Katharine Hepburn: American actress 'par excellence'

Katharine Houghton Hepburn

Biography

Katharine Hepburn, daughter of Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn and Katharine Martha Houghton, was born on May 12, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut. She was raised in a family that encouraged progressive ideas and independence. Hepburn was drawn to performing from an early age and made her Broadway debut in 1928. Her early performances were not successful until 1932 when she joined a summer stock company and later played the lead role in The Warrior's Husband. This play brought her to the attention of Hollywood, and she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her first film, A Bill of Divorcement (1932). Throughout her career, she became known for playing strong, independent women and earned three more Academy Awards for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981). Hepburn continued to act in film and television throughout her life and died at the age of 96 on June 29, 2003 in Fenwick, Connecticut.

Awards and honors

Hepburn was honored with numerous awards including four Academy Awards and an Emmy Award. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her as the top female screen legend of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hepburn also received a Special Academy Award for her career achievements, the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Kennedy Center Honors.

Personal life

Hepburn married her college boyfriend, Ludlow Ogden Smith, in 1928 but they divorced in 1934. She had a long-term affair with actor Spencer Tracy, which began in 1941 and ended upon his death in 1967. Although she was in a relationship with him for 26 years, they only lived together for the last five years of Tracy's life. Hepburn never married again and lived alone in her family estate until her death in 2003. She was an avid golfer and swimmer, advocating women's rights and appearing in advertisements for weight loss meals and meditation tapes at the age of 60. She also lived a lifestyle characterized by discipline, never drinking alcohol or using cigarettes.

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