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Katharine Hepburn

Studio publicity photo, 1940.
Personal information
Birth nameKatharine Houghton Hepburn
Birth dateMay 12, 1907
Place of birthHartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Date of deathJune 29, 2003(age 96)
Death placeFenwick, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, U.S.
Alma materBryn Mawr College
OccupationActor
Years active1928 1994
Height5' 7"
Political partyDemocrat
ReligionAtheist
SpouseLudlow Ogden Smith
(1928 34)
PartnerSpencer Tracy
(1941 67, his death)
ParentsKatharine Martha Houghton Hepburn
Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn

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Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 - June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage, and television. In a career that spanned eight decades of the 20th century, she was highly regarded for her work in both dramatic and comedic roles, and became a cultural icon through her trademark independence and spirited personality.

Raised in Connecticut by wealthy, progressive parents, Hepburn turned to acting after graduation from Bryn Mawr College. Favorable reviews of her work on Broadway brought her to the attention of Hollywood. Her feature debut, 1932's A Bill of Divorcement, was a success and turned her into an instant star. Within 18 months, she had won an Academy Award for Morning Glory, however this initial success was followed by a series of commercial failures. Her brash personality and unconventional behavior (such as wearing trousers) began to turn audiences away, and in time she was labeled "box office poison". Hepburn masterminded her own comeback, buying the film rights to The Philadelphia Story and only selling them on the condition that she be the star. The movie was a hit, and Hepburn was in high demand from then on. She enjoyed a great level of success in the latter half of her life, often through playing strong-willed women with a hidden vulnerability. Alongside her movie career, Hepburn regularly appeared on the stage, including numerous Shakespeare performances. She maintained an active career into old-age, making her final movie appearance in 1994.

Throughout her career, Hepburn co-starred with screen legends such as Cary Grant, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Laurence Olivier and Henry Fonda. Her most famous pairing was with Spencer Tracy, with whom she made nine pictures over a 25 year period and had a much-discussed love affair. Hepburn won more Academy Awards than any other actor or actress, with four wins out of 12 nominations. She also won, among others, an Emmy Award, two BAFTAs, a Cannes Film Festival Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. The longevity, success and impact of Hepburn's career led the American Film Institute to name her the greatest female star in the history of American cinema.


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