Katharine Hepburn gave her first-ever television interview to Dick Cavett on his show on September 11, 1973. One of the most private people in Hollywood, she decided to do it to help promote the American Film Theatre, an experimental project that was a subscription based series of films based on plays. Hepburn herself appeared in one of the films: Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance. The studio taping actually started as a test run to see if the interview is something she would like to do, hence the informality of the event. At a certain point when they were talking, she said they should just go ahead and tape the show right then and there. (It was one of the rare Cavett show’s to not have a live audience, only various people who filtered in throughout). For the first few minutes, Hepburn wasn’t aware that cameras were rolling and it captured the legend in a candid moment where she criticizes the set decoration, gives common sense advice to the technical crew and then settles into the interview. Favorite quote from that moment: “Don’t tell me what’s wrong, just fix it.” Hepburn was asked and gave total permission for the show to air this footage.
The interview was so lengthy it actually covered two episodes and was one of the most popular episodes of Dick Cavett’s show. It is basically what we would have had if Hepburn had ever appeared on “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” she delves into her career, the technique of acting, her opinions on the industry… well everything you can think of. The interview is long, there’s no getting past that, running almost three hours in length and is divided here into fifteen sections on youtube. However, it is completely fascinating. I’ve watched the entire thing twice myself, so if you want to settle in, be sure you have time!
PS – This is the interview where she gave the famed quote: “Cold sober, I find myself absolutely fascinating.”