"WHAT GHASTLY HAPPENINGS—I CAN'T SEEM TO TAKE IT IN—ABOUT BOBBY KENNEDY": AMAZING KATHARINE HEPBURN AUTOGRAPH LETTER MENTIONING BOBBY KENNEDY'S ASSASSINATION, THE VIETNAM WAR, AND SPENCER TRACY'S WIFE
HEPBURN, Katharine. Autograph letter signed. [Paris, France]: June 17, 1968. Two sheets of "Katharine Houghton Hepburn" letterhead stationery, 8-1/4 by 10-1/4 inches, written on rectos for two pages. Framed with a photograph, entire piece measures 35 by 19 inches.
Revealing Katharine Hepburn autograph letter, completely in her hand, to her friend Meta Stern, mentioning Bobby Kennedy's assassination, the Vietnam War and her own personal loss in it, and Spencer Tracy's wife, signed with her initial "K."
The letter reads in full: "Dearest Meta – Finally a letter from you. We got no mail from mid May to June 12th – now it's beginning to trickle in. What ghastly happenings – I can't seem to take it in – about Bobby Kennedy. One feels that it cannot be true. Also on May 10th my sister Peg's oldest son Tom – in Vietnam – was reported missing. As bombing stopped it took pressure off V.C. who apparently swarmed over the Special Forces camp where he was – he is a medic – 1 yr trained – went out to collect victims – never returned no body has been found. The area where he was last is in enemy hands, and so far Da Nang is still ours, so senseless waste hits home. Terribly sad – I had a letter from him written May 1st counting his chances. Sorry you got no letters – I tried to send them by people leaving the country. You couldn't even mail anything here. Should finish July 1st – Paris today for 6 days Plaza Athene. Mrs. Tracy thinks too much K.H. in Spence T.V. Chet Erskine did excellent job – said she would like me not to narrate & only to be an actress he worked with – so – see you soon – Love to both – K-". Chet Erskine is Chester Erskine (1905-86), a director, producer and screenwriter. Meta Stern (1925-59) was a Hollywood script supervisor who worked on many blockbuster films, including the 1936 release Mary of Scotland, starring Katharine Hepburn. Although Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were well known as both a professional and romantic couple, Tracy never divorced his wife because of their Catholic faith; after his death in 1967 (a year before this letter), Hepburn famously was not present at his funeral.