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Birthday: May 12, 1907
Place: Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Height: 5' 7"
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| "I'm a personality as well as an actress," Katharine Hepburn once declared. "Show me an actress who isn't a personality, and you'll show me a woman who isn't a star." Hepburn's bold, distinctive personality was apparent almost from birth. She inherited from her doctor father and suffragette mother her three most pronounced traits: an open and ever-expanding mind, a healthy body (maintained through constant rigorous exercise), and an inability to tell anything less than the truth. Hepburn was more a personality than an actress when she took the professional plunge after graduating from Bryn Mawr in 1928; her first stage parts were bits, but she always attracted attention with her distinct New England accent and her bony, sturdy frame. The actress' outspokenness lost her more jobs than she received, but, in 1932, she finally scored on Broadway with the starring role in The Warrior's Husband. She didn't want to sign the film contract offered her by RKO, so she made several "impossible" demands concerning salary and choice of scripts. The studios agreed to her terms, and, in 1932, she made her film debut opposite John Barrymore in A Bill of Divorcement (despite legends to the contrary, the stars got along quite well). Critical reaction to Hepburn's first film set the tone for the next decade: Some thought that she was the freshest and most original actress in Hollywood, while others were irritated by her mannerisms and "artificial" speech patterns. For her third film, Morning Glory (1933), Hepburn won the first of her four Oscars. But despite initial good response to her films, Hepburn lost a lot of popularity during her RKO stay because of her refusal to play the "Hollywood game." She dressed in unfashionable slacks and paraded about without makeup; refused to pose for pinup pictures, give autographs, or grant interviews; and avoided mingling with her co-workers. As stories of her arrogance and self-absorption leaked out, moviegoers responded by staying away from her films. The fact that Hepburn was a thoroughly dedicated professional — letter-perfect in lines, completely prepared and researched in her roles, the first to arrive to the set each day and the last to leave each evening — didn't matter in those days, when style superseded substance. Briefly returning to Broadway in 1933's The Lake, Hepburn received devastating reviews from the same critics who found her personality so bracing in The Warrior's Husband. The grosses on her RKO films diminished with each release — understandably so, since many of them (Break of Hearts , Mary of Scotland ) were not very good. She reclaimed the support of RKO executives after appearing in the moneymaking Alice Adams (1935) — only to lose it again by insisting upon starring in Sylvia Scarlett (1936), a curious exercise in sexual ambiguity that lost a fortune. Efforts to "humanize" the haughty Hepburn personality in Stage Door (1937) and the delightful Bringing Up Baby (1938) came too late; in 1938, she was deemed "box-office poison" by an influential exhibitor's publication. Hepburn's career might have ended then and there, but she hadn't been raised to be a quitter. She went back to Broadway in 1938 with a part written especially for her in Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story. Certain of a hit, she bought the film rights to the play; thus, when it ended up a success, she was able to negotiate her way back into Hollywood on her own terms, including her choice of director and co-stars. Produced by MGM in 1940, the film version was a box-office triumph, and Hepburn had beaten the "poison" label. In her next MGM film, Woman of the Year (1942), Hepburn co-starred with Spencer Tracy, a copacetic teaming that endured both professionally and personally until Tracy's death in 1967. After several years of off-and-on films, Hepburn scored another success with 1951's The African Queen, marking her switch from youngish sophisticates to middle-aged character leads. After 1962's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hepburn withdrew from performing for nearly five years, devoting her attention to her ailing friend and lover Tracy. She made the last of her eight screen appearances with Tracy in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), which also featured her niece Katharine Houghton. Hepburn won her second Oscar for this film, and her third the following year for A Lion in Winter; the fourth was bestowed 13 years later for On Golden Pond (1981). When she came back to Broadway for the 1969 musical Coco, Hepburn proved that the years had not mellowed her; she readily agreed to preface her first speech with a then-shocking profanity, and, during one performance, she abruptly dropped character to chew out an audience member for taking flash pictures. Hepburn made the first of her several television movies in 1975, co-starring with Sir Laurence Olivier in Love Among the Ruins — and winning an Emmy award, as well. Her last Broadway appearance was in 1976's A Matter of Gravity. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Hepburn continued to star on TV and in films, announcing on each occasion that it would be her last performance. She also began writing books and magazine articles, each of them an extension of her personality: self-centered, well-organized, succinct, and brutally frank (especially regarding herself). While she remained a staunch advocate of physical fitness, Hepburn was plagued by a progressive neurological disease which caused her head to shake uncontrollably — an affliction she blithely incorporated into her screen characters. In 1994, Warren Beatty coaxed Hepburn out of her latest retirement to appear as his aristocratic grand-aunt in Love Affair. Though appearing frailer than usual, Katharine Hepburn was in complete control of herself and her craft, totally dominating her brief scenes. And into her nineties and on the threshold of her tenth decade, Katharine Hepburn remained the consummate personality, actress, and star.On June 29, 2003 Katharine Hepburn died of natural causes in Old Saybrook, Connetticut. She was 96.
- 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]
- She 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-niece, 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 0,000, 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 ,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 ,000 while a self-portrait entitled "Breakfast in Bed and a Self-Portrait in Brisbane, Australia", fetched ,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 ,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 6,000, compared to an estimate of ,000-,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.
- 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".
- Kate Bosworth has said that Hepburn was her primary inspiration for her portrayal of Lois Lane in Superman Returns (2006).
- She thought Melanie Griffith was a good actress, but would fade away quickly. She also saw Julia Roberts as the next big thing. But the Actress she loved above all was Vanessa Redgrave. She adored every performance Ms Redgrave has ever given and would tell people that she was, "A thrill to look at and to listen to".
- Did not attend Spencer Tracy's funeral out of respect to his family.
- A resident of Manhattan's Turtle Bay Gardens for most of her life, Hepburn actually lived in a four-story brownstone at 244 East 49th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenue). Famous neighbors over the years have included, Robert Benton, Stephen Sondheim, Garson Kanin and wife Ruth Gordon
- Is the only movie star to win four Academy Awards, all for her leading roles in "Morning Glory" (1932), "Guess Who's coming to Dinner" (1967), "The Lion In the Winter" (1968), and "On Golden Pond" (1980).
- Gained an eye infection while failing to close her eyes when she was asked to fall into a Venic Canal.
- Did all her own stunts because the stunt woman never stood up straight enough.
- Is known for being an avid golfer, tennis player, and swimmer. She is also known for taking cold showers.
- Is in the Guinness World Records-book for "Most 'Best Actress' Oscars Won".
- She is a descendant of Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom she portrayed in _Lion in Winter, The_(1968)_ , through both her marriages, to King Louis VII of France and King Henry II of England.
- Was nominated 12 times for the Academy Award, all as Best Actress, winning three times. Jack Nicholson also has 12 nominations (8 as Best Actor and 4 Best Supporting Actor nominations) and three win (two Best Actor trophies and one Best Supporting Actor gong). Hepburn beat out previous acting nomination record holder Bette Davis (a double winner who was nominated 10 times for an Academy Award, all of them Best Actress nods) with her 11th nod and 3rd win for The Lion in Winter (1968) (a record she extended with her 12 nomination and fourth win for On Golden Pond (1981). Herpburn herself was surpassed by Meryl Streep, with 13 nods (11 in the Best Actress category) and two wins (one in the Best Actress category and one Best supporting actress award). While it is possible that Nicholson might equal her four Oscar acting wins, it is improbable that her record of four wins in the top category will ever be equaled, let alone surpassed.
- Is one of only four thespians to be nominated for acting honors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences over five decade: (1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s)). Only Laurence Olivier (1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s), Paul Newman ( (1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s). and ,'Jack Nicholson' (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s) have turned the trick.
- Her performance as Eleanor of Aquitaine in "The Lion in Winter" (1968) is ranked #13 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
- Her performance as Tracy Lord in "The Philadelphia Story" (1940) is ranked #54 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
- Her performance as Rose Sayer in "The African Queen" (1951) is ranked #94 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- Her performance as Susan Vance in "Bringing Up Baby" (1938) is ranked #21 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- Three films of hers are on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time. They are: "The African Queen" (1951) at #48, "On Golden Pond" (1981) at #45, and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967) at #35.
- Spoofed in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon "Little Red Walking Hood", in which Little Red Riding Hood speaks exactly like her.
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