tight and away we’re going to go, go, go!”

  • UpChuck

    Her head shook from all the salad tossing motions she made over the years.

  • divkid

    yeah, but…

    i bet you had to look it up.

    regardless, it’s not up there with bette davis’ greatest hits and not nearly so easily brought to mind.

    it wasn’t a criticism of her as bone fide great. i just got to wondering why it is some stars’ film quotes have gained wider currency among the general public than other stars of equal stature. like, think of mae west, wc fields, and too many others to mention. i can only remember a couple from audrey — one in particular i wheel into service as often as i can: ‘Eeow, arrmah gud guuurl, I yam’ (try it out at any social occasion. it never fails).

    i think i’ve concluded it’s more exaggerated comic or grotesque characters we remember – but, then didn’t she famously do screwball comedy… so no, it can’t be that…but i have to go now THE BELLS…THE BELLS!

    hasta la vista baby.

  • divkid

    listen, i’ve got the memory of a gnat so it’s hardly surprising that i haven’t heard any of these excepting “look who’s coming to dinner” and only because it’s in the title. for all i know these maybe the very soul of wit and brevity and doubtless elegant to boot but they ain’t, to borrow a phrase, “earworms”. they’re not memorable *enough*.

    i haven’t seen a single mae west film and not nearly enough bette davis films even to merit my gay permit but i still know most of the quotes and i’m under 40 and my friends who are even younger than me know many of them too.

    …have to go now it’s mother she’s calling me up to the big house …she isn’t quite herself today.

  • divkid

    shit, i really don’t want to come off as some movie queen.

    i is gonna have to get my gansta on now. init. u get me, bitches! peace out.

  • Chuck

    @divkid: Haha. I’m under 40 too. I think she was more of the Meryl Streep Great Actress of her time than known for any one liner. Most of those are from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, On Golden Pond, and The Lion In Winter. It was fun remembering and posting them. Peace.

  • John

    “Katharine Hepburn was a very sexually active lesbian.” Does one hundred fifty lovers over a 49-year period really constitute “very sexually active”?

  • No. 1

    @John: For a lesbian it does.

  • Doug

    What a great actress she was

  • divkid

    “Does one hundred fifty lovers over a 49-year period really constitute “very sexually active”? ”

    yes, you whore!
    well really!

  • Geri

    Queerty obviously gets off on calling bisexual women “lesbians” just like straight men do.

    Katherine Hepburn was bisexual, and so is Gore Vidal. Spencer Tracy is rumoured to have bisexual too. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he was because bisexual men and women are often attracted to each other and enjoy having non-heteronormative queer sex with each other.

  • divkid

    @R.A.:“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower, suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day and now I place them here in memory of something that has died..”

    i’ve started using that phrase everywhere even at supermarket this morning where it received a strange response from the slack jawed checkout assistant. you do realise this all your fault, don’t you?

  • divkid

    *is* there a property of “bisexualness” in a bisexual man that could attract a bisexual woman? that is, other than the stark fact of him merely being a man. this is not a critique of your theory, just me pondering aloud; such is the amorphous nature of these concepts it’s hard to get your bearings.

  • Brand

    What a secret, huh, the odds that not one of those 150 women would ever turn out to be the kind of gal who’d say a word. Meanwhile the one gay guy who knew about it decided to write a fucking book.

    But yes, John, accepting the premise, averaging more than three new lovers a year every year for half a century is “very sexually active”, even before you consider we’re talking a woman of that era. Then when you consider that he suggests this began in 1949 and she spent most of her time from 1950 to 1963 doing theater in New York, Connecticut, Australia, and a national tour, and filming over a half a dozen films in Europe, it’s even more impressive. Most of it would have had to come in a couple months in 1949, then a few months during the filming of “Adam’s Rib” in early 1952, and then in a period of a few years during the mid-1960s when she was by all accounts devoted to Spencer Tracy and by biological probability going through menopause. Then she’s off to globe-trot again for a few years, and back to Broadway, where incidentally she had a Manhattan townhouse and a Connecticut home. Imagine all the two-bit lesbian hookers she must’ve had there.

    Do I think Katharine Hepburn might have had a few encounters with women over the years? Possible. Do I think Katharine Hepburn had intense ambition, worked like crazy on every aspect of everything she did, and could have sublimated her sexuality—gay or straight—during much of her life? It’s been known to happen. Does Katharine Hepburn honestly strike me as the kind of person who would deign to sleep with every willing woman she could pay a gas station attendant to send up to her room, and by extension like the kind of person who couldn’t attract her own dates of either sex or meet people through friends? No, and I’m surprised that anybody who knows her would buy a word of this.

    Ah, and that brings us back to the book. Would anybody give a moment’s attention to a recycling of the same old stories about George Cukor’s parties and Tyrone Power or Cary Grant, fleshed out with some fresh material on Orry-Kelly? No. If you’re trying to sell a book, you’ve got to be willing to do more than publish the X-rated details to go with those old chestnuts, you need some spectacular statements about big names that nobody’s really heard before and you’ve got to create some Zelig-like character to pull it all together so you can tell it from a first-person point of view. And it doesn’t matter if any of it is true, just drag the name of everybody anyone ever opined might be gay into the familiar stuff. They figure anybody who cares is too old to have their perspective taken seriously…guess they didn’t bank on people shrugging it off with “Katharine Hepburn, I can’t quite place her…what catchphrases was she known for”? Echoes of Lucy to Schroeder: “Beethoven—he wasn’t on a bubblegum card, was he? I’m just saying, how famous could he be if he wasn’t on a bubblegum card?”

    “Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It’s 2012 and we’re barbarians!”

  • divkid

    @Brand: i am suitably chastened, and a very pleasurable experience it was too — i could read you all day.

  • jadis noir

    David, Katharine and Judy starred together in Adam’s Rib. I vaguely remember something about Kate taking a step back in this one to put the spotlight on Judy.

  • David Ehrenstein

    @jadis noir: Well that’s myth. The scene in question was designed entirely for Judy from the start. it’s her major intorductory scene — Hepburn merely feeds her lines.

  • JeffR

    @David Ehrenstein: Thank you for the link. Fascinating, fun, great writing, amazing scholarship. You never cease to amaze with your knowledge! Best, JeffR

  • Danny Ross

    I don’t think Spencer Tracey was a Lesbian. And it is hard to believe that, if Katherine Hepburn was a Lesbian, she would need any help finding a partner.

  • Drew

    @Brand actually the author of the book is bisexual and he married a woman.

    Gore is also bisexual but he’s been out about this for decades.

  • R.A.

    Gore Vidal is even less bisexual than Cynthia Nixon.

    A still brilliant old man but one you can’t trust on matters of human sexuality,
    Vidal’s “bisexuality” is purely political – he insists that everyone is bisexual.

    When he goes to glory, don’t expect any women to be coming out of his closet.

    Note to divkid: Don’t get yourself arrested!

  • Geri

    @R.A.: Cynthia Nixon is clearly bisexual so you’re obviously totally clueless.

  • Geri

    @divkid: “*is* there a property of “bisexualness” in a bisexual man that could attract a bisexual woman? that is, other than the stark fact of him merely being a man. this is not a critique of your theory, just me pondering aloud; such is the amorphous nature of these concepts it’s hard to get your bearings.”

    When it comes to men some queer women definitely have a preference for queer men and vice versa. It’s something that dawned on many years ago when I was considering some unexpected relationships between people I knew and since then I’ve kept coming across instances of it.

    Some straight women are also attracted to gay and bisexual men of course. And many straight men most definitely have an actual sexual preference for bisexual women.

  • divkid

    @Geri: ok thanks, that’s interesting to know.

    i just always assumed that for a man there’d be no advantage to reveal that, best to shut up and not rock the boat; unless you were intending a threesome with another male, then the issue might, well, pop up, so to speak. but then i suppose it would be nice to be able confide ones fantasies and desires to someone who understood and shared them.

    a bisexual woman, however, has a whole different cultural valence. but as a straight acquaintance of mine conveyed to me (no doubt completely unjustifiably): fantasy material, yes, but hardly relationship material. actually the full unvarnished horror of his words were these: “yeah, i’d do the whole fuckin’ lot of them piled floor to ceiling… but could you imagine bringing one home to tea with your gran!” (have forbearance, please.)

    funnily enough a parallel pertains in gay male culture: many’s a profile perused peppered patently falsely with the term bisexual in order to betoken what(?) — an extra “maleness”, or virility? and yet, again this cultural premium is non transfrable into the realm of boyfriend-material. go figure.

    “Some straight women are also attracted to gay and bisexual men of course.”

    yes, here my suspicion *is* pinged. often, to such women a gay man is a non-threatening, non-sexual sex-substitute, or a pit stop in the emotionally scary sexy darwinian carnage that is the heterosexual dating scene. but maybe that’s a prejudice i need to work on.

    ah well, such is the world, in many ways we’re still in the dark ages, psycho-sexually speaking.

  • R.A.

    Can’t you make a comment without being insulting?
    What’s wrong with you?

  • Katharine

    @David Ehrenstein:

    It was really a myth that Katharine could be generous to other actors . I believe the source of that quotation was Cukor and it was quoted in a recent book by William Mann who must have thought it was credible.

  • Ethan

    The big point: who gives a damn? Sexuality is private; for those who need to make their orientation a religion, get used to conflict. Then again, drama queens and kings need a fight it to survive. Look at an actor’s work; how trivial is your life that you care with whom someone slept? Get a life.

  • Geri

    @R.A.: What’s wrong with me? Gore Vidal says he’s had affairs with men and women. But you claim his bisexuality is “purely political.” What’s wrong with you?

    I think Cynthia Nixon is probably somewhat reluctant to identify as bisexual because of people like you and the dismissive comments you make. And that pisses me off to be perfectly honest.


  • Geri

    @Ethan: OK. I’ll tell you what the big point is Ethan.

    For gay and bisexual people of Katherine Hepburn’s generation their sexuality had to be a private matter. They could not be open about it at all. They were compelled to keep it private. If she was bisexual or lesbian it would have been unthinkable for her to have come out until she was in the twilight of her career. It would not only have utterly destroyed her Hollywood career she might even have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation – i.e. surgical removal of her clitoris while being detained in an institution for the mentally ill.

    Until the 1950s FGM was used in England and the US as a “treatment” for lesbianism, masturbation, hysteria, epilepsy and other “female deviances”. This sort of shit still goes on in many other parts of the world today.

    So obviously in a sexually repressive, homophobic world, sexuality is not a private matter at all. Bigots have no respect for the personal privacy of the people they hate.

    So why don’t you “get a life” yourself Ethan? And stop telling other people to “live a lie” – because that’s basically what you’re advocating whether you realise it or not.

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