8 March 2015

From Boss to Conkshell

During the 1930s, Katharine Hepburn and film- and business tycoon Howard Hughes had a relationship that lasted more than two years. They met in June 1935 during production of "Sylvia Scarlett", when Hughes had been invited to lunch by his friend Cary Grant (Hepburn's co-star). While initially unimpressed with Hughes' bravado manner, Hepburn eventually fell for him and began an affair with him a year later. In her autobiography "Me. Stories of My Life" (1991), Hepburn talks about their relationship: "We were a colorful pair. It seemed logical for us to be together, but it seems to me now that we were too similar. He came from the right street, so to speak. And so did I. We'd been brought up in ease. [...] I look back at our relationship and I think that we were both cool customers. He could do anything he wanted. And when I decided to move East, I think he thought, Well, I don't want to move East. I'll find someone who will stay West. I always thought it was lucky that we never married- two people who are used to having their own way should stay separate." 

Howard Hughes and Katharine Hepburn (shown above in Hughes' airplane) were resp. 29 and 27 years old when they met. Apart from being Hepburn's boyfriend, Hughes would also prove instrumental to her career. After Hepburn had been labelled 'box-office poison' in 1938, Hughes bought her the film rights to "The Philadelphia Story"; the film would be Hepburn's ticket back into the Hollywood limelight.
During their relationship, Hepburn and Hughes often sent each other telegrams. And, being the centre of much media attention, they naturally tried to keep it a secret. For that purpose, most of the telegrams that were sent to Hepburn were addressed to Emily Perkins (Hepburn's assistant) and Hughes would sign them with Dan--short for 'Dynamite'. Apart from this nickname, there were a few others that were used by the couple, including 'Boss' and 'Conkshell'. Below you'll find several of the telegrams Hughes sent to Hepburn, and also shown are two handwritten drafts of telegrams from Hepburn to Hughes (these drafts are undated but presumably written early 1939).

The first telegram that is shown was -as opposed to the other telegrams- addressed directly to 'Miss Hepburn' and sent to the Ambassador Hotel in Chicago. At the time, Hepburn was staying in Chicago while on tour with the stage production of "Jane Eyre".

Transcript

1937 JAN 19 PM 10 34

MISS HEPBURN= RM 746
AMBASSADOR HOTEL=

DARLING CANNOT CALL YOU THIS EVENING BECAUSE SHALL BE ON A TRAIN BOUND FOR THAT GREAT MIDWESTERN METROPOLIS CONSIDERED BY SOME THE SEAT OF CULTURE AND LEARNING SUPPOSED TO ARRIVE SIX SOMETHING IN THE AFTERNOON PROBABLY NOT IN TIME TO SEE YOU BEFORE THE THEATRE SO WILL TRY TO CONTAIN MYSELF UNTIL ELEVEN THIRTY LOVE=
DAN.

Transcript

1937 FEB 3
MISS PERKINS=
ROOM 747 AMBASSADOR EAST HOTEL=

AM WIRING YOU ON BEHALF OF AN IMPUDENT AND APPARENTLY SLIGHTLY DEMENTED YOUNG FOOL NAMED DANIEL WHO SAUNTERED OUT ACROSS THE BRINEY DEEP THIS MORNING IN WHAT APPEARED TO BE A NINETEEN SEVENTEEN FORD ANYWAY HE SAID TO TELL YOU IT LOOKS LIKE HE MEANS AS THOUGH YOU MAY EXPECT HIM HOME THIS EVENING BY ELEVEN THIRTY=
UNSIGNED.

Transcript

1937 FEB 16 PM 10 49
MISS EMILY PERKINS=
MUEHLEBACH HOTEL KSC=

WOULD YOU CARE TO KNOW WHAT TAKES PLACE IN MY MIND AS THE RATTLER RATTLES ON A SAMPLE THEN HOW DREADFUL I LIKE YOUR EVERYDAY USE OF CURSE WORDS NORMALLY CONSIDERED SO VIOLENTLY EXPRESSIVE AND YOUR SAVING FOR SPECIAL OCCASION I HOPE MY LITTLE GEE WHIZ=
DAN.

LITTLE GEE WHIZ.

Transcript:

1937 MAR 12 PM 11 37

EMILY PERKINS=
WADEPARK MANOR HOTEL CLEVELAND OHIO=

PLEASE CONSIDER THIS ONE LARGE LUSCIOUS HAND PICKED PERSONALLY SELECTED MAGNOLIA WITH EXTRA SPECIAL SMELL THROWN IN  FORGIVE THIS TELEVISION AGAINST LAW SHIP OUT FLOWERS AND COCOANUTS ALSO NO FLORIST ON ISLAND DARLING I DO HOPE EVERYTHING GOES WELL TOMORROW LOVE=
DAN.
---------------------------------
The following telegram from March 1938 was sent to 211 South Muirfield Road in Los Angeles-- Hughes' home that Hepburn had moved into about a year earlier.

Transcript

1938 MAR 30 PM 7 28
EMILY PERKINS= 211 SOUTH MUIRFIELD DRIVE
[redacted] LOSA=

HERE I AM BOSS HOPE TO SEE YOU TOMORROW LOVE=
BOBB.

BOSS BOBB.

Transcript

1939 MAR 21 PM 9 0
EMILY PERKINS=
RITZCARLTON HOTEL BOSTONMASS=

CONKSHELL YOU ARE TERRIFIC BUT YOU MIGHT SAY SOMETHING NICE AMID CLEVERNESS AND REMINDERS WHICH MAKE ME LONESOME DONT WORRY ABOUT ANY ENGLISH DUTY LIGHT OR HEAVY LOVE=
BOSS.
Transcript:

H.R. Hughes
British Colonial
NASSAU BAHAMAS

REDECORATING CONKSHELL AND HAVE REMOVED WINTER COVER- WOULD SUGGEST REPLANTING RED FIR TREES ON FRONT BORDER- WILL YOU WANT AN ELEVATOR [redacted] EVERYTHING DUSTY BUT WELL PRESERVED. FOR RENT OR FOR SALE. MY CLIENT DESPERATE WILL TAKE EITHER-
(...)

Transcript: 

H.R. Hughes
British Colonial
NASSAU BAHAMAS

ARRIVED ONE ITEM
MISSING ONE BOSS LONELY ONE MOUSE- EMPTY ONE CONKSHELL


Transcript:

1939 MAR 23 PM 10 33

EMILY PERKINS
RITZCARLTON HOTEL BOSTONMASS=

HAVE DECIDED REMEDY EMPTY CONCHSHELL SITUATION ON ARRIVAL REGARDLESS AND IRREGARDLESS HOPE YOU DONT OBJECT TOO STRENUOUSLY MUCH LOVE=

BOSS.

Images of all telegrams courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

2 comments:

  1. Wow! These are amazing. Thanks for finding them..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks again for visiting, Vienna.

    ReplyDelete