Here's Dustin Hoffman Telling a Story About Groping Katharine Ross During Their Graduate Screen Test

Early Wednesday morning, the Hollywood Reporter published a piece by Anna Graham Hunter in which she details a series of incidents that occurred in 1985 when she—then 17—was working on the set of the TV movie Death of a Salesman, starring Dustin Hoffman. Graham Hunter writes that Hoffman, 47 at the time, sexually harassed her both physically and verbally throughout the shoot:

This is a story I’ve told so often I’m sometimes surprised when someone I know hasn’t heard it. It begins, “Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed me when I was 17.” Then I give the details: When I was a senior in high school in New York City, interning as a production assistant on the set of the Death of a Salesman TV film, he asked me to give him a foot massage my first day on set; I did. He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me. One morning I went to his dressing room to take his breakfast order; he looked at me and grinned, taking his time. Then he said, “I’ll have a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled clitoris.” His entourage burst out laughing. I left, speechless. Then I went to the bathroom and cried.


In response to the piece, Hoffman—who’s spoken openly about the feminist awakening he had while making Tootsie, in 1982, (three years before the events Graham Hunter describes)—told THR:

I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.

Except it absolutely is reflective of who he is—or at least of who he was for a very long time. (Let’s not forget the story he proudly told Playboy about losing his virginity at 15 to a woman who mistook him for his 20-year-old brother in the dark, or the second time he lost his virginity—as told to New York Magazine—to a girl he lied to at the public library.)

While reading Graham Hunter’s piece and Hoffman’s subsequent response, I was reminded rather sharply of an interview that appears in the DVD commentary of The Graduate, a clip from 1992's The Graduate: One on One with Dustin Hoffman, in which Hoffman tells the story of his first screen test with Katharine Ross, the actor who played Elaine, and how he pinched her butt to “help loosen us up:”

I remember at one point, I pinched very gently Katharine’s right—probably her right buttocks as a way to help loosen us up. And I kind of patted her and gave her a little [pinch] and she turned on me and later we became friends, but at that moment, she just whirled on me and said, [Hoffman adopts rough, angry voice] “Don’t you ever do that to me again.” And suddenly everybody kind of heard it, the crew and wherever, and I just sat there and they didn’t know what was going on. She said, “How dare you?!” I said, “Sorry, sorry—[Hoffman laughs]—I was just trying to get us relaxed. [Interviewer and crew laughs in background.] Sorry.” And if it was bad up to then, it was gonna get worse after.

She later apologized. She said it was her own tension, too.

How nice of her to say sorry for not having a better sense of humor about Hoffman’s incredibly shitty behavior!

Cheers to another misogynist hiding in plain sight.

Managing Editor, Jezebel


He also made awful comments about Meryl Streep’s boyfriend, who had recently died of cancer, during Kramer vs. Kramer. All in the name of art, of course. After all, we can all see from her later career that she can’t possibly portray emotions like sadness or anger without having a male costar make her acting choices for her.