OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (AP) – State Rep. Pam Sawyer has an unusual dilemma – what to do with dozens of pastel and charcoal drawings of Katharine Hepburn.

The Bolton Republican inherited the drawings from Maine portrait artist Norman Andrews, who died in January at the age of 80. The pieces are in a portfolio and sketchbook that include some apparently drawn at the Oscar-winning actor’s home in Old Saybrook.

Sawyer barely knew Andrews, who lived in Boothbay, Maine.

That was also home to Ruth Potter, Sawyer’s godmother and first cousin once removed.

Andrews performed frequent acts of kindness for Potter, including giving her rides to the hospital when she suffered from leukemia in the last four years of her life. She was 14 years older than Andrews, and Sawyer believed Andrews may have been “a bit smitten” with her godmother.

“She’d had a gallery and was a kind of patron of the arts,” Sawyer told The Hartford Courant.

Andrews kept a modest apartment in East Boothbay and made a living doing portraits at fairs and other events. He was disheveled and ill-kempt, but “there was a kind of spirit to him,” Sawyer said.

When Potter died 12 years ago she had put her estate in a trust and Andrews received the interest – money he lived on along with the few portrait commissions he garnered until he died.

Sawyer met Andrews twice. One of those times was to sit, at her godmother’s insistence, for a portrait. She had not spoken to him since her godmother’s death, although the two exchanged Christmas cards.

“I was shocked,” said Sawyer of her inheritance.

Tuesday afternoon, Sawyer showed the drawings to Old Saybrook First Selectman Mike Pace and Selectwoman Velma Thomas, at the urging of fellow legislator Marilyn Giuliano.

Giuliano, R-Old Saybrook, had told Sawyer of her community’s plan to restore its town hall to the theater it once was with the hope it can be named The Katharine Hepburn Theater after Old Saybrook’s most famous resident.

Thomas already was picturing the theater entrance hall lined with Andrews’ skillful drawings, but Sawyer said she needs to get the art appraised and to determine if Hepburn’s family is interested in them.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” Sawyer said.

Most of the drawings appear to have been done from publicity stills, as they depict Hepburn, mainly from the shoulders up, posed in the garb and hairstyle of her various movies as far back as 1936.

Then there’s the series of charcoal sketches and a finished pastel drawing. These show a smiling Hepburn in 1977, according to the signed drawings, in front of her home in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook, with her hair caught up in a casual bun. She’s wearing a bulky wool poncho with a cowl neck. On the back of the pastel, Andrews wrote, Hepburn was wearing “the poncho I gave her for Christmas.” He also noted Hepburn had bought a watercolor painting Anderson had done of her house.

Hepburn’s sister, Margaret Perry, said Wednesday that she didn’t recall Hepburn mentioning Andrews nor did she remember any art by him on display in her sister’s home. But, she said, “I wasn’t in Fenwick that often so it’s certainly possible they could have known each other.”

There was no funeral at Andrews’ request and no mention of family although one East Boothbay resident, Pam Wilde, said she remembers him talking of relatives in North Carolina.

“He was a big man, kind of sloppy and infirm. He could hardly walk,” Wilde said. “His were good, especially of kids, but he never said he did any of anyone famous.”

AP-ES-03-25-04 0759EST



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.