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
Katharine 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
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