Yesterday I read portions of the late Slim Keith’s 1990 autobiography “Slim,” or more precisely the chapters that cover her marriage to legendary director Howard Hawks.
According to Slim HWH was a generous provider but not much of a husband. He was emotionally brusque. Aloof to a fault. He was mainly focused on his career, carousing, motorcycles, hunting, horses, gambling and always the company of his hotshot Hollywood friends.
The Grey Fox was distant and rote in matters of intimacy (wham-bam). He apparently liked the “idea” of Slim more than who she actually was. HWH mainly valued her as the ultimate “Hawks woman” archetype — a frank manner, social elegance, sophistication, brains and arm-candy glamour.
He completely ignored their daughter Kitty when she came along, and never nurtured any kind of relationship as she grew up.
HWH was a total hound, Slim claims. By ‘45 she had told Ernest Hemingway or Leland Hayward (or both) that she couldn’t stand him.
Plus he wasn’t that much of a pilot or a sailor, she says. (Sea-sickness, air-sickness.). And Hawks always exaggerated his stories.
When the split finally happened he accepted that they didn’t have much rapport. Their marriage was basically a dead shark during the filming of Red River.
Hawks should have married someone less willful and independent. They just weren’t a match
I never knew that their Hog Canyon ranch home (in Bel Air?) was a close copy of the Connecticut country home in Bringing Up Baby. But I love that it was.