Katharine Hepburn was one of the greatest American stage and screen stars of the 20th century, but above all else she was a Connecticut Yankee.

Born in Hartford in 1907, Hepburn had a home in Old Saybrook throughout the star’s long career in Hollywood and on Broadway, and that’s where she died on June 29, 2003.

In the mid-1950s, the performer made the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford one of the hottest venues in the country when she agreed to spend two summers there in “Much Ado About Nothing,” “As You Like It” and other plays by the Bard.

Ann Nyberg’s new book, “Remembering Katharine Hepburn” (Globe Pequot), focuses on the Connecticut aspects of Hepburn’s life and career, with fresh tales told by people who knew the actress as a neighbor, rather than a legend.

“People went to their graves protecting her in Old Saybrook, but over the years I started getting these stories,” the anchor/reporter for WTNH-TV in New Haven says.

In her role as a TV journalist, Nyberg sought an interview with Hepburn decades ago. A mutual friend got Nyberg a phone number from the actress’ brother, Bob, but the star gave the reporter a polite turn-down, saying she knew the WTNH lighting wouldn’t be up to her standards.

Without ever imagining she’d write a book, Nyberg collected material on Hepburn that eventually ended up in “A Star Among Us,” a documentary produced by the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook.

The author admits she was anxious when first approached by Globe Pequot. “What could I possibly add? She was the most iconic actress, and so many other books have been written about her,” she says.

Nyberg’s editor at the publishing company knew the journalist had been poking around Old Saybrook for years to learn all she could about Hepburn. “I was scared,” Nyberg says, adding she finally realized she might be able “to tell the story behind the story” in a series of down-to-earth anecdotes about Hepburn’s quiet life away from show business.

The book begins with one of the most dramatic periods in the star’s Connecticut life, the great hurricane of 1938 that wrecked the house in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook, but not the indomitable actress, who decided to ride out the storm a stone’s throw from Long Island Sound.

“Some of the summer residents had left behind a few servants to close up their homes for the winter,” Nyberg writes. “When the worst had passed, Katharine gathered up the frightened domestics and took them to the closed River Sea Inn for the night. Candles provided the only light. Just as she settled down, she had the good sense to see that every candle had been extinguished. Sure enough in the hall she found one about to topple over that might have set the whole place on fire.”

One of the reasons why Hepburn was on the Connecticut coast when disaster struck was because her movie career was in shambles. After a fast start in the early 1930s, the actress had a series of flops that resulted in her being labeled “box office poison” by a trade paper.

In the weeks leading up to the hurricane, Hepburn was in negotiations for the project that would turn her career around — the Philip Barry play, “The Philadelphia Story.” The show was a big hit on Broadway and the star locked up the screen rights, so MGM was forced to use her in the 1940 movie version. The result was a box office smash that put Hepburn back on track for the next five decades.

Nyberg’s book shows us a woman who would give neighbors lifts in her car and shop at all the local merchants, and would share her thoughts with those who were lucky enough to spend time with her. But woe to anyone who showed up uninvited, ignoring the “Please go away” sign the star had posted at the entrance to her property.

Old Saybrook native Viola Tagliatela was dating a theater student whose director/teacher Word Baker would often stay in Fenwick. “Tagliatela found the actress to be very pleasant and insightful, often taking the time to chat with her. She marveled that Hepburn put up with so many teenagers together in one house with all the noise they made and their comings and goings,” Nyberg writes.

Decades later Taglietela remembered Hepburn giving her an impromptu lesson in flower arranging when she saw the actor working with some flowers in the kitchen. She told Taglietela it was more practical and thrifty to make meals for herself at home than to go out to a restaurant. “If you all want to go out, give me the money you would spend,” Hepburn said, “or go out and get the groceries and I will cook the dinner.”

Connecticut friends and neighbors got to see Hepburn’s more-sensitive, reclusive side.

“She was vulnerable and she showed herself to very few people,” Nyberg says. “You can read between the lines that one of the reasons she never showed up for any of her Academy Awards was that she was afraid she’d lose.”

jmeyers@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @joesview