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Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn was born Katharina Houghton Hepburn in Hartford, Connecticut on 12th May, 1907. Her father was a medical doctor and her mother a civil rights activist. They were both comfortably well-off and progressive thinking

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine HepburnKatharine Hepburn's father was involved with the fight against sexually-transmitted diseases and her mother fought for equal rights for women as a suffragist. They both believed in birth control and women's education. Katharine was sent to Bryn Mawr College from where she graduated in 1928.

She had five brothers and sisters. She was the second youngest and it left an permanent mark on her life when her older brother, Tom, was discovered dead, hanging from their aunt's attic.

When at university she met Ludlow Smith and married him the year she graduated. However, the marriage just lasted six years and they were divorced in 1934. However, what was to have more impact on her life than meeting a husband was the interest she acquired for the theatre.

When at university, Katharine Hepburn took an active interest in the arts and the theatre and even played roles in two productions after her final exams. This motivated her to become an actress and she moved to New York to study acting. Her first break was in the New York production of "The Big Pond", although it was not received well. She was fired from the show, but easily got work in other Broadway shows.

Her big break was the 1932 Broadway production called 'The Warrior's Husband'. Her performance led to a lot of approbation and numerous screen checks, one of which resulted in her landing a role in the 932 film 'A Bill of Divorcement'. She got rave reviews and never looked back. In 1933, she won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her part in 'Morning Glory'.

After this, she returned to New York for a time, but nothing major came her way, so she retried Hollywood, here she got her second Oscar nomination for 'Stage Door' in 1937. Her career saw a number of bad dips in the late Thirties and she was starting to get a reputation of being 'box office poison'.

She returned to Broadway for the 'Philadelphia Story' which was a big success. She bought the film rights and took it to Hollywood, where she earned a further Oscar nomination and she was a big name all over again by 1940.

Not long afterwards, Katharine Hepburn began in a film with Spencer Tracy called 'Woman of the Year' and this was the starting of a run of eight successful films with Tracy which spanned 25 years

During her most successful days of the Forties and Fifties, Hepburn won two Oscars and  seven Oscar nominations. In the Seventies she commenced making TV movies and even won an Emmy for 'Among the Ruins', which featured Sir Lawrence Olivier.

The only romance that Katharine Hepburn ever admitted to after her husband was with Spencer Tracy, but she never married again. In her last few years, she became a hermit and died at home on June, 29th 2003 at the age of 96.

by +Owen Jones