Katharine Hepburn Life

Maximiliano Monroy

1907 to 2003

Katharine Hepburn was born on May 12,1907 in Hartford,CT.She died on June 29,2003 in Fenwick,CT.

Childhood

As a teenager,katharine was a free spirited getting involved in sports such as swimming,skating,and gymnastics.Later on, she was suspended for smoking and breaking curfew.With five siblings to play with, Hepburn enjoyed what she has described as "an idyllic, wonderful childhood." In 1920, however, that perfection came to an end with the death of her older brother Tom. She and Tom were particularly close, and they had gone to New York to visit a close family friend, "Aunt" Mary Towle. While there one day, Hepburn went to wake her brother, who had been sleeping in the furnished attic. She found him hanging from a torn piece of sheeting attached to a rafter. Despite several theories, the reason for his apparent suicide remains unknown.

Tom's death had a profound effect on Hepburn. Unable to go back to school and face the sympathetic looks and inevitable questions from her classmates, Hepburn opted for private tutoring. "This incident seemed to sort of separate me from the world as I'd known it," she wrote in her autobiography. "I tried school but it was—well, I should say I was—I felt isolated. I knew something that the girls did not know: tragedy." To fill up her time and lift her spirits, Hepburn created a stage out of an old wooden box and a curtain. There, she entertained her family with stories she made up. Hepburn continued private tutoring until 1924 when she entered the college her mother had attended, Bryn Mawr.

Hepburn proved to be an average student who was almost kicked out twice—once for letting her grades slip drastically after a bout with appendicitis and once for smoking on school property, which was against regulations. It also was at Bryn Mawr that Hepburn became involved in college theater productions, and where she made the decision to become an actress.


Education


Following graduation, Hepburn defied her parents and went to work with a Baltimore-based stock theater company. She made her professional debut in 1928 as a lady-in-waiting in The Czarina. In 1928, she landed a part in the Broadway show These Days. While understudying for the star in the Broadway play Holiday,Hepburn gave her notice two weeks after the opening and married a prominent socialite by the name of Ludlow Ogden Smith, whom she affectionately referred to as "Luddy." Their marriage was not to be long-lived, however. After some success in New York, Hepburn left for Hollywood in 1932. "It turned out to be the beginning of the end of our marriage," she wrote in her autobiography. A few years later they divorced, though they remained close friends throughout the 1930s, and Smith remained "family" to the Hepburns for the rest of his life.

When Hepburn arrived in Hollywood, she presented a number of problems for studio heads. These problems were primarily related to her famous rebelliousness. Hepburn's fiery independence and strong will were virtually unknown characteristics in the prevailing women stars of the day. Consequently, Hollywood wasn't sure how to publicize her, which type of man to cast opposite her, or what sort of movies to construct around her. It is fitting that one of her 1930s films would be titled A Woman Rebels, since rebellion was a trait expressed by most of the characters she played, and as an independent actress off screen. The rebelliousness could be used—up to a point—to make her as an attractive identification figure for the female viewer. At the same time, many were concerned that her independence could too easily become radical and uncontrollable. Hollywood was quite simply unsure about how to contain her. Some would argue that this also made Hepburn's career significant in relation to feminism. Without ever expressly stating a desire to champion equality for women—indeed, Hepburn once said she "chose to live as a man"—Hepburn repeatedly challenged a male-dominated social order both on and off the screen.

Many of Hepburn's films in the 1930s had a recurring theme of female rebellion against male determination. Films such as Little Women (1933) and Stage Door (1937) demonstrate female bonding and mutual support, while a number of her other films question society's definition of masculinity and femininity. It also was in the 1930s that Hepburn worked with an ideal co-star—Cary Grant. Perhaps her two finest films in this decade wereHoliday (1938) and Bringing Up Baby (1938), in which Grant and Hepburn were allowed to play off each other's pronounced personalities and excellent senses of comic timi

Family

Hepburn was born on May 12, 1907, the second oldest of six children, in Hartford, Connecticut. Her father, Thomas, was a doctor with progressive ideas and a great belief in the benefits of exercise. One of his favorite sayings was, "Exercise is the surest road to health." As a result of her father's enthusiasm for sports, Hepburn was something of a tomboy who wore short hair and trousers at a time when her peers wore long hair and dresses. From her father, Hepburn learned to believe in her own capabilities and in the importance of perseverance. In her 1991 autobiography, Me: The Stories of My Life, Hepburn remembered: "Dad once said that he would like to see me run off the diving board and go feet first with toes pointed, arms up, into the water. I tried it and landed flat on my back and was knocked out cold. The important thing was to try."


Hepburn's mother, Katharine, also was a strong presence and a great influence on her daughter. As a suffragette, she campaigned so that women would have the right to vote. She also was an outspoken supporter of birth control at a time when many considered such action immoral and inappropriate for women to discuss, let alone champion. Hepburn flourished in her liberal and open-minded home, fully participating in heated dinner table debates and laying the groundwork for the independent woman she was to become.

Career

  • Katharine was the most famous american actress in the twentieth century.

  • She had a very good attitude and won on the academy awards.Following graduation, Hepburn defied her parents and went to work with a Baltimore-based stock theater company. She made her professional debut in 1928 as a lady-in-waiting in The Czarina. In 1928, she landed a part in the Broadway show These Days. While understudying for the star in the Broadway play Holiday,Hepburn gave her notice two weeks after the opening and married a prominent socialite by the name of Ludlow Ogden Smith, whom she affectionately referred to as "Luddy." Their marriage was not to be long-lived, however. After some success in New York, Hepburn left for Hollywood in 1932. "It turned out to be the beginning of the end of our marriage," she wrote in her autobiography. A few years later they divorced, though they remained close friends throughout the 1930s, and Smith remained "family" to the Hepburns for the rest of his life.

    When Hepburn arrived in Hollywood, she presented a number of problems for studio heads. These problems were primarily related to her famous rebelliousness. Hepburn's fiery independence and strong will were virtually unknown characteristics in the prevailing women stars of the day. Consequently, Hollywood wasn't sure how to publicize her, which type of man to cast opposite her, or what sort of movies to construct around her. It is fitting that one of her 1930s films would be titled A Woman Rebels, since rebellion was a trait expressed by most of the characters she played, and as an independent actress off screen. The rebelliousness could be used—up to a point—to make her as an attractive identification figure for the female viewer. At the same time, many were concerned that her independence could too easily become radical and uncontrollable. Hollywood was quite simply unsure about how to contain her. Some would argue that this also made Hepburn's career significant in relation to feminism. Without ever expressly stating a desire to champion equality for women—indeed, Hepburn once said she "chose to live as a man"—Hepburn repeatedly challenged a male-dominated social order both on and off the screen.

    Many of Hepburn's films in the 1930s had a recurring theme of female rebellion against male determination. Films such as Little Women (1933) and Stage Door (1937) demonstrate female bonding and mutual support, while a number of her other films question society's definition of masculinity and femininity. It also was in the 1930s that Hepburn worked with an ideal co-star—Cary Grant. Perhaps her two finest films in this decade wereHoliday (1938) and Bringing Up Baby (1938), in which Grant and Hepburn were allowed to play off each other's pronounced personalities and excellent senses of comic timing.



Accomplishments

In 1940, Hepburn's career reached a turning point. After performing in a series of poorly received movies in the late 1930s, a group of movie theater owners banded together to label Hepburn "box-office poison." Her studio, RKO, began to offer lesser and lesser roles to Hepburn. Resentful and frustrated, Hepburn decided to leave Hollywood. While vacationing at her family's summer home, Hepburn was approached by friend and playwright Philip Barry to star in his new play, The Philadelphia Story (1939). Written with Hepburn in mind, the play concerns a cool and detached Philadelphia socialite who is transformed into a warm, vulnerable woman by the end of the play. Hepburn accepted the role, and the production was a great success. When the film version was made, Hepburn—who played opposite Grant and James Stewart—was praised for her vivid and engaging performance, which once again placed her at the top of her profession.

It also was in the 1940s that Hepburn first teamed up with her most famous co-star, and a man with whom she fell in love—Spencer Tracy. Hepburn and Tracy made a total of nine films together, beginning in 1942 withWoman of the Year and ending in 1967 with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Tracy's strength and masculinity balanced Hepburn's independence, and their on-screen chemistry attracted a large and loyal following. Because Tracy was married and a Catholic, many believe that Tracy's religious beliefs kept him from divorcing his wife to marry Hepburn. As a result, the two had an affair that lasted until Tracy died in 1967. Over the years, Hepburn rarely spoke of their relationship and the media was surprisingly discreet in their coverage of the couple. In her autobiography, Hepburn wrote: "I have no idea how Spence felt about me. I can only say I think that if he hadn't liked me he wouldn't have hung around. As simple as that. He wouldn't talk about it and I didn't talk about it. We just passed 27 years together in what was to me absolute bliss. It is called LOVE."

One of Hepburn's unlikeliest, though ultimately most endearing, pairings was with Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. In the 1951 film, she appears as Rose Sayer—a proper missionary woman who must escape war-torn Africa with a hard-drinking river boatman. The movie is considered one of her lasting triumphs. Hepburn and Bogart, in addition to mastering uncharacteristic roles, endured hostile climatic conditions and the eccentricities of director John Huston to complete a film that would become an American classic.

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In her later years, Hepburn continued to perform in movies on the big screen and on television. In 1981, she won her fourth Oscar for best actress—more than any other female or male performer—for her role in On Golden Pond (1981). Nominated for a total of twelve Academy Awards for best actress, Hepburn also won Oscars for Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), and The Lion in Winter (1968). In 1986, Hepburn appeared in Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry, a made-for-television light comedy about a love affair between two senior citizens. In 1994, she played a featured role in the film Love Affair, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening's remake of the classic 1957 film An Affair to Remember, which starred Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. She also performed in a few other made-for-television films, including The Glass Menagerie(1973), Love Among the Ruins (1975), The Man Upstairs (1992), All About Me (1993), and This Can't Be Love. Hepburn received Emmy Award nominations for her performances in The Glass Menagerie, Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry, and The Corn is Green. She also won an Emmy Award for her performance with co-star Sir Laurence Olivier in Love Among the Ruins (1975).

In addition to these successful films, Hepburn also appeared in a deeply personal tribute to Spencer Tracy in 1986 called The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn, which provided a behind-the-scenes look at the actor's personal and professional life. In the tribute, Hepburn finally spoke publicly about the relationship she had with Tracy, and their last years together. Hepburn took nearly five years off from her career to care for Tracy after he became ill. In his later years, Tracy was diagnosed with diabetes, which was made worse by his alcoholism. Spencer died of a heart attack at age 67, after suffering a number of years with emphysema. After he passed away in 1967, Hepburn chose not to attend his funeral out of respect for Tracy's family. She also never watched the last film they made together, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, because she said it would have been too painful. Tracy died just seventeen days after they finished filming the movie, which was released six months after his death.

When she was eighty-five, Hepburn narrated All About Me (1993), a documentary about her life. The documentary provided clips from some of her movies, along with a deeply personal, inside look into the actress's life. In the film, she also showed off some of her artwork, including a bust of Tracy that she had sculpted.

Hepburn also continued to appear on the stage throughout her career. Her last stage appearance in The West Side Waltz (1981), which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Leading Actress in a Play. She made her singing debut on Broadway in 1969 at the age of sixty-two in the musical Coco, which was based on the life of fashion designer Coco Chanel.

In her later years, Hepburn wrote a couple of books, including The Making of the African Queen: Or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind (1987), and her autobiography Me: Stories of My Life (1991).

Hepburn remained active and spry in her later years despite hip-replacement surgery, operations on both of her shoulders, and a tremor—genetic condition that made her head shake. In her old age, Hepburn was surrounded by a small staff, a circle of close friends, and Phyllis Wilbourn—longtime secretary, companion, caregiver, and friend. Hepburn died at the age of ninety-six on June 29, 2003, in her family home at Old Saybrook, Connecticut. A biography of Hepburn—written by Pulitzer Prize-winning A. Scott Berg, Kate Remembered,—was published just thirteen days after her death. The book had been completed for years, but Hepburn asked that it not be published until after she passed away. In 2004, according to Hepburn's wishes, her belongings were put up for auction with Sotheby's in New York. Among the auctioned items were the bust of Tracy that she sculpted and many of her own oil paintings. The proceeds of the auction—several million dollars—were willed to her family and close friends. A collection of memorabilia, including thousands of photographs and letters, were donated to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by Hepburn's estate.