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Katharine Hepburn's Supporting Roles: 3 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actress

By    |   Wednesday, 06 May 2015 03:45 PM

Legendary actress Katharine Hepburn was such a dominating force on the big and small screens that it was rare to find her featured in supporting roles.

Here's a look at three times Hepburn stepped to the side yet shined in support of other lead performers:

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1. "Love Affair" (1994)

Hepburn's role in this Warren Beatty-Annette Bening romance marked the screen legend's last appearance in a feature film. Released nearly a year and a half after Hepburn's death at age 96, the film — a remake of the 1957 classic "An Affair to Remember" — chronicled a love affair between a former football star Mike Gambril (Beatty) and interior decorator Terry McKay (Bening), who are both engaged to other people. Hepburn, given a "special appearance by" credit, plays Ginny, who is Gambril's aunt.

In his review of the film, Roger Ebert wrote about Hepburn's magical presence. "Hepburn's scenes steal, and almost stop, the show. She has been old for a long time (she is in her 80s) but this is the first time she has also looked small and frail," wrote Ebert. "Yet the magnificent spirit is still there, and the romantic fire, and she's right for this eccentric old woman, living alone in unimaginable splendor, and feeling an instant connection with the young woman her nephew has brought home."

2. "Rooster Cogburn" (1975)

Although she plays a lead role opposite John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn could technically be considered supporting because "Rooster Cogburn" may best be classified as a "John Wayne Western." After all, Wayne established Cogburn in his Oscar-winning turn as the character in "True Grit" (1969).

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Hepburn is definitely central to the proceedings, though, as Eula Goodnight, who teams with Cogburn to bring to justice the men who killed Goodnight's father.

In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote of how Hepburn and Wayne complimented one another: "Miss Hepburn has a roaring good time – so convincingly that you come to accept the movie on its own terms. It's a cheerful, throwaway Western, featuring two stars of the grand tradition who respond to each other with verve that makes the years disappear."

3. "One Christmas" (2004)

Like "Love Affair" (2004), Hepburn appears in a posthumous role in "One Christmas," a television movie that marks her final screen performance in her illustrious six-decade career.

Although Hepburn is billed as the star of the film, "One Christmas" is more about the story of Buddy (T.J. Lowther), a boy who reunites with his scheming estranged father (Henry Winkler). Hepburn plays Aunt Cornelia, the aunt of Emily (Swoozie Kurtz), the love interest of Buddy's dad, DVD Verdict says.

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Legendary actress Katharine Hepburn was such a dominating force on the big and small screens that it was rare to find her featured in supporting roles.
katharine hepburn, supporting roles
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2015-45-06
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 03:45 PM
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