Posts Tagged “Howard Hughes”


Hedda Hooper's Hollywood, 1939

Exactly 70 years ago, 70 years, famed gossip columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Hedda Hopper ,was writing about actress Katharine Hepburn.

This was 1939 kids.

During this time Hepburn had a romance going on with mega-millionaire Howard Hughes.

Hepburn was having a disasterous time in Hollywood and he was going to put his girl back on the map that was helped along with a little play called “The Philadelphia Story.”

Hepburn fans of course know how that all worked out…splendidly actually, it would go on to be a movie in which she would star with Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.

Just thought you might like to see this little snippet, read under “Good News.”

See you at “The Kate.”
Ann Nyberg, Trustee, KHCAC

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Doane's Airport

Howard Hughes

In the Centerbrook section of the town of Essex, Connecticut is an abandoned airfield once known as “Doane’s Airport.”

In the 1930′s, Howard Hughes used to land his plane there to visit old Saybrook’s most famous resident, Katharine Hepburn.

According to the Pictorial Gazette, the old airfield which is now just a wide-open grassy area, was put into service last year when movie Director Steven Speilberg was shooting the latest Indiana Jones movie.

Essex Selectman, Norman Needleman who owns the former Doane’s Airport property, was asked by Speilberg how much it would cost to land his helicopter at the site. The Gazette reports Needleman said he could land his chopper for free, but would love a donation to the Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation, of which he was treasurer.  The theater received a check from Spielberg for $500.00.

See you at “The Kate.”
Ann Nyberg, Trustee, KHCAC

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Katharine Hepburn

He was one of Hollywood’s finest portrait photographers from 1930 thru the 1950′s and he loved shooting actress Katharine Hepburn.

Ernest Bachrach headed the photographic department at RKO Studios which was owned by Howard Hughes, a man who wanted so much to marry Hepburn.

This photo is by Bachrach circa 1940.

According to the book by Tina Balio “Grand Design; Hollywood As A Modern Business Enterprise, 1930-1939,” glamour photographers such as Bachrach, would retouch each photo as part of the “making of a star.”

“All photos were taken by an eight-by-ten-inch large-format camera. After a negative was processed, artisans retouched it to eliminate excessive weight around the waist, hips, throat, and shoulders by scraping the negative and stippling it (adding new dot patterns to the negative). They also removed lines and skin flaws from the face. After all physical imperfections were removed, the negative was airbrushed to give the face an alabaster appearance on the prints.”

Don’t you wish you had guys like Bachrach around retouching all your photos?

See you at “The Kate.”
Ann Nyberg, Trustee, KHCAC

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Bob and Ellsworth

Ann and Ellsworth


This was a big day at Fenwick. Photographer Bob Czepiel‎ and I went out to chat with former West Hartford Mayor Ellsworth Grant. When you talk to Ellsworth “Molly,” his constant companion, is always nearby.

We had a ball! Ellsworth, who is 90 years young, is Katharine Hepburn’s former Brother-in-law. He was married to Kate’s sister Marion until her death. Ellsworth is the last of the iconic star’s generation who was clost to her.

The Grant’s house in Fenwick is just down the way from the Hepburn house.  Ellsworth is the author of at least 26 books about everything Connecticut. He’s a Harvard man whose roommate was the late Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger. There’s a story about “Cap” as Ellsworth called him, at the Hepburn house in Fenwick, you’ll love that one. Ellsworth has a brilliant mind and is real treasure.

Bob and I, camera rolling, got some tremendous stories from Ellsworth about Katharine Hepburn, and antics in Fenwick. Some of the stories have never been told before.

You will get to see and hear all of this as Bob is putting together a documentary on the beginnings of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center,  and this interview will of course be included.

Just as an appetizer to the documentary, Ellsworth tells us all about the time that Howard Hughes came to call and a bathroom Kate had built for him at the Hepburn home. Remember in the 1930′s Hepburn and Hughes were quite the item and Hughes desperately wanted to marry her. That of course didn’t happen and then along came Spencer Tracy.

Ellsworth has some stories about Tracy’s one and only trip to Fenwick as well.

We can’t thank Ellsworth enough for being so gracious to us and to the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

See you at “The Kate.”
Ann Nyberg, Trustee, KHCAC

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Howard Hughes


Southern Cross Yacht

Can you just imagine this? It’s believed that Katharine Hepburn took up painting on Howard Hughes’ Yacht while sailing through the Bahamas in 1937. I don’t know about you, but I think Hughes was quite “the dish” as evidenced in this early photo.

Hughes bought the 425-foot vessel in the early 1930′s and named it the “Southern Cross.” It was the largest private yacht in the world.

This information and more that I haven’t written about, is gleaned through the “Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America.”

You can find out more about the life of Howard Hughes by going to East Texas Historical Association.

See you at “The Kate.”
Ann Nyberg, Trustee, KHCAC

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