Katharine Hepburn | biography | clip | relationships | pictures best movies | quotes

Brief biography

American actress and leading lady in Hollywood for more than 60 years Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003)Katharine Hepburn (May 12, 1907 - June 29, 2003), ranked #1 female movie star legend in the history of American cinema by AFI, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the second of six children of a surgeon and urologist at Hartford Hospital, and a feminist campaigner. Both always encouraged her to speak her mind, develop it fully, and exercise her body to its full potential. She did attend Bryn Mawr College, where she decided to become an actress, appearing in many of their productions. After graduating, she began getting small roles in plays on Broadway and elsewhere. She always attracted attention, especially for her role in "Art and Mrs. Bottle" (1931). The inevitable film offers followed; after make a few screen tests, she was cast in A Bill of Divorcement (1932), opposite John Barrymore. The film was a hit, and after agreeing to her salary demands, RKO signed her to a contract. She made five films between 1932 and 1934. For her third, Morning Glory (1933), she won her first Academy Award. From the period 1935 - 1938, she had only two hits: Alice Adams (1935), which brought her her second Oscar nomination, and Stage Door (1937). The film version of The Philadelphia Story (1940), was a box-office hit, and Hepburn, who won her third Oscar nomination for the film, was bankable again. For her next film, Woman of the Year (1942), she was paired with Spencer Tracy, and the chemistry between them lasted for eight more films, spanning the course of 25 years, and a romance that lasted that long off-screen. With The African Queen (1951), Hepburn moved into middle-aged spinster roles, receiving her fifth Oscar nomination for the film while garnering Humphrey Bogart his only Academy Award for Best Actor. She played more of these types of roles throughout the 50s, and won more Oscar nominations for many of them, including her roles in Summertime (1955), The Rainmaker (1956) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). On Golden Pond (1981), with Henry Fonda brought her her twelfth Oscar nomination and fourth win. With her health declining she retired from public life in the mid-nineties. She died at 96 at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

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Marriage and relationships

Katharine Hepburn's only marriage was to Ludlow Ogden Smith (12 December 1928 - 18 September 1941 ; divorced)

Soon after moving to California, Hepburn began a relationship with her agent, Leland Hayward.

In 1936 she began a relationship with entrepreneur Howard Hughes. He wished to marry her but Hepburn stayed focused on resurrecting her failing career.

The most significant relationship of Hepburn's life was with Spencer Tracy, her co-star in nine films from 1943 until his death in 1967.


A Bill of Divorcement (1932) $1,500 /week . Morning Glory (1933) $2 .500 / week . Spitfire (1934) $60,000 . Sylvia Scarlett (1935) $1,500 /week + $50,000 . Holiday (1938) $1,500 /week . The Philadelphia Story (1940) $75,000 + $175,000 for the rights. Woman of the Year (1942) $250,000 . The African Queen (1951) $130,000 + 10% of profits . Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) $200,000 . Rooster Cogburn (1975) $250,000 . The Man Upstairs (1992) $200,000


1932 "A Bill of Divorcement" as Sidney Fairfield
1933 "Little Women" as Josephine "Jo" March
1933 "Morning Glory" as Eva Lovelace
1933 "Christopher Strong" as Lady Cynthia Darrington
1934 "The Little Minister" as Babbie
1934 "Spitfire" as Trigger Hicks
1935 "Sylvia Scarlett" as Sylvia Scarlett
1935 "Alice Adams" as Alice Adams
1935 "Break of Hearts" as Constance Dane
1936 "A Woman Rebels" as Pamela Thislewaite
1936 "Mary of Scotland" as Mary Stuart
1937 "Stage Door" as Terry Randall
1937 "Quality Street" as Phoebe Throssel
1938 "Holiday" as Linda Seton
1938 "Bringing Up Baby" as Susan Vance
1940 "The Philadelphia Story" as Tracy Lord
1942 "Keeper of the Flame" as Christine Forrest
1942 "Woman of the Year" as Tess Harding
1943 "Stage Door Canteen" as Katharine Hepburn
1944 "Dragon Seed" as Jade
1945 "Without Love" as Jamie Rowan
1946 "Undercurrent" as Ann Hamilton
1947 "Song of Love" as Clara Wieck Schumann
1947 "The Sea of Grass" as Lutie Cameron
1948 "State of the Union" as Mary Matthews
1949 "Adam's Rib" as Amanda Bonner
1951 "The African Queen" as Rose Sayer
1952 "Pat and Mike" as Patricia "Pat" Pemberton
1955 "Summertime" as Jane Hudson
1956 "The Iron Petticoat" as Vinka Kovelenko
1956 "The Rainmaker" as Lizzie Curry
1957 "Desk Set" as Bunny Watson
1959 "Suddenly, Last Summer" as Violet Venable
1962 "Long Day's Journey into Night" as Mary Tyrone
1967 "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" as Christina Drayton
1968 "The Lion in Winter" as Eleanor of Aquitaine
1969 "The Madwoman of Chaillot" as Aurelia
1971 "The Trojan Women" as Hecuba
1973 "A Delicate Balance" as Agnes
1975 "Rooster Cogburn" as Eula Goodnight
1978 "Olly Olly Oxen Free" as Miss Pudd
1981 "On Golden Pond" as Ethel Thayer
1985 "Grace Quigley" as Grace Quigley
1994 "Love Affair" as Ginny

Pictures from his best movies


"I strike people as peculiar in some way, although I don't quite understand why. Of course, I have an angular face, an angular body, and, I suppose, an angular personality, which jabs into people."

"I'm a personality as well as an actress. Show me an actress who isn't a personality, and you'll show me a woman who isn't a star."

"My father, a surgeon and urologist, studied sex professionally all his life. Before he died at 82, he told me he hadn't come to any conclusions about it at all."

"I think most of the people involved in any art always secretly wonder whether they are really there because they're good - or because they're lucky."

Awards and nominations

Her career spanned 66 years and eight decades (1928 - 1994), during which time she was honored with many of the industry's top awards. She was nominated 12 and won four Academy Awards for Best Actress. Jack Nicholson also has 12 nominations (8 as Best Actor and 4 Best Supporting Actor nominations) and three wins. She received 2 awards and 5 nominations from the British Academy Film Awards, one award and 6 nominations from the Emmy Awards, 8 Golden Globe nominations, and 2 Tony Award nominations. She won awards from the Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and Montréal World Film Festival. Hepburn was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1979. She also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1979, and received the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognize a lifetime of accomplishments in the arts, in 1990.


Ranked #1 women in the AFI's "The 50 greatest american screen legends"

Is one of 14 Best Actress Oscar winners to have not accepted their Academy Award in person. Hepburn did not accept any of her 4 wins (for Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981). The others are Claudette Colbert, Judy Holliday, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Anna Magnani, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren, Anne Bancroft, Patricia Neal, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith, Glenda Jackson and Ellen Burstyn.