John Wayne was a supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the 1950s, and was stringently against any communism in the USA. His strong political views meant that he fell out with a number of Hollywood stars, including Hepburn, who turned down a movie because Wayne was in it.
In 1953 Wayne was looking for a leading lady to join him in the Western film Hondo. Hepburn, who was at the height of her fame, was approached for the role, but quickly decided against it because of the star’s connection with the HUAC. The role of Angie Lowe was eventually taken on by American star Geraldine Page, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
20 years later, however, Hepburn changed her mind.
Wayne and Hepburn starred in the 1975 movie Rooster Cogburn together. Wayne took on the titular character, while Hepburn played Miss Eula Goodnight – much to the surprise of everyone who knew of her disdain for the Western star.
The pair seemed to get on throughout the shooting of Rooster Cogburn, but when the film had wrapped up, Katharine revealed how she really felt about the star.
At the wrap party for the film Katharine approached Wayne and told him: “I’m glad I didn’t know you when you had two lungs, you must have been a real b*****d. Losing a hip has mellowed me, but you!”
Despite this, the pair did find a fondness for one another.
Katharine years later praised Wayne and called him “fascinating”. She said: “He has confidence in himself, which gives him enormous charisma. He’s quick, he’s sensitive. He knows all the techniques. I think he’s an awfully good actor – and a terribly funny man. We laugh all day. What a goddamn fascinating personality!”