Katharine Hepburn
Actor
Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Houghton Hepburn was an American actress of film, stage, and television. Known for her headstrong independence and spirited personality, Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned more than 60 years. Her work came in a range of genres, from screwball comedy to literary drama, and she received four Academy Awards for Best Actress—a record for any performer. Hepburn's characters were often strong, sophisticated women with a hidden vulnerability.
Biography
Katharine Hepburn's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Katharine Hepburn
News
News abour Katharine Hepburn from around the web
The new tomboy - The Guardian (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
But it's a trend that's more Katharine Hepburn in slacks than scuffed knees and dirty plimsolls. Imogen Fox takes you through the look, while Tomboy Style blog editor Lizzie Garrett Mettler explains the legacy behind it Katharine Hepburn and Lauren
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Lady Gaga to create a fashion range with little sister - Sugarscape
Google News - over 5 years
A source told the mag: “Gaga came up with the idea of remodelling the styles of classic icons from the past, for example Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Katharine Hepburn. “Natali loved the idea and she's coming up with a slew of design options but,
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Writer finally helms his Oscar winner on NH stage - The Associated Press
Google News - over 5 years
The 1981 movie that netted Oscars for Thompson and lead actors Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda was the second-highest grossing movie that year, behind "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and ahead of "Superman 2" and "Cannonball Run
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Katharine Hepburn's Fenwick Estate - Hartford Courant (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
A panorama photograph made from six photos stitched together show the expanse of the home as it sits on the edge of Long Island Sound in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook. The Fenwick home built by Katherine Hepburn is for sale
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$ 28 million for the villa for sale by Katharine Hepburn - KUsports (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The beautiful villa belonged to Katharine Hepburn, coach handbags Old Saybrook to coach handbags New England, is now sale for a total of $ 28 million. In addition to being a property of great prestige of the house is built by Parents of the diva coach
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Reviving play and Katharine Hepburn is big success for In Tandem - OnMilwaukee.com
Google News - over 5 years
Angela Iannone plays Katharine Hepburn in her 70s in the second act of "Tea at Five" for In Tandem Theatre. It takes a brave actress to play Katharine Hepburn on stage. Hepburn's piquant personality was so strong, our memories of it
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Can't afford Katharine Hepburn's estate? You can also buy just the house - HeraldNet
Google News - over 5 years
Katharine Hepburn's former home on Connecticut's Long Island Sound is up for sale. Owners have updated the house by combining rooms to create larger and more open spaces. The house had 21 rooms and nine bathrooms but has been reduced to 15 rooms and 7
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Angela Iannone peels Katharine Hepburn's layers - ThirdCoast Digest
Google News - over 5 years
Katharine Hepburn, like many movie actors of her day, almost always played some version of herself. When was a Hepburn character not assertive, frank, formidable, intelligent, volatile, and endowed with a peculiar and instantly
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Katharine Hepburn's house gets extreme makeover for sale - Kansas City Star
Google News - over 5 years
Yes, it is the Hepburn estate. And yet, it isn't. It's someone else's house not only by title, but by feel. A massive, multi-million dollar renovation pushed the limits of an extreme makeover of the 8300-square-foot house,
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Movies This Week: Harry Potter and the Blustery Day - Slackerwood
Google News - over 5 years
If none of the new movies are grabbing you, head over to the Paramount, where they're showing a Katharine Hepburn double feature of The African Queen and the underrated and delightful Holiday, Tuesday through Thursday. Or perhaps you'd prefer The
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Katharine Hepburn Connecticut Property on Sale for US$28 Million - SBWire (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
The home of movie star Katharine Hepburn is for sale at US$28 million. Current owners The Sciame's bought the property for US$6 million after Hepburn's death in 2003. Singapore -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/13/2011 -- The former home of legendary film star
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Legendary $28M mansion for sale - Ct Post
Google News - over 5 years
Located in Old Saybrook, CT, Katharine Hepburn's majestic former residence is on the market for $28M. The actress designed and constructed the home in 1939, and lived there until her death in 2003. Click through the slideshow to learn more about the
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Katharine Hepburn's Beloved Summer Home for Sale - CBS MoneyWatch.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Katharine Hepburn, one of America's first ladies of the silver screen and a cultural icon, lived in the public eye in many ways. Her romances with Howard Hughes and a long-time partnership with actor Spencer Tracy were
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Events in Connecticut - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
OLD SAYBROOK The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center “The Dining Room,” comedy by AR Gurney, presented by the Saybrook Stage Company. Thursday through July 10. $15 and $20. The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main Street
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Looking back - Katharine Hepburn at home in Fenwick - Shoreline Times
Google News - over 5 years
Situated at the mouth of the Connecticut River and overlooking Long Island Sound, Fenwick was Katharine Hepburn's sanctuary and the place she called “paradise.” From the age of 5 this was the place of her summer home and later her year-round getaway
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Katharine Hepburn's former family estate for sale - CBS News
Google News - almost 6 years
(CBS) - The sprawling Connecticut estate that screen legend Katharine Hepburn called home for many years until her death in 2003 is up for sale. Constructed in 1913, the waterfront home is situated off the Long Island Sound estuary in the Fenwick
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KATHARINE HEPBURN HOUSE: Old Saybrook estate for sale: $28M - Shoreline Times
Google News - almost 6 years
Katharine Hepburn called her family summer home, located in the posh borough of Fenwick in Old Saybrook, “paradise.” From its shore, she swam in the Sound nearly every day (up into her 80s), even when the beach was covered in
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Katherine Hepburn: Grand Dame's Grand Estate for Sale (photos) - TheImproper.com
Google News - almost 6 years
By TheImproper, June 24th, 2011 Katharine Hepburn's sprawling estate in Connecticut, a symbol of the grand life the four-time Oscar winner lived, is on the market for a mere $18 million. Her family bought the property in 1913, and she lived out her ... -
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Katharine Hepburn
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2003
    Age 95
    After a period of inactivity and ill health, Hepburn died in 2003 at the age of 96.
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn famously shunned the Hollywood publicity machine and refused to conform to society's expectations of women. She was outspoken, assertive, athletic, and wore trousers before it was fashionable for women to do so. She married once, as a young woman, but thereafter lived independently. A 26-year affair with her co-star Spencer Tracy was hidden from the public. With her unconventional lifestyle and the independent characters she brought to the screen, Hepburn epitomized the "modern woman" in the 20th-century United States and is remembered as an important cultural figure.
    After Hepburn's death in 2003, the intersection of East 49th Street and 2nd Avenue was renamed "Katharine Hepburn Place".
    More Details Hide Details Three years later Bryn Mawr College, Hepburn's alma mater, launched the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center. It is dedicated to both the actress and her mother, and encourages women to address important issues affecting their gender. The center awards the annual Katharine Hepburn Medal, which "recognizes women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress". The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center was opened in 2009 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, the location of the Hepburn family beach home which she loved and later owned. The building includes a performance space and a Katharine Hepburn museum. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library and the New York Public Library hold collections of Hepburn's personal papers. Selections from the New York collection, which documents Hepburn's theatrical career, were presented in a five-month exhibition, Katharine Hepburn: In Her Own Files, in 2009. Other exhibitions have been held to showcase Hepburn's career. One Life: Kate, A Centennial Celebration was held at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington from November 2007 to September 2008. Kent State University exhibited a selection of her film and theatre costumes from October 2010 to September 2011 in Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen. Hepburn has also been honored with her own postal stamp as part of the "Legends of Hollywood" stamp series. In 2015, the British Film Institute held a two-month retrospective of Hepburn's work.
    In honor of her extensive theatre work, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for the evening of July 1, 2003.
    More Details Hide Details In 2004, in accordance with Hepburn's wishes, her belongings were put up for auction with Sotheby's in New York City. The event garnered $5.8 million, which Hepburn willed to her family. According to reports, Hepburn was not an instinctive actor. She liked to study the text and character carefully beforehand, making sure she knew them thoroughly, and then to rehearse as much as possible and film multiple takes of a scene. With a genuine passion for the industry she committed heavily to each role and insisted on learning any necessary skills and performing stunts herself. She was known to learn not only her own lines but also those of her costars. Commenting on her motivation, Stanley Kramer said, "Work, work, work. She can work till everyone drops." Hepburn involved herself in the production of each of her films, making suggestions for the script and stating her opinion on everything from costumes to lighting to camerawork.
    The decision was made not to medically intervene, and she died on June 29, 2003, at the Hepburn family home in Fenwick, Connecticut.
    More Details Hide Details She was 96 years old and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford. Hepburn requested that there be no memorial service. Hepburn's death received considerable public attention. Many tributes were held on television, and newspapers and magazines dedicated issues to the actress. American president George W. Bush said Hepburn "will be remembered as one of the nation's artistic treasures."
    In May 2003, an aggressive tumor was found in Hepburn's neck.
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  • 1997
    Age 89
    By 1997, she had become very weak, was speaking and eating very little, and it was feared she would die.
    More Details Hide Details She showed signs of dementia in her final years.
  • 1996
    Age 88
    Hepburn stated in her eighties, "I have no fear of death. Must be wonderful, like a long sleep." Her health began to deteriorate not long after her final screen appearance. In the winter of 1996, she was hospitalized with pneumonia.
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  • 1993
    Age 85
    The actress led an active private life, reportedly swimming and playing tennis every morning. In her eighties she was still playing tennis regularly, as indicated in her 1993 documentary All About Me.
    More Details Hide Details She also enjoyed painting, which became a passion later in life. When questioned about politics, Hepburn told an interviewer, "I always just say be on the affirmative and liberal side. Don't be a 'no' person." The anti-communist attitude in 1940s Hollywood prompted her to political activity, as she joined the Committee for the First Amendment. Her name was mentioned at the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee but Hepburn denied being a communist sympathizer. Later in life, she openly promoted birth control and supported abortion. She practiced Albert Schweitzer's theory of "Reverence for Life", but did not believe in religion or the afterlife. In 1991, Hepburn told a journalist, "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people." Her public declarations of these beliefs led the American Humanist Association to award her the Humanist Arts Award in 1985.
  • 1992
    Age 84
    She returned to television screens in 1992 for The Man Upstairs, co-starring Ryan O'Neal, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.
    More Details Hide Details In 1994 she worked opposite Anthony Quinn in This Can't Be Love, which was largely based on Hepburn's own life, with numerous references to her personality and career. These later roles have been described as "a fictional version of the typically feisty Kate Hepburn character" and critics have remarked that Hepburn was essentially playing herself. Hepburn's final appearance in a theatrically released film, and her first since Grace Quigley ten years earlier, was Love Affair (1994). At 86 years old, she played a supporting role alongside Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. It was the only film of Hepburn's career, other than the cameo appearance in Stage Door Canteen, in which she did not play a leading role. Roger Ebert noted that it was the first time she had looked frail, but that the "magnificent spirit" was still there and said her scenes "steal the show". The New York Times made similar observations as they reflected on the actress's final big-screen appearance, stating that "if she moved more slowly than before, in demeanor she was as game and modern as she had ever been". Hepburn filmed one final role in the television movie One Christmas (1994), for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination at 87 years old.
  • 1991
    Age 83
    In 1991, Hepburn released her autobiography, Me: Stories of my Life, which topped best-seller lists for over a year.
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    It was not until her 1991 autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, that Hepburn revealed her true birth date.
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  • 1986
    Age 78
    She received an Emmy nomination for 1986's Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry, then two years later returned for the comedy Laura Lansing Slept Here, which allowed her to act with her grandniece, Schuyler Grant.
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  • 1985
    Age 77
    In 1985, she presented a television documentary about the life and career of Spencer Tracy.
    More Details Hide Details The majority of Hepburn's roles from this point were in television movies, which did not receive the critical praise of her earlier work in the medium but remained popular with audiences. With each release, Hepburn would declare it her final screen appearance, but she continued to take on new roles.
  • 1984
    Age 76
    In 1984, Hepburn starred in the dark-comedy Grace Quigley, the story of an elderly woman who enlists a hitman (Nick Nolte) to kill her.
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn found humor in the morbid theme, but reviews were negative and the box-office was poor.
  • 1981
    Age 73
    Hepburn also returned to the stage in 1981.
    More Details Hide Details She received a second Tony nomination for her portrayal in The West Side Waltz of a septuagenarian widow with a zest for life. Variety observed that the role was "an obvious and entirely acceptable version of Hepburn's own public image." Walter Kerr of The New York Times wrote of Hepburn and her performance, "One mysterious thing she has learned to do is breathe unchallengeable life into lifeless lines." She hoped to make a film out of the production, but nobody purchased the rights. Hepburn's reputation as one of America's best loved actors was firmly established by this point, as she was named favorite movie actress in a survey by People magazine and again won the popularity award from People's Choice.
  • 1978
    Age 70
    After three years away from the screen, Hepburn starred in the 1978 film Olly Olly Oxen Free.
    More Details Hide Details The adventure comedy was one of the biggest failures of her career—the screenwriter James Prideaux, who worked with Hepburn, later wrote that it "died at the moment of release" and referred to it as her "lost film". Hepburn claimed the main reason she had done it was the opportunity to ride in a hot-air balloon. The television movie The Corn Is Green (1979), which was filmed in Wales, followed. It was the last of ten films Hepburn made with George Cukor, and gained her a third Emmy nomination. By the 1980s, Hepburn had developed a noticeable tremor, giving her a permanently shaking head. She did not work for two years, saying in a television interview, "I've had my day—let the kids scramble and sweat it out." During this period she saw the Broadway production of On Golden Pond, and was impressed by its depiction of an elderly married couple coping with the difficulties of old age. Jane Fonda had purchased the screen rights for her father, actor Henry Fonda, and Hepburn sought to play opposite him in the role of quirky Ethel Thayer. On Golden Pond was a success, the second-highest grossing film of 1981. It demonstrated how energetic the 74-year-old Hepburn was, as she dived fully clothed into Squam Lake and gave a lively singing performance. The movie won her a second BAFTA and a record fourth Academy Award. Homer Dickens, in his book on Hepburn, notes that it was widely considered a sentimental win, "a tribute to her enduring career."
  • 1976
    Age 68
    In 1976, Hepburn returned to Broadway for a three-month run of Enid Bagnold's play A Matter of Gravity.
    More Details Hide Details The role of eccentric Mrs. Basil was deemed a perfect showcase for the actress, and the play was popular despite poor reviews. It later went on a successful nationwide tour. During its Los Angeles run, Hepburn fractured her hip, but she chose to continue the tour performing in a wheelchair. That year, she was voted "Favorite Motion Picture Actress" by the People's Choice Awards.
  • 1974
    Age 66
    Hepburn made her only appearance at the Academy Awards in 1974, to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to Lawrence Weingarten.
    More Details Hide Details She received a standing ovation, and joked with the audience, "I'm very happy I didn't hear anyone call out 'It's about time'." The following year, she was paired with John Wayne in the western Rooster Cogburn, a sequel to his Oscar-winning film True Grit. Echoing her African Queen character, Hepburn again played a deeply religious spinster who teams up with a masculine loner to avenge a family member's death. The movie received mediocre reviews. Its casting was enough to draw some people to the box office, but it did not meet studio expectations and was only moderately successful.
  • 1973
    Age 65
    In 1973, Hepburn ventured into television for the first time, starring in a production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.
    More Details Hide Details She had been wary of the medium but it proved to be one of the main television events of the year, scoring high in the Nielsen ratings. Hepburn received an Emmy Award nomination for playing wistful Southern mother Amanda Wingfield, which opened her mind to future work on the small screen. Her next project was the television movie Love Among the Ruins (1975), a London-based Edwardian drama with her friend Laurence Olivier. It received positive reviews and high ratings, and earned Hepburn her only Emmy Award.
  • 1971
    Age 63
    In 1971 she signed on to star in an adaptation of Graham Greene's Travels with My Aunt, but was unhappy with early versions of the script and took to rewriting it herself.
    More Details Hide Details The studio disliked her changes, so Hepburn abandoned the project and was replaced with Maggie Smith. Her next film, an adaptation of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (1973) directed by Tony Richardson, had a small release and received generally unfavorable reviews.
  • 1969
    Age 61
    From December 1969 to August 1970, Hepburn starred in the Broadway musical Coco, about the life of Coco Chanel.
    More Details Hide Details She admitted that before the show, she had never sat through a theatrical musical. She was not a strong singer, but found the offer irresistible and, as Berg puts it, "what she lacked in euphony she made up for in guts". The actress took vocal lessons six times a week in preparation for the show. She was nervous about every performance, and recalled "wondering what the hell I was doing there." Reviews for the production were mediocre, but Hepburn herself was praised and Coco was popular with the public—with its run twice extended. She later said Coco marked the first time she accepted that the public was not against her, but actually seemed to love her. Her work earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Hepburn stayed active throughout the 1970s, focusing on roles described by Andrew Britton as "either a devouring mother or a batty old lady living alone". First she traveled to Spain to film a version of Euripides' The Trojan Women (1971) alongside Vanessa Redgrave. When asked why she had taken the role, she responded that she wanted to broaden her range and try everything while she still had time. The movie was poorly received, but the Kansas City Film Critics Circle named Hepburn's performance the best from an actress that year.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1967
    Age 59
    Following the completion of Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hepburn took a break in her career to care for ailing Spencer Tracy. She did not work again until 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, her ninth film with Tracy.
    More Details Hide Details The movie dealt with the subject of interracial marriage, with Hepburn's niece, Katharine Houghton, playing her daughter. Tracy was dying by this point, suffering the effects of heart disease, and Houghton later commented that her aunt was "extremely tense" during the production. Tracy died 17 days after filming his last scene. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was a triumphant return for Hepburn and her most commercially successful picture to that point. She won her second Best Actress Award at the Oscars, 34 years after winning her first. Hepburn felt the award was not just for her, but was also given to honor Tracy. Hepburn quickly returned to acting after Tracy's death, choosing to preoccupy herself as a remedy against grief. She received numerous scripts and chose to play Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter (1968), a part she called "fascinating". She read extensively in preparation for the role, in which she starred opposite Peter O'Toole. Filming took place in Montmajour Abbey in the south of France, an experience she loved despite being—according to director Anthony Harvey—"enormously vulnerable" throughout. John Russell Taylor of The Times suggested that Eleanor was "the performance of her... career", and proved that she was "a growing, developing, still surprising actress". The movie was nominated in all the major categories at the Academy Awards, and for the second year running Hepburn won the Oscar for Best Actress (shared with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl).
  • 1960
    Age 52
    Hepburn returned to Stratford in the summer of 1960 to play Viola in Twelfth Night and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra.
    More Details Hide Details The New York Post wrote of her Cleopatra, "Hepburn offers a highly versatile performance... once or twice going in for her famous mannerisms and always being fascinating to watch." Hepburn herself was proud of the role. Her repertoire was further improved when she appeared in Sidney Lumet's film version of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962). It was a low-budget production, and she appeared in the film for a tenth of her established salary. She called it "the greatest play this country has ever produced" and the role of morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone "the most challenging female role in American drama", and felt her performance was the best screen work of her career. Long Day's Journey Into Night earned Hepburn an Oscar nomination and the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. It remains one of her most praised performances.
  • FORTIES
  • 1952
    Age 44
    In the summer of 1952, Hepburn appeared in London's West End for a ten-week run of George Bernard Shaw's The Millionairess.
    More Details Hide Details Her parents had read Shaw to her when she was a child, which made the play a special experience for the actress. Two years of intense work had left her exhausted, however, and her friend Constance Collier wrote that Hepburn was "on the verge of a nervous breakdown". Widely acclaimed, The Millionairess was brought to Broadway. In October 1952 it opened at the Shubert Theatre, where despite a lukewarm critical response it sold out its ten-week run. Hepburn subsequently tried to get the play adapted into a film: a script was written by Preston Sturges, and she offered to work for nothing and pay the director herself, but no studio picked up the project. She later referred to this as the biggest disappointment of her career. Pat and Mike was the last film Hepburn completed on her MGM contract, making her free to select her own projects. She spent two years resting and traveling, before committing to David Lean's romantic drama Summertime (1955). The movie was filmed in Venice, with Hepburn playing a lonely spinster who has a passionate love affair. She described it as "a very emotional part" and found it fascinating to work with Lean. At her own insistence, Hepburn performed a fall into a canal and developed a chronic eye infection as a result. The role earned her another Academy Award nomination and has been cited as some of her finest work.
  • 1951
    Age 43
    The movie was released at the end of 1951 to popular support and critical acclaim, and gave Hepburn her fifth Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards.
    More Details Hide Details The first successful film she had made without Tracy since The Philadelphia Story a decade earlier, it proved that she could be a hit without him and fully reestablished her popularity. Hepburn went on to make the sports comedy Pat and Mike (1952), the second film written specifically as a Tracy–Hepburn vehicle by Kanin and Gordon. She was a keen athlete, and Kanin later described this as his inspiration for the film: "As I watched Kate playing tennis one day... it occurred to me that her audience was missing a treat." Hepburn was under pressure to perform several sports to a high standard, many of which did not end up in the film. Pat and Mike was one of the team's most popular and critically acclaimed films, and it was also Hepburn's personal favorite of the nine films she made with Tracy. The performance brought her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
    In 1951, Hepburn filmed The African Queen, her first movie in Technicolor.
    More Details Hide Details She played Rose Sayer, a prim spinster missionary living in German East Africa at the outbreak of World War I. Costarring Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen was shot mostly on location in the Belgian Congo, an opportunity Hepburn embraced. It proved a difficult experience, however, and Hepburn became ill with dysentery during filming. Later in life, she released a memoir about the experience.
  • 1950
    Age 42
    In January 1950, Hepburn ventured into Shakespeare, playing Rosalind in As You Like It.
    More Details Hide Details She hoped to prove that she could play already established material, and said, "It's better to try something difficult and flop than to play it safe all the time." It opened at the Cort Theatre in New York to a capacity audience, and was virtually sold out for 148 shows. The production then went on tour. Reviews for Hepburn varied, but she was noted as the only leading-lady in Hollywood who was performing high-caliber material onstage.
  • 1949
    Age 41
    Tracy and Hepburn appeared onscreen together for a third consecutive year in the 1949 film Adam's Rib.
    More Details Hide Details Like Woman of the Year, it was a "battle of the sexes" comedy and was written specifically for the duo by their friends Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. A story of married lawyers who oppose each other in court, Hepburn described it as "perfect for Tracy and me". Although her political views still prompted scattered picketing at theatres around the country, Adam's Rib was a hit, favorably reviewed and the most profitable Tracy–Hepburn picture to date. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was full of praise for the film and hailed the duo's "perfect compatibility". The 1950s saw Hepburn take on a series of professional challenges, and stretch herself further than at any other point in her life at an age when most other actresses began to retreat. Berg describes the decade as "the heart of her vast legacy" and "the period in which she truly came into her own."
  • THIRTIES
  • 1945
    Age 37
    Without Love received poor reviews, but a new Tracy–Hepburn picture was a big event and it was popular on release, selling a record number of tickets over Easter-weekend 1945.
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn's next film was Undercurrent (1946), a film noir with Robert Taylor and Robert Mitchum that was poorly received. A fourth film with Tracy came in 1947: a drama set in the American Old West entitled The Sea of Grass. Similarly to Keeper of the Flame and Without Love, a lukewarm response from critics did not stop it from being a financial success both at home and abroad. The same year, Hepburn portrayed Clara Wieck Schumann in Song of Love. She trained intensively with a pianist for the role. By the time of its release in October, Hepburn's career had been significantly affected by her public opposition to the growing anti-communist movement in Hollywood. Viewed by some as dangerously progressive, she was not offered work for nine months and people reportedly threw things at screenings of Song of Love. Her next film role came unexpectedly, as she agreed to replace Claudette Colbert only days before shooting began on Frank Capra's political drama State of the Union (1948). Tracy had long been signed to play the male lead, and so Hepburn was already familiar with the script and stepped up for the fifth Tracy–Hepburn picture. Critics responded positively to the film and it performed well at the box-office.
  • 1944
    Age 36
    She took an atypical role in 1944, playing a Chinese peasant in the high-budget drama Dragon Seed.
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn was enthusiastic about the film, but it met with a tepid response and she was described as miscast. She then reunited with Tracy for the film version of Without Love (1945), after which she turned down a role in The Razor's Edge to support Tracy through his return to Broadway.
  • 1943
    Age 35
    Her only appearance in 1943 was a cameo in the morale-building wartime film Stage Door Canteen, playing herself.
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  • 1942
    Age 34
    In 1942, Hepburn returned to Broadway to appear in another Philip Barry play, Without Love, which was also written with the actress in mind.
    More Details Hide Details Critics were unenthusiastic about the production but with Hepburn's popularity at a high it ran for 16 sold-out weeks. MGM was eager to reunite Tracy and Hepburn for a new picture, and settled on Keeper of the Flame (1942). A dark mystery with a propaganda message on the dangers of fascism, the film was seen by Hepburn as an opportunity to make a worthy political statement. It received poor notices but was a financial success, confirming the popularity of the Tracy–Hepburn pairing. Since Woman of the Year, Hepburn had committed to a romantic relationship with Tracy and dedicated herself to helping the star, who suffered from alcoholism and insomnia. Her career slowed as a result, and she worked less for the remainder of the decade than she had done in the 1930s—notably by not appearing on-stage again until 1950.
  • 1941
    Age 33
    Hepburn was also responsible for the development of her next project, the romantic comedy Woman of the Year about a political journalist and sports journalist whose relationship is challenged by her independence. The idea for the film was proposed to her by Garson Kanin in 1941, who recalled how Hepburn contributed to the script.
    More Details Hide Details She presented the finished product to MGM and demanded $250,000—half for her, half for the authors. Her terms accepted, Hepburn was also given the director and co-star of her choice, George Stevens and Spencer Tracy. Released in 1942, Woman of the Year was another success. Critics praised the chemistry between the stars, and, says Higham, noted Hepburn's "increasing maturity and polish". The World-Telegram commended two "brilliant performances", and Hepburn received a fourth Academy Award nomination. During the course of the movie, Hepburn signed a star contract with MGM.
  • 1938
    Age 30
    Hepburn is the subject of a one-woman play, Tea at Five, written by Matthew Lombardo. The first act features Hepburn in 1938, after being labeled "box office poison", and the second act in 1983, where she reflects on her life and career.
    More Details Hide Details It was first performed in 2002 at the Hartford Stage. Hepburn has been portrayed in Tea at Five by Kate Mulgrew, Tovah Feldshuh, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Charles Busch. Feldshuh also appeared as Hepburn in The Amazing Howard Hughes, a 1977 television movie, while Mearle Ann Taylor later portrayed her in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980). In Martin Scorsese's 2004 biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator, Hepburn was portrayed by Cate Blanchett, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. This marked the first instance where the portrayal of an Academy Award-winning actress was turned into an Academy Award-winning role. In 2014, two Hepburn biopics were announced to be in development. The first deals with her relationship with Spencer Tracy, and the second covers her early years in Hollywood (based on William Mann's account).
    They separated in 1938, when Hepburn left Hollywood after being labeled "box office poison".
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn stuck to her decision not to remarry, and made a conscious choice not to have children. She believed that motherhood should be a full-time commitment, and said it was not one she was willing to make. "I would have been a terrible mother," she told Berg, "because I'm basically a very selfish human being." She felt she had partially experienced parenthood through her much younger siblings, which fulfilled any need to have children of her own. Rumors have existed since the 1930s that Hepburn may have been a lesbian or bisexual, which she often joked about. In 2007, William J. Mann released a biography of the actress in which he argued this was the case. In response to this speculation about her aunt, Katharine Houghton said, "I've never discovered any evidence whatsoever that she was a lesbian." The most significant relationship of Hepburn's life was with Spencer Tracy, her co-star in nine films. In her autobiography she wrote, "It was a unique feeling that I had for Tracy. I would have done anything for him." Lauren Bacall, a close friend, later wrote of how "blindingly" in love Hepburn was with the actor. The relationship has subsequently received much publicity, and it is often cited as one of Hollywood's legendary love affairs. Meeting when she was 34 and he was 41, Tracy was initially wary of Hepburn, unimpressed by her dirty fingernails and suspecting that she was a lesbian, but Hepburn said she "knew right away that I found him irresistible."
  • TWENTIES
  • 1936
    Age 28
    In 1936, while she was touring Jane Eyre, Hepburn began a relationship with entrepreneur Howard Hughes.
    More Details Hide Details She had been introduced to him a year earlier by their mutual friend Cary Grant. Hughes wished to marry her, and the tabloids reported their impending nuptials, but Hepburn was too focused on resurrecting her failing career.
    Towards the end of 1936, Hepburn vied for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.
    More Details Hide Details Producer David O. Selznick refused to offer her the part because he felt she had no sex appeal. He reportedly told Hepburn, "I can't see Rhett Butler chasing you for twelve years." Hepburn's next feature, Stage Door (1937), paired her with Ginger Rogers in a role which mirrored her own life—that of a wealthy society girl trying to make it as an actress. Hepburn was praised for her work at early previews, which gave her top billing over Rogers. The film was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but it was not the box-office hit RKO had hoped for. Industry pundits blamed Hepburn for the small profit, but the studio continued its commitment to resurrecting her popularity. She was cast in Howard Hawks' screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938), where she played a flighty heiress who loses a leopard while trying to woo a palaeontologist (Cary Grant). She approached the physical comedy of the film with confidence, and took tips on comedic timing from her costar Walter Catlett. Bringing Up Baby was acclaimed by critics, but it was nevertheless unsuccessful at the box office. With the genre and Grant both hugely popular at the time, biographer A. Scott Berg believes the blame lay with moviegoers' rejection of Hepburn.
  • 1933
    Age 25
    It opened at the Martin Beck Theatre on December 26, 1933, and Hepburn was roundly panned by the critics.
    More Details Hide Details Dorothy Parker quipped, "She runs the gamut of emotions all the way from A to B." Already tied to a ten-week contract, she had to endure the embarrassment of rapidly declining box office sales. Harris decided to take the show to Chicago, saying to Hepburn, "My dear, the only interest I have in you is the money I can make out of you." Hepburn refused, and paid Harris $14,000 to close the production instead. She later referred to Harris as "hands-down the most diabolical person I have ever met", and claimed this experience was important in teaching her to take responsibility for her career. After the failure of Spitfire and The Lake, RKO cast Hepburn in The Little Minister (1934), based on a Victorian novel by James Barrie, in an attempt to repeat the success of Little Women. There was no such recurrence, and the picture was a commercial failure. The romantic drama Break of Hearts (1935) with Charles Boyer was poorly reviewed and also lost money. After three forgettable films, success returned to Hepburn with Alice Adams (1935), the story of a girl's desperation to climb the social ladder. Hepburn loved the book and was delighted to be offered the role. The film was a hit, one of Hepburn's personal favorites, and gave the actress her second Oscar nomination. She received the second most votes, after winner Bette Davis.
    By the end of 1933 Hepburn was a respected film actress, but she yearned to prove herself on Broadway.
    More Details Hide Details Jed Harris, one of the most successful theatre producers of the 1920s, was going through a career slump. He asked Hepburn to appear in the play The Lake, which she agreed to do for a low salary. Before she was given leave, RKO asked that she film Spitfire (1934). Hepburn's role in the movie was Trigger Hicks, an uneducated mountain girl. It is widely considered one of her worst films, and Hepburn received poor reviews for the effort. She kept a picture of Hicks in her bedroom throughout her life to "keep me humble." The Lake previewed in Washington, D.C., where there was a large advance sale. Harris's poor direction had eroded Hepburn's confidence, and she struggled with the performance. Despite this, Harris moved the play to New York without further rehearsal.
  • 1932
    Age 24
    The move to Hollywood in 1932 cemented the couple's estrangement, and in 1934, she traveled to Mexico to get a quick divorce.
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn often expressed her gratitude toward Smith for his financial and moral support in the early days of her career, and in her autobiography called herself "a terrible pig" for exploiting his love. The pair remained friends until his death in 1979. Soon after moving to California, Hepburn began a relationship with her agent, Leland Hayward, although they were both married. Hayward proposed to the actress once they had each divorced but she declined, later explaining, "I liked the idea of being my own single self." They were involved for four years.
    Hepburn arrived in California in July 1932, at 25 years old.
    More Details Hide Details She starred in A Bill of Divorcement opposite John Barrymore, but showed no sign of intimidation. Although she struggled to adapt to the nature of film acting, Hepburn was fascinated by the industry from the start. The picture was a success and Hepburn received positive reviews. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times called her performance "exceptionally fine... Miss Hepburn's characterization is one of the finest seen on the screen". The Variety review declared, "Standout here is the smash impression made by Katharine Hepburn in her first picture assignment. She has a vital something that sets her apart from the picture galaxy." On the strength of A Bill of Divorcement, RKO signed the actress to a long-term contract. George Cukor became a lifetime friend and colleague—he and Hepburn made ten films together. Hepburn's second film was Christopher Strong (1933), the story of an aviator and her affair with a married man. The picture was not commercially successful, but Hepburn's reviews were good. Regina Crewe wrote in the Journal American that although her mannerisms were grating, "they compel attention, and they fascinate an audience. She is a distinct, definite, positive personality." Hepburn's third picture confirmed her as a major actress in Hollywood. For playing aspiring actress Eva Lovelace—a role intended for Constance Bennett—in Morning Glory, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. She had seen the script on the desk of producer Pandro S. Berman and, convinced that she was born to play the part, insisted that the role be hers.
  • 1931
    Age 23
    Hepburn appeared in a number of plays with a summer stock company in Ivoryton, Connecticut, and she proved to be a hit. During the summer of 1931, Philip Barry asked her to appear in his new play, The Animal Kingdom, alongside Leslie Howard.
    More Details Hide Details They began rehearsals in November, Hepburn feeling sure the role would make her a star, but Howard disliked the actress and again she was fired. When she asked Barry why she had been let go, he responded, "Well, to be brutally frank, you weren't very good." This unsettled the self-assured Hepburn, but she continued to look for work. She took a small role in an upcoming play, but as rehearsals began she was asked to read for the lead in the Greek fable The Warrior's Husband. The Warrior's Husband proved to be Hepburn's breakout performance. Biographer Charles Higham states that the role was ideal for the actress, requiring an aggressive energy and athleticism, and she enthusiastically involved herself with its production. The play opened March 11, 1932, at the Morosco Theatre on Broadway. Hepburn's first entrance called for her to leap down a narrow stairway with a stag over her shoulder, wearing a short silver tunic. The show ran for three months, and Hepburn received positive reviews. Richard Garland of the New York World-Telegram wrote, "It's been many a night since so glowing a performance has brightened the Broadway scene."
    In early 1931, she was cast in the Broadway production of Art and Mrs. Bottle.
    More Details Hide Details She was released from the role after the playwright took a dislike to her, saying "She looks a fright, her manner is objectionable, and she has no talent", but then rehired when no other actress could be found. It went on to be a small success.
  • 1930
    Age 22
    In the spring of 1930, Hepburn joined a theatre company in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
    More Details Hide Details She left halfway through the summer season, and continued studying with a drama tutor.
  • 1929
    Age 21
    In 1929, Hepburn turned down a role with the Theatre Guild to play the lead in Death Takes a Holiday.
    More Details Hide Details She felt the role was perfect, but again she was fired. She went back to the Guild and took an understudy role for minimum pay in A Month in the Country.
  • 1928
    Age 20
    Hepburn's only husband was Ludlow Ogden Smith, a socialite-businessman from Philadelphia whom she met while a student at Bryn Mawr. The couple married on December 12, 1928, when she was 21 and he was 29.
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn had Smith change his name to S. Ogden Ludlow so that she would not be known as "Kate Smith", which she considered too plain. She never fully committed to the marriage and prioritized her career.
    Her Broadway debut came on November 12, 1928, at the Cort Theatre, but reviews for the show were poor and it closed after eight nights.
    More Details Hide Details Hopkins promptly hired Hepburn as the lead understudy in Philip Barry's play Holiday. In early December, after only two weeks, she quit to marry Ludlow Ogden Smith, a college acquaintance. She planned to leave the theatre behind, but began to miss the work and quickly resumed the understudy role in Holiday, which she held for six months.
    She graduated with a degree in history and philosophy in June 1928.
    More Details Hide Details Hepburn left university determined to become an actress. The day after graduating, she traveled to Baltimore to meet Edwin H. Knopf, who ran a successful stock theatre company. Impressed by her eagerness, Knopf cast Hepburn in his current production, The Czarina. She received good reviews for her small role, and the Printed Word described her performance as "arresting". She was given a part in the following week's show, but her second performance was less well received. She was criticized for her shrill voice, and so left Baltimore to study with a voice tutor in New York City. Knopf decided to produce The Big Pond in New York and appointed Hepburn the understudy to the leading lady. A week before opening, the lead was fired and replaced with Hepburn, which gave her a starring role only four weeks into her theatre career. On opening night, she turned up late, mixed her lines, tripped over her feet, and spoke too quickly to be comprehensible. She was immediately fired, and the original leading lady rehired. Undeterred, Hepburn joined forces with the producer Arthur Hopkins and accepted the role of a schoolgirl in These Days.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1924
    Age 16
    In 1924 Hepburn gained a place at Bryn Mawr College.
    More Details Hide Details She attended the institution primarily to satisfy her mother, who had studied there, and recalled disliking the experience. It was the first time she had been in school for several years, and she was self-conscious and uncomfortable with her classmates. She struggled with the scholastic demands of university, and once was suspended for smoking in her room. Hepburn was drawn to acting, but roles in college plays were conditional on good grades. Once her marks had improved, she began performing regularly. She performed the lead role in a production of The Woman in the Moon in her senior year, and the positive response it received cemented Hepburn's plans to pursue a theatrical career.
  • 1921
    Age 13
    On April 3, 1921, while visiting friends in Greenwich Village, Hepburn discovered the body of her adored older brother, Tom, dead from an apparent suicide.
    More Details Hide Details He had tied a sheet around a beam and hanged himself. The Hepburn family denied it was suicide and maintained that Tom's death must have been an experiment that had gone wrong. The incident made the teenage Hepburn nervous, moody, and suspicious of people. She shied away from other children, dropped out of Oxford School, and began receiving private tutoring. For many years she used Tom's birthday (November 8) as her own.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1907
    Born
    Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 12, 1907, the second of six children.
    More Details Hide Details Her parents were Thomas Norval Hepburn (1879–1962), a urologist at Hartford Hospital, and Katharine Martha Houghton (1878–1951), a feminist campaigner. Both parents fought for social change in the US: Thomas Hepburn helped establish the New England Social Hygiene Association, which educated the public about venereal disease, while the elder Katharine headed the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association and later campaigned for birth control with Margaret Sanger. As a child, Hepburn joined her mother on several "Votes For Women" demonstrations. The Hepburn children were raised to exercise freedom of speech and encouraged to think and debate on any topic they wished. Her parents were criticized by the community for their progressive views, which stimulated Hepburn to fight against barriers she encountered. Hepburn said she realized from a young age that she was the product of "two very remarkable parents", and credited her "enormously lucky" upbringing with providing the foundation for her success. She remained close to her family throughout her life.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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