Well, it’s not enough to be talented. There’s a lot of talent out
there, but it’s owned by lazy, stupid, or essentially boring
people. You can’t just be talented: You have to be terribly
smart and energetic and ruthless. You also have to become
necessary to people, by working hard and well and bringing
more than your bones and your skin to the project. Don’t just
show up. Transform the work, yourself, and everybody
around you. Be needed. Be interesting. Be something no one
else can be–and consistently.

Katharine Hepburn/Interview with James Grissom/1990



In the early days of film lesbianism was a taboo subject, if it even came up at all. The first forays into queerness for ladies on film came with gender-bending cross-dressing. Katharine Hepburn plays two of these roles. First in Christopher Strong (1933) and again in Sylvia Scarlett (1936) she plays Sylvia who disguises herself as a boy to avoid suspicion while running from the cops with her father.{x}


Aries: Bette Davis

Taurus: Judy Garland

Gemini: Natalie Wood

Cancer: Vivien Leigh

Leo: Katharine Hepburn

Virgo: Grace Kelly

Libra: Rita Hayworth

Scorpio: Ava Gardner

Sagittarius: Elizabeth Taylor

Capricorn: Lauren Bacall 

Aquarius: Audrey Hepburn

Pisces: Marilyn Monroe

Read Claudia Roth Pierpont’s 2003 story on Katharine Hepburn, unlocked as part of our collection of New Yorker classics about leading ladies.

Apart from cinema’s eternal little girls—like Lillian Gish or Mary Pickford—Hepburn was probably the least sexual beauty ever to become a movie star. The lack of femme fatality may be ascribed to her uncommon self-possession: the stubborn vertical bracing of that pratfall also kept her from assuming the conventionally vulnerable (or predatory) female sexual postures. This is the Hepburn women still want their daughters to watch.

Hepburn in New York City, March 2, 1955. Photograph by Richard Avedon.


Retro Beauty Secrets:

Marilyn Monroe was arguably as famed for her radiant Hollywood glow as she was for her flirtatious on-screen presence. However, she used an odd technique to maintain it – hormone cream. The actress would layer Active pHelityl Cream and a powder foundation on top of each other to create a radiant base that shimmered and shined on camera. The downside was that she grew a fine layer of peachy-blonde hair over her face. She was encouraged to shave it off, but refused because of the glow it gave her in photographs. 

Audrey Hepburn was an incredibly dainty Hollywood beauty, who pioneered the baby doll look with a slick of liquid kohl and super-fine layer of mascara on the upper lashes. Rumour has it that she got her lashes so plush and natural-looking by pain-stakingly separating them with a pin after each layer of mascara she applied.

German actress Marlene Dietrich is considered to be one of the greatest actresses of all time, but was also highly prized for her sculptured glamour. She believed in accentuating the natural lines of her face with shading, shaping and contouring. One of her most startling features were her perfectly shaped brows. She achieved this look by shaving them off and drawing them on with kohl, as was the fashion in the 1930s. She also never used mascara on her lower lashes, as she believed it cast a shadow and made her look tired.

American actress Joan Crawford didn’t use fancy products to keep her legendary face smooth and taut – she chewed gum in the belief that it firmed up her jaw and help to drain the toxins out from under her chin. She was also religious about her cleansing regime, and would splash her face 25 times with ice cold water after every wash.

Greta Garbo’s dramatic eye make-up was the inspiration for many a Hollywood starlet – including Marilyn Monroe – and not without good reason. To create the look, she would apply a super-thin layer of petroleum jelly over the eyelids, cover with neutral skin-toned powder all the way up to the brow line and blend a dark shade into the crease for a theatrical, deep-set appearance. She’d also line the upper lid with eyeliner made from a blend of petroleum and charcoal pigment, and finish with mascara.

A strong-willed actress, Katherine Hepburn had very much her own style – natural, minimalist and slightly androgynous. This meant a lot of neutral tones and flawless skin that allowed her to wear sheer, natural make-up and still look radiant. To keep her complexion in tip-top condition, she would exfoliate regularly. She would use a mixture of sugar, a tiny amount of warm water and a squeeze of lemon juice massaged into the skin and followed up with a splash of ice-cold water.

There’s a reason Kim Carnes wrote a song about Bette Davis’s eyes – they were enviably huge, bright and line-free. How did she keep them that way? Simple – cucumbers on the eyelids every night before bed and a layer of petroleum jelly under the eye at night to protect against puffiness and dark circles. 

Rita Hayworth’s tumbling auburn locks caught many a man’s eye during the 1940s, but there was one trick she used to keep her hair in great, lustrous condition. Like many women of the era, Rita would shampoo her hair with hot water, rinse it, then saturate it with oil and wrap it up in a towel for 15 minutes. Then she’d rinse it out with hot water, a cleanser and lemon juice to get rid of any left over residue.

Grace Kelly’s minimalist chic has earned her a reputation for being one of the most classic beauties of all time, but even she had a few make-up secrets to share. Instead of harsh lines and colour, she chose neutral shades that subtly enhanced her natural features. She would apply a tawny brown eyeshadow delicately along her eyebrows to define them, and created the illusion of cheekbones by using two shades of blusher – a lighter tone over the bone, and a darker shade in the hollows.

Stunning British star Vivien Leigh kept her skin spectacularly beautiful with regular facials. The Gone With The Wind actress was among several high-profile clients of Madame Lubatti, a legendary skincare doyenne who hand-mixed scented lotions and aromatic oils to treat English royalty and society ladies. Via