On October 3, 2020, Cher officially received her Spirit of Katharine Hepburn award, including an interview with Ann Nyberg at Cher's house. You can watch the full program on the KATE YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtIVjM1oUOI&feature=emb_logo
The fifth annual event was held virtually this year from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. "Believe" was the keyword organizers gave everyone to slip into their speeches. Donation were also accepted during the event. It kicked off with great quote by Katharine Hepburn: "Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough." The quote actually ends with this, "Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.”
They gave a short intro on cher and talked about her bold independence in 6 decades of show business. They aired a very short video retrospective of her work in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and "the naughties," ending with her 250-million-grossing Farewell tour, highest grossing tour by a woman, they said.
Sponsors came on to congratulate Cher. The Governor of Connecticut came on and then the selection committee raised their Believe bellini drinks. At this point the fundraising was up to 34k.
Jerrod Spector and his wife sang a cover of "I Got You Babe." She almost could be auditioning for the traveling show but she was pretty good. Jerrod called Cher his “stage wife sort of” and refers to Cher as “the madam herself.” Donations jumped to 38K while they were singing.
The Senators of Connecticut spoke next, Blumenthal saying Cher "has been enriching our lives so powerfully." Murphy says he’s been a fan for a long time and thanks Cher for helping people in need during the pandemic.
They talked about the KATE's live events and the camp for kids.
Eileen Ivers talks about how Cher testifies in "Believe." She says "we are strong enough!" and then does a great "Believe" cover on the fiddle. Lucy Arnaz congrats "my friend."
Ed Asner says congratulations to Cher and calls her "the most lovely lady on creation. She certainly deserves it. She’s a live one.” I actually got emotional when Asner said "She’s a Live One!!" His Emmy award is prominently displayed behind him. Donations jumped to 41K during his speech.
Peter Asher talks about working with Cher while he produced some of her records. He said "I admire her enormously…she’s quite a remarkable woman, very versatile, hard working, determined, unreasonably talented, with a uniquely remarkable voice…she can be scary from time to time” (right?!) which he said could also be said about Katharine herself in the same way.
Jimmy Webb calls Cher “the brightest, quickest thinker I have ever known and a Backgammon hustler par excellence…most of all a talented and soulful vocalist” (right!!??) and an unquenchable sense of humor.” (I’ve never thought of senses of humor being quenchable?) He says they were working together when Cher appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. And “long before feminism was a thing, I knew you as the formidable representative of women’s rights.” (Solid props there!) “You most certainly have the spirit of Katharine Hepburn. I loved you then and I love you now. I have always 'believed' in you. Call me.” He actually said that. Call me. Incorporating believe is getting annoying but those are some accolades right there.
Then they went through all the past winners giving their congrats to Cher.
2014-Dick Cavett: "Oh am I happy to be here tonight” for someone special whom he has always loved. (I love his enthusiasm.) And he says: “No one has ever said I met someone just like Katharine Hepburn and no one has ever said I met someone just like Cher. What a team.” Perfect!
2017-Glen Close: She says she’s “totally, wonderfully thrilled for you Cher. How deserving you are to get this award because you are iconic yourself. In some ways I think you define the word iconic. You are part of our lives, part of our DNA. You are a fierce heart, a beautiful human being. You are an icon for women and I’m sure men as well.” She asked Cher to “feel loved and celebrated and deeply appreciated for who you have been and what you have done for your entire career. Bravo, bravo Cher”
2018-Ann Nyberg: she says Cher is alone in her class” (so true) and talks about “your drive and your moxie would make Katharine Hepburn proud. She carried out her own path and so have you. Thank you for all you have given to the world of entertainment and for all the kindness you have shown to so many throughout your life who needed your help” (me: including elephants!) “Keep shining your light.”
2019-Christine Baranski: she said, “Ms. Cher, darling, you embody the beauty, the talent, dare I say the balls, of the late Ms. Katharine Hepburn, except for one thing, you sing way better than she did. Congratulations Cher."
We then met the artist who made the award and what photos she used and what the process was for creating the clay statue, making a mold, customizing the individual pieces, forging the statue and the pictures used to design the piec.
Stephanie J. Block then talked about how she portrayed (past tense??) Cher in The Cher Show and how in the Chicago run Cher asked that they retool "Believe" to sound different so that people could hear the lyrics. Block said they turned the song into a soulful ballad but keeping the “intensity and fire” of the original. Block indicated that when “it’s safe to perform again…” but then she didn’t finish that thought. Urg! Block called Cher “unexpected and totally impactful” at “moving people” and “touching people.”
Nile Rogers then talked about “the phenomenal, fantastic, fabulous Cher. [Katharine Hepburn] is one of the coolest American icons and certainly Cher fits that description. Since I’ve been working with her, I have to say she is probably the coolest boss I’ve worked for. I also win a lot of money playing bingo. No one ever in my life played bingo with me and I don’t think I’ve ever won before. Seriously, she’s multi-talented. Her heart is as big as they come. The most altruistic, coolest, awesome woman and a wig truck that will put anybody to shame, maybe even Diana Ross. It’s ridiculous. You totally deserve it. You are one of the coolest people I’ve ever known.”
This is a common theme of late: people describing Cher as THE coolest of the cool. And yet anthologies of cool don’t include her at all? But I digress...
Andy Cohen then talks about Katharine Hepburn’s fierce independence, strong personality and her paving the way for women. “Cher, you represent all the great qualities of Hepburn and more. Could Hepburn sing Believe? Survive Sonny? Wear Mackie Outfits” That’s unclear he says of the latest question. “You are my number one.” The 'surviving Sonny' was a bit much considering Sonny is part and parcel of even later-day Cherness.
Bob Mackie then talks about Cher as a “gorgeous creature” and “what a perfect honor,” how Cher is “like Katharine Hepburn in so many ways and yet nothing like her.” He says nobody can look like Cher; “they’ve tried.” He says she’s a “warrior goddess” Like Cher, Katharine Hepburn was always Katharine Hepburn, a perfect movie star. Mackie says he’s “thrilled to be here” and calls Cher a “true partner.” He says “We were both children when we started. Still are in our brains.”
Before introducing Cher, the event announcer says Cher is an icon of her time like Hepburn was an icon of her own time. And that Cher challenged the rules and the norm just like Hepburn did and brought a one of a kind approach to her own talent. Katharine Hepburn bucked the trends and took control of her own career.” They then played Cher’s TMC tribute to Hepburn with her story of meeting Hepburn and being light-headed, sweating and feeling like a complete idiot.”
Chaz then talks about “my mom’s career over a lifetime. It’s pretty amazing.” He talks about how he has connected as an actor to her struggles to be taken seriously as an actor. “It’s my favorite thing that she does” he says of her acting. He says as a parent she is amazing and that she’s been there for him and “come to everything I’ve done” even to visiting him on sets. He calls her “an inspiration” and that he’s “so proud of her and happy she’s getting this honor.”
The last part is the interview with Cher. Ann Nyerg arrives at Cher’s house in Malibu. They do an elbow wave.
Cher admires the pictures of Hepburn they’ve put up in her house. They do a social distancing interview. Cher talks about watching Hepburn movies with her mom, along with Bette Davis, Ava Gardner…women who were “magic onscreen” and as actors who “carried you farther.”
Nyberg asks Cher about aspects of her career. Cher says films are harder but TV and the stage are “a snap.” I always said I’d never make many movies.” She said she loved Broadway because she didn’t have to look at the audience. She always has to calibrate “how am I doing” in her concert shows. She talked about her favorite scenes: on the swing in Silkwood when she stared crying and the late-night scene with Vincent Gardinia in Moonstruck. She says her good scenes are “few and far between.” She admits she doesn’t give herself much slack. She talks about wining the Oscar and how good it feels to be a nominee of awards but then if you lose you’re just a loser. She really thought Holly Hunter was going to win that year. She talked about saying “shit” on the way up to the podium to get her Oscar and how she forgot to thank the director.
Cher said TV liberated her. It’s where she figured out “this is who I am” and that “I was really funny.” She said she took to it more than Sonny did. They talked about her dancing with The Jacksons on the Cher show. “I wasn’t a dancer" she said and wondered, "Where am I gonna find them in me?” She talks with pride about her West Side Story skit from her TV special in 1978.
When asked about any advise for her 25-year old self and she said it was the same as her advise for her 74-year old self: don’t sweat the small stuff.
We’re up to 79k in donations now.
When asked about any famous BFFs, she asks her assistant Jen who suggests Meryl. Cher then tells the story about stopping an assault/burglary in Manhattan with Meryl and about Meryl doing her own ironing to stay grounded and how they’re not alike in any way.
Cher talks about being introverted and shy as a person. But how she got used to performing, saying "there’s nobody my age on staging singing…at least wearing no clothes."
She talks about two great movie scripts that Covid curtailed, one to perform in and one to direct. Grrr.
Does she feel a kindred spirit to Katharine Hepburn? She feels women in those days had it harder with the studio system. “I didn’t fight at first. I learned how to fight.”
She talks about her favorite movies of Hepburn: The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen and putting her makeup on before concert performances to Desk Set and Pat and Mike. (I love Desk Set…it’s nerdy). Cher says there is something different about Hepburn that resonated with her. She could be sad or hysterically funny. She then talked about meeting Hepburn twice, once at the 1974 Oscar tribute to Spencer Tracy. Cher sat in a group of famous people and Hepburn passed them on the way to the stage and to Cher said “Hey kid.” And then Hepburn at one time wanted Cher to buy her house but Cher couldn’t afford it. And she once had a conversation with Hepburn in the office of a throat doctor they had in common. Her doctor set Cher up to meet Hepburn as a surprise. Cher was tongue tied.
They talked about Tweets and Cher defended her use of all caps and emojis. She talks about dyslexia and spelling and her good memory.
Her one word for Kate was two: my hero.
The ended on a pan of Cher’s award shelf! Grammys, Golden Globes, Emmys, Oscasrs. By this time the fundraiser has gone up to 103k.