Born on May 12, 1907 in Hartford, CT Katharina Houghton Hepburn was the best of the best actresses that Hollywood has seen. She was born to a highly respectable family, the mother being a feminist and a suffragist. He father was a doctor who led a struggle against the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Both her parents endorsed the birth control. Katharine owes her life to her parents for her upbringing that gave her enough freedom to be adventurous in life. She had 5 siblings one elder to her and four younger than her. One of the traumatic experiences of life was when her elder brother Tom died hanging by her aunt’s attic. The incident had left an indelible trauma, which haunted her for years.
Hepburn went to Bryn Mawr College and she graduated in 1928 from there. She happened to meet Ludlow Smith in the college and she married him the same year she graduated. But the marriage didn’t last too long and they got divorced in 1934. During her student days at the college she took active participation in theatre arts and she even appeared in 2 theatrical productions after her senior year in Baltimore, MD. Then she moved to New York and began training as an actor. She got her first break in theater in her first New York Production “The Big Pond”. But that didn’t go well and she was discontinued from the show only after one showing. But there was no dearth of work for her and she regularly worked in Broadway shows.
The turning point in her life came when she did a Broadway show in 1932 called “The Warrior’s Husband” in which her performance was greatly appreciated and thus led her to many screen tests. She eventually ended up getting a role in the film “A Bill of Divorcement” released in 1932. She won rave reviews for her role in the film and there was no looking back for her after that. Many production houses lined up at her home to cast them in their movies. She had an excellent run of movies in 1930’s which included her first Academy Award winning movie “Morning Glory” in 1933 for which she won the award for best actress. What better start can an actor get, being only a year old and winning an Oscar.
In the same year i.e. 1933 she again returned to New York Theater and worked in the Broadway Production “The Lake”. The show didn’t do many wonders to her career in fact the show was rejected by both the audience and the critics. She returned to Hollywood again in 1935 but with little success. Until the year 1938 she only had two successes, one in “Alice Adams” released in 1935 and other in “Stage Door” released in 1937, which also gave her second Oscar nomination. But then this period included more flops than hits so much so that everybody started calling her “box office poison”. She was no more an actress in demand and was deemed as a commercial failure, which led her to return to Broadway again. She starred in “The Philadelphia Story” in 1938, which rehabilitated her career again. She gained the film rights of the show and made a movie by the same name and story in 1940 and that was a box office hit and also won her third Oscar nomination. She was back in business one more time. Her next movie was “Woman of the year”, her first with Spencer Tracy. This was just a beginning of the long association they had there after which lasted for 8 more movies and twenty-five years of romantic love affair. She was once again nominated for the best actress award for this movie.
She continued to appear in movies in 1940’s and 1950’s which resulted in her winning seven Oscar nominations and two Oscars awards for best actress for movies “Guess who’s coming” and “The Lion in Winter”. She also worked in Shakespeare plays from 1955 to 1960. In 1970’s she started making television movies and also appeared in several of them. She even won an Emmy for her role “Among the Ruins” in 1975 with Laurence Olivier. She was befittingly awarded with Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. She won another Oscar Award for best actress for her role in “On Golden Pond” released in 1982. Her last film was “Love Affair” in 1994 in which she had a guest appearance.
Although she was romantically linked with many men but she didn’t marry any of them. The only longest romance was with Spencer Tracy, which Hepburn admitted. Hepburn became less and less social in her last years of life and she remained home mostly. Katharine Hepburn passed away on June 29, 2003 at her home giving the world glorious 96 years she lived.