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Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn
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Katharine Hepburn Biography

Katharine Hepburn (May 12, 1907 - June 29, 2003) was a notable American actress who was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Educated at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, Hepburn received her degree in 1928 and debuted on Broadway that same year in Night Hostess. In 1932 her screen-test for RKO gained her a role in the George Cukor film A Bill of Divorcement (1932), playing opposite John Barrymore. Hepburn won her first Academy Award in 1933 and won three more Oscars and eight nominations over the rest of her career. As of January 2003 she was tied with Meryl Streep as the most Academy Award-nominated actress in history. Read Full Bio >>

Katharine Hepburn Awards

1995 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries One Christmas (1994) (TV). Nominated
1994 CableACE Awards Entertainment/Cultural Documentary or Informational Special Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) (TV). Nominated
1993 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Informational Special Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) (TV). Nominated
1993 Golden Globes, USA Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV The Man Upstairs (1992) (TV). Nominated
1989 American Comedy Awards, USA Won

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Katharine Hepburn Trivia

  • Graduated from Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1928, with a degree in history and philosophy.
  • Was named Best Classic Actress of the 20th Century in an Entertainment Weekly on-line poll, just barely (21.5% to 20.6%) beating out runner-up Audrey Hepburn. [September 1999]
  • Has never watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) because it was Spencer Tracy's last film.
  • Ranked #1 woman in the AFI's "50 Greatest Movie Legends." [June 1999]
  • Walked around the studio in her underwear in the early 1930s when the costume department stole her slacks from her dressing room. She refused to put anything else on until they were returned.
  • She was nearly decapitated by an aeroplane propeller when she was rushing about an airport, avoiding the press.
  • Was a leading choice to play "Scarlett O'Hara" in Gone with the Wind (1939).
  • Had a relationship with Spencer Tracy from 1940 until his death in 1967.
  • Ranked #68 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
  • Born at 3:47pm-EST.
  • Aunt of actress Katharine Houghton, who portrayed her character's daughter in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).
  • Admitted to using her brother's birthdate as her own for years.
  • Does not suffer from Parkinson's disease. She set the record straight in the 1993 TV documentary Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) (TV), which she narrated herself. Quote: "Now to squash a rumor. No, I don't have Parkinson's. I inherited my shaking head from my grandfather Hepburn. I discovered that whisky helps stop the shaking. Problem is, if you're not careful, it stops the rest of you too. My head just shakes, but I promise you, it ain't gonna fall off!"
  • Was admitted to a Hartford hospital for treatment for a urinary infection. Her release was delayed because doctors wanted to monitor her walking. [18 July 2001]
  • Was a direct descendant of Britain's King John through one of his illegitimate children.
  • Great-aunt of Schuyler Grant.
  • Turned down the role of Marilla in Anne of Green Gables (1985) (TV), but recommended her great-neice, Schuyler Grant for the role of Anne. Schuler ended up playing Diana instead.
  • On American Film Institute's list of "Top 100 U.S. Love Stories," compiled in June 2002, Hepburn led all actresses with six of her films on the list. (Actor Cary Grant, co-star with her in two of them, led the male field, also with six films on list). The duo's The Philadelphia Story (1940) was ranked #44 and their Bringing Up Baby (1938) ranked #51. Hepburn's four other movies on AFI Top "100 Love Movies list" are: - #14 The African Queen (1951) - #22 On Golden Pond (1981) - #58 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - #74 Woman of the Year (1942)
  • Meryl Streep beat her in the number of Oscar nominations, when she received her 13th Oscar nod for Adaptation. (2002). However, Hepburn still reigns as the only 4-time Oscar recipient for acting.
  • As of 2003, "Only Tie in Oscars For Best Actress", Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl (1968) and Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter (1968) in 1969.
  • Her father's name was Thomas and her mother's name was Katharine.
  • Was nominated for two Tony Awards: in 1970 as Best Actress (Musical), for playing the title character, Coco Chanel in "Coco," and in 1982 as Best Actress (Play), for "The West Side Waltz." She lost both times.
  • Her maternal grandfather; her father's brother, Charlie; and her older brother, Tom, all committed suicide. These tragedies were never talked about in her family. Ms. Hepburn said of her parents, "There was nothing to be done about these matters and [my parents] simply did not believe in moaning about anything."
  • Measurements: 34B-22-33 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
  • Made nine films with Spencer Tracy, the first of which was Woman of the Year (1942).
  • Admitted that she was menstruating while making The African Queen (1951), which resulted in giving her fellow crew members the impression that she was moody and difficult.
  • On June 2004 Sotheby's auction house hosted a two-day estate of Katharine Hepburn, auctioning of personal belongings of the legendary actress to collectors. The auction included her furniture, jewelry (which included the platinum, diamond and sapphire given to her by then-boyfriend Howard Hughes which fetched $120,000, six times its estimated price), paperwork (such as personal checks, telegrams, birth certificates, letters, film contracts, movie scripts), and nomination certificates from the Academy Awards. Among other items were casual clothes, and gowns that included her unusual wedding dress to Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928, made of crushed white velvet with antiqued gold embroidery, sold for $27,000. Also consisted in the lot were house decorations drawings and paintings done by the actress herself, glamour portraits, and a glass bronze sculpture entitled "Angel on a Wave" sold for $90,000 while a self-portrait entitled "Breakfast in Bed and a Self-Portrait in Brisbane, Australia", fetched $33,000, some 40 times the estimated price. Movie memorabilia comprised of a ring from her 1968 film The Lion in Winter (1968), Gertrud (1964), the canoe from the film On Golden Pond (1981) sold for $19,200 to entertainer Wayne Newton and the most sought after piece and the most expensive item was the bronze bust of Spencer Tracy that Hepburn created herself and was featured in _Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967)_ . The audience cheered when the 3-inch sculpture sold for $316,000, compared to an estimate of $3,000-$5,000. The only awards that were won by the actress to be auctioned of were the 1958 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, the annual Shakespeare club of New York City, the Fashion Desinger Lifetime Achievment, a few Box Office Blue Ribbons, the Walk of Fame plaque and the 1990 Kennedy Center Honor. Her four Oscars were not included due to contract reasons.
  • She was one of the few great stars in Hollywood who made no attempt to sugarcoat her true personality for anyone, a personality that was by all accounts feisty and some would say nasty. She was infamous for letting those whom she disliked know it.
  • Was a natural red head.
  • Her affair with Howard Hughes was portrayed by Cate Blanchett and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator (2004).
  • She was voted the "2nd Greatest Movie Star of All Time" by Entertainment Weekly.
  • Was a self-confessed fan of John Gilbert and Greta Garbo.
  • In The Lion in Winter (1968) she plays the mother of Richard Lionheart, who is played by Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins later said that Hepburn's voice was, in part, the basis for Hannibal Lecter's voice.
  • She was of Scottish and English descent.
  • Expressed great fondness for actors Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Melanie Griffith and Julia Roberts, and great disdain for Meryl Streep, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and - in particular - Woody Allen.
  • In a letter to Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Gregory Peck, she claimed that sentiment for the passing away of her long-time lover and co-star Spencer Tracy had been part of the reason she won her second Oscar for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" (1967). She told Peck that she modeled her award-winning characterization of Christina Drayton on her mother.
  • When Cate Blanchett won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for _The Aviator (2004)_ , Hepburn became the first previous Oscar winner to become an Oscar-winning movie role.
  • She was voted the 14th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
  • According to Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley's book "Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s", Hepburn was a leftist in her politics in the 1940s. When the Conference of Studio Unions, headed by suspected Communist Party member Herb Sorrell, launched a strike in 1946-47 against the studios and fought other unions for control over Hollywood's collective bargaining, she expressed support for him. (Sorrell had been kidnapped, beaten, and left as dead during the strike, possibly by by the Mafia, which up until the early 1940s, had controlled the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which was contesting the CSU for jurisdiction over Hollywood unions.) At a Screen Writers Guild meeting during the CSU strike, Hepburn made a speech which anti-communist, anti-CSU SAG activist Ronald Reagan recognized as being based word for word on a CSU strike bulletin. Hepburn's lover Spencer Tracy's admonition that actors should stay out of politics ("Remember who shot Lincoln") was ignored by Hepburn, whose mother had been sympathetic to Marxism and the Soviet Union, despite their family's wealth. On May 19, 1947, Hepburn addressed a Progressive Party rally at the Hollywood Legion Stadium with Progressive Party stalwart and later presidential candidate Henry Wallace, the former vice president of the U.S. who had been sacked from President Truman's cabinet for being pro-Soviet. Wearing a red dress, Hepburn delivered a speech, written by Communist Party member and soon-to-be Hollywood Ten indictee Dalton Trumbo. When screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. (winner of an Oscar for writing her picture "Woman of the Year" and one of the Hollywood Ten) was jailed, she wrote a letter of support for him. Years later, in 1964, when Lardner was trying to get Tracy to star in "The Cincinnatti Kid," he thanked Hepburn for her support. She told him she didn't remember writing the letter and refused to talk about it.
  • Became very fond of Christopher Reeve, both as an actor and as a person, when he made his Broadway debut opposite her in the 1978 production of "A Matter of Gravity". She became so fond of him that she used to tease him that she wanted him to take care of her when she retired. Ironically, his reply was "Miss Hepburn, I don't think I'll live that long."
  • She is portrayed by Marianne Taylor in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980) (TV), by Tovah Feldshuh in The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977) (TV) and by Cate Blanchett in The Aviator (2004).
  • Is one of the many movie stars mentioned in Madonna's song "Vogue"
  • She and Spencer Tracy acted together in 9 movies: Adam's Rib (1949), Desk Set (1957), Keeper of the Flame (1942), Pat and Mike (1952), The Sea of Grass (1947), State of the Union (1948), Without Love (1945), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) and Woman of the Year (1942).
  • After marrying Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928, she forced him to change his name to S. Ogden Ludlow. She objected to her married name being "Katharine Smith" because there was already a well-known (and rather portly) radio singer with the same name.
  • Personally requested Peter O'Toole to play her husband in The Lion In Winter (1968), even though he was young enough to be her son and had a reputation for being a heavy drinker. He was, however, on his best behavior when working with her.
  • One of Hollywood's early tall leading ladies, standing over 5' 7" in an era when most actresses were only a little over 5' 0".

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