Katharine Hepburn Quotes: Wisdom from a Hollywood Icon

Katharine Hepburn was an American actress known for her fierce independence, unconventional personality, and remarkable acting talent. Over her long career, she became an icon of Hollywood’s golden age, and her legacy has continued to inspire generations of women.

But beyond her on-screen achievements, Hepburn was also a witty and insightful individual, with a wealth of memorable quotes that reflect her unique perspective on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. In this article, we’ll explore some of Katharine Hepburn’s most famous and inspiring quotes, and discover what they can teach us about living a fulfilling life.



Katharine Hepburn was one of the most beloved and respected actresses of the 20th century. Over her long career, she appeared in more than 50 films, winning four Academy Awards and becoming known for her strong, independent characters and her ability to convey deep emotion through her performances.

But Hepburn was much more than just an actress. She was also a trailblazer, challenging societal norms and expectations and paving the way for future generations of women in Hollywood and beyond. Her wit, intelligence, and wisdom are evident in the many memorable quotes she left behind, which continue to inspire and enlighten us today.

In this article, we’ll explore some of Katharine Hepburn’s most famous and inspiring quotes, organized by theme. Whether you’re a fan of her films or simply looking for some words of wisdom to guide you through life, there’s sure to be something here for you.


Katharine Hepburn: A Life in Pictures

Before we dive into Hepburn’s quotes, let’s take a brief look at her life and career. Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1907, Hepburn was the daughter of a prominent surgeon and suffragette. She attended Bryn Mawr College and began acting in stage productions before making her film debut in 1932’s “A Bill of Divorcement.”

Over the next several decades, Hepburn appeared in some of Hollywood’s most iconic films, including “Bringing Up Baby,” “The Philadelphia Story,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” She was known for her fierce independence, both on and off screen, and became a symbol of female empowerment and self-determination.

Hepburn passed away in 2003 at the age of 96, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire and captivate audiences today.


Hepburn on Acting and Performance

As an actress, Katharine Hepburn was known for her exceptional talent and her ability to convey deep emotions through her performances. Here are some of her most famous quotes on acting and performance:


“Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.”

This quote highlights Hepburn’s self-deprecating humor and her down-to-earth approach to her craft. Despite her many accomplishments as an actress, she never took herself too seriously. 


“You can’t play comedy for comedy. You play comedy absolutely serious.”

importance of sincerity and authenticity in comedic performances. She believed that the best way to make an audience laugh was to fully commit to the role and play it with complete seriousness.


“If you want to give up the admiration of thousands of men for the distain of one, go ahead, get married.”

This quote reflects Hepburn’s unconventional attitude towards relationships and marriage. She believed that women should be free to pursue their own goals and interests, rather than conforming to society’s expectations of marriage and motherhood.


Hepburn on Love and Relationships

Hepburn was famously independent and never married, but that didn’t stop her from having a few choice words on the subject of love and relationships. Here are some of her most famous quotes:


“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.”

This quote emphasizes the importance of selflessness and generosity in relationships. Hepburn believed that true love is about giving everything you have, without expecting anything in return.


“I have loved and I have lost, and I am still here standing.”

This quote highlights Hepburn’s resilience and strength in the face of heartbreak. She believed that even when love doesn’t go as planned, it’s possible to pick yourself up and keep going.


“Men and women should own the world as a mutual possession.”

This quote reflects Hepburn’s feminist ideals and her belief in gender equality. She saw relationships as partnerships between equals, rather than hierarchical power struggles.


Hepburn on Life and Philosophy

Hepburn was known for her unique perspective on life and her deep philosophical insights. Here are some of her most famous quotes:


“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”

This quote emphasizes the importance of following your own interests and passions, rather than conforming to the expectations of others. Hepburn believed that by pursuing what makes us happy, we can bring joy to ourselves and others.


“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”

Here, Hepburn emphasizes the importance of living life to the fullest, even if it means taking risks and stepping outside of our comfort zones. She believed that we should always strive for excitement and fulfillment in our work and our personal lives.


“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

This quote reflects Hepburn’s rebellious spirit and her disdain for conformity. She believed that the most interesting and fulfilling lives are those that break the rules and forge their own paths.


Hepburn on Women’s Rights and Feminism

As a trailblazer for women in Hollywood, Hepburn was passionate about women’s rights and feminism. Here are some of her most famous quotes on the subject:


“I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man. I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to, and I’ve made enough money to support myself, and I ain’t afraid of being alone.”

This quote reflects Hepburn’s fierce independence and her rejection of traditional gender roles. She believed that women should be free to live as they please, without the constraints of societal expectations.


“Women have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

Here, Hepburn acknowledges the progress that women have made towards equality, while also recognizing that there is still work to be done. She believed that women should continue to fight for their rights and advocate for change.


“Women’s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.”

This quote reflects Hepburn’s belief that women’s rights are not just important in their own right, but are a crucial part of the broader fight for human rights and equality.



Katharine Hepburn was a true icon, both on and off the screen. Her wit, wisdom, and trailblazing spirit continue to inspire generations of women and men. Her quotes reflect her unique perspective on life, love, feminism, and the world, and remind us to be true to ourselves, follow our passions, and fight for what we believe in.



-As one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.

-If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.

-Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.

-If you need a helping hand, you can find one at the end of your arm.

-If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.

-You are the only person you can actually change

Katharine Hepburn Quotes

-I have no romantic feelings about age. Either you are interesting at any age or you are not. There is nothing particularly interesting about being old – or being young, for that matter.

-Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.

-If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior.

-You can’t change the music of your soul.

-Don’t give in! Make your own trail. Don’t moan. Don’t complain. Think positively.

-Never complain. Never explain.

-I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.

-Life gets harder the smarter you get, the more you know.

-What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.

-You politicians remain professional because the voters remain amateur.

-It’s not what you start in life, it’s what you finish.

-Life can be wildly tragic at times, and I’ve had my share. But whatever happens to you, you have to keep a slightly comic attitude. In the final analysis, you have got not to forget to laugh.

-You learn in life that the only person you can really correct and change is yourself.

Katharine Hepburn Quotes

-I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man. I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to, and I’ve made enough money to support myself, and ain’t afraid of being alone

-Don’t moan, don’t whine, don’t blame. Just get on with it.

-If you’re given a choice between money and sex appeal, take the money. As you get older, the money will become your sex appeal.

-Loved people are loving people.

-I believe how I act today will affect how I am tomorrow.

-The notion that work is a burden is a terrible mistake. Working and facing up to one’s responsibilities: That’s happiness.

-If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.

-Silence the artist and you have silenced the most articulate voice the people have.

-Friendship, if somebody holds out his hand toward you, you’ve got to reach and take it… There are too many people alone, and if you’re lucky enough for somebody to want you as a friend, it’s an obligation.

-“Isn’t it fun getting older?” is really a terrible fallacy. That’s like saying I prefer driving an old car with a flat tire.

-When I’ve been unsuccessful, I’ve been controlled. When I’ve been successful, I’ve been in control.

-I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for people.

-Enemies are so stimulating.

-Nobody owes anybody anything; it’s up to each individual to set high standards for himself or herself, and to set about working hard and creating a solid future.

-If you follow all of the rules, you’ll miss all of the fun.

-There are no laurels in life, just new challenges.

-I don’t care WHAT the say about me, as long as it’s not the truth

-The only time I am ever miserable is when I do something just for the money.

-The woman’s position in the world today is so much harder than a man’s that it makes me choke every time I hear a man complain about anything.

-I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex.

-What in the world would we do without our libraries?

-I don’t believe in marriage. It’s bloody impractical. ‘To love, honor, and obey.’ If it weren’t, you wouldn’t have to sign a contract.

-Life is hard. After all, it kills you.

-Listen to the song of life.

-The time to make up your mind about people is never.

-You don’t pick who you fall in love with. There are so few people to love. It’s hard for one adult to even like another. Almost impossible.

-To keep your character intact you cannot stoop to filthy acts. It makes it easier to stoop the next time.

-I was brought up by two extremely intelligent people who gave me the greatest gift that man can give anyone, and that is freedom from fear.

-If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.

-What the hell-you might be right, you might be wrong…but don’t just avoid.

-Cold sober, I find myself absolutely fascinating.

-Without discipline, there’s no life at all.

-My, I like Judy Holliday! She looks like a Monet model. And she’s so – so defenseless. I like defenseless people. They’re the best.

-You give because you love and cannot help giving.

-I would have been a terrible mother because I’m basically a very selfish human being. Not that that has stopped most people going off and having children.

-I realised long ago that skirts are hopeless. Anytime I hear a man say he prefers a woman in a skirt, I say, ‘Try one. Try a skirt.’

-I’m a legend because I’ve survived over a long period of time and still seem to be master of my fate – I’m still paddling the goddamned boat myself.

-It would be a terrific innovation if you could get your mind to stretch a little further than the next wisecrack.

-The average Hollywood film star’s ambition is to be admired by an American, courted by an Italian, married to an Englishman and have a French boyfriend.

-Once a crowd chased me for an autograph. “Beat it”, I said, “go sit on a tack!” “We made you”, they said. “Like hell you did”, I told them.

-Love fattens on smooth words.

-It is the plain women who know about love; the beautiful women are too busy being fascinating.

-Not everyone is lucky enough to understand how delicious it is to suffer.

-All my life, I’ve stayed at parties too long because I didn’t know when to go.

-It’s how you live that really counts

-I’ve made forty-three pictures. Naturally I’m adorable in all of them.

-Acting is a nice childish profession – pretending you’re someone else and, at the same time, selling yourself.

-I don’t feel the slightest interest in the next world; I think it’s here. And I think anything good that you’re going to do, you should do for other people here and not so you can try to have a happy time in the next world.

Katharine Hepburn Quotes

-I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done; as long as I enjoyed it at the time

-To live creatively free, do what you know how to do now, then ‘act as if’ you know how to do the rest.

-I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.

-People think that I’m tough and strong and that I kicked my way through everything. But they are wrong. The truth is that when I was young I was adorable and a trembling wreck.

-I don’t fear death, it must be like a long sleep.

-Marriage is a series of desperate arguments people feel passionately about.

-I like to move fast, and wearing high heels was tough, and low heels with a skirt is unattractive. So pants took over.

-I could peel you like a pear and god himself would see the justice in it.

-As for me, prizes are nothing. My prize is my work.

-I think everyone is an opportunist if they have an opportunity.

-A boy sows a wild oat or two, the world winks. A girl does the same — scandal.

-Time is the stuff of which life is made.

-I wear my sort of clothes to save me the trouble of deciding which clothes to wear.

-Trying to be fascinating is an asinine position to be in.

-The lack of work destroys people.

-If you survive long enough, you’re revered – rather like an old building.

-I think most of the people involved in any art always secretly wonder whether they are really there because they’re good or there because they’re lucky.

-You can say or write anything about me you like. Just don’t, for any reason, ever tell the truth.

Katharine Hepburn Quotes

-He’s worked his entire life and he’s never lived a single moment, I mean not a moment, in the real world.

-People who want to be famous are really loners. Or they should be.

-Being a housewife and a mother is the biggest job in the world, but if it doesn’t interest you, don’t do it – I would have made a terrible mother.

-Wouldn’t it be great if people could get to live suddenly as often as they die suddenly?

-Life is very hard, isn’t it? It does kill you, after all.

-Vitality! That’s the pursuit of life, isn’t it?

-Dressing up is a bore. At a certain age, you decorate yourself to attract the opposite sex, and at a certain age, I did that. But I’m past that age.

-I loved Spencer Tracy. I would have done anything for him.

-The terrible thing about acting in the theater is that you have to do it at night.

-Everyone thought I was bold and fearless and even arrogant, but inside I was always quaking.

-I was fearless…and lawless.

-Why slap them on the wrist with feather when you can belt them over the head with a sledgehammer.

-Bogart was like Henry Fonda – proud and happy to be an actor.

-Plain women know more about men than beautiful women do.

-I love rain. It’s lucky, I always think.

-It’s a rather rude gesture, but at least it’s clear what you mean.

-Only when a woman decides not to have children, can a woman live like a man. That’s what I’ve done.

-A sharp knife cuts the quickest and hurts the least.

-I think all good actors are personalities. If they’re not, they’re not stars. What makes you a star is horsepower.

-It’s either some kind of electricity or some kind of energy. I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, I’ve got it.

-What acting means is that you’ve got to get out of your own skin.

-It’s a bore – B-O-R-E – when you find you’ve begun to rot.

Katharine Hepburn Quotes

-I don’t think that work ever really destroyed anybody. I think that lack of work destroys them a hell of a lot more.

-Acting is the most minor of gifts. After all, Shirley Temple could do it when she was four.

-How wonderful are the women and men in the world who feed us. Especially those who feed us with no salary. The mothers—I thought. The wives.

-I was born lucky, and I have lived lucky. What I had was used. What I still have is being used. Lucky.