In Leading Ladies, what does Leo (Maxine) mean when he says "Katharine Hepburn was born...with a knife in her teeth"?

Mr. Ludwig,

I am a student of theatre and I currently have the honor of performing
as Leo Clark in "Leading Ladies" this August for a local community
theatre. First off I believe this is an amazing show! I have one
question though. While I was studying theatre I was told never to say
a line unless you completely understand it's meaning, and I think that
was some of the best advice I ever received. While talking with Meg
during their first interaction Maxine says "Katharine Hepburn was born
in Cape Cod someplace with a knife in her teeth" I was wondering if
you could please help me out and explain that line to me. Keep up the
great work, I hope I get to work on many more of your plays!


Ken replies:

Dear Bruce,

Thanks very much for your email and for your kind words.

Katharine Hepburn was known for her distinctive sort-of wide-mouthed
aristocratic enunciation of words. In those days they would tell young
ladies striving to be like Hepburn to speak as though holding a knife
in their teeth.

I hope this helps. Best of the luck with the role! And thank you again for writing.

Best regards,


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