Katharine Hepburn's last words: 'They're all dead - it's amazing'

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Katharine Hepburn spoke candidly of her "queer" feelings about outlasting her great Hollywood contemporaries in her last ever interview, published for the first time in today's Independent on Sunday.

The star, who died last week at the age of 96, told of the strange experience of living a quarter of a century beyond her long-time lover, Spencer Tracy, and more than 40 years beyond Humphrey Bogart, her co-star in The African Queen.

Hepburn, judged by many to be the greatest screen actress of all time, gave the interview in 1992, but it has never been published until now. In it, she is portrayed as a frail, sometimes cantankerous but always charismatic, figure who alternates between snappy remarks and lengthy, often revealing, answers.

Asked about the loss of her co-stars in the golden age of Hollywood, Hepburn says: "They're all dead. It's very queer. It's amazing how many of them have died, isn't it?" In comments that, at times, tread a thin line between and morbid reflection and black humour, she adds: "I think I've lived longer so that they have had lots of time to die! Ha! Ha!"

While Hepburn had a number of lovers she always steered clear of marriage or children. Of Tracy, with whom she had a 25-year affair, she wrote: "I would have done anything for him. We lived a life which he liked. This gave me great pleasure. The thought that it was pleasing him."

Asked if an ornamental goose on a shelf is the same one that appeared in a photograph with Tracy, she exclaims: "Yes and I gave it to him!"

The interview, published in full in The Sunday Review, also touches on Hepburn's relationship with her parents, who were political activists campaigning for women's rights and birth control. "They did a lot for the general public," she said, "to make the world an easier place to live in."