Katharine Hepburn was born and raised in Hartford and West Hartford. She was the daughter of Katharine Houghton, an active supporter of women’s rights, and Thomas Hepburn, Connecticut’s first urologist.
The second of six children, Hepburn was bright, independent, and an excellent athlete. She became interested in theater at an early age. At age 8, she dramatized Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the tiny theater her father had built for her.
In 1924, Hepburn followed in her mother’s footsteps and attended Bryn Mawr College. After graduation, she followed her dream of becoming an actress. She began her career in the theater, first in Baltimore and then New York.
After the theatrical success of The Warrior’s Husband (1932), RKO pictures invited her to Hollywood. Her first film A Bill of Divorcement debuted on September 30, 1932. In 1933 she won her first Academy Award for Morning Glory. That year she also starred in Little Women, which was a huge hit.
Hepburn’s reputation for haughty behavior off-screen led to criticism. Her refusal to play the “Hollywood Game” – wearing slacks, not wearing makeup, not posing for pictures, and not giving interviews – resulted in several flops. In 1938, Bringing Up Baby and Holiday, both with Cary Grant, slightly redeemed her, but not enough to keep her from being dubbed box-office poison.
The Philadelphia Story
Hepburn revived her career by going back to the theater. In 1938, she starred in The Philadelphia Story on Broadway, receiving critical acclaim. She obtained the film rights to the play with the financial assistance of Howard Hughes. She then sold the rights to MGM with the conditions that she star in the film and retain decision making power. It was a box office hit.
Hepburn & Tracy
Hepburn’s next film was Woman of the Year in 1942. Paired with Spencer Tracy, the movie sparked their life-long affair. They starred together in nine films and sustained a relationship that lasted 25 years. Their final collaboration was Guess Who’s Coming Dinner which was also Tracy’s last film.
Academy Award Winner
Hepburn’s career spanned five decades. She holds the record for most Best Actress Oscar wins with four. In addition to Morning Glory (1933), she won for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), a The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981).
Hepburn died at the age of 96 at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
Section 10, Lot 132
Connecticut Women’s Council. Katharine Hepburn. Accessed at https://www.cwhf.org/inductees/katharine-hepburn
Internet Movie Database. Katharine Hepburn. Accessed at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000031/
Wikipedia. Katharine Hepburn. Accessed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn, Public Domain