Katharine Hepburn: biography
Katharine Houghton Hepburn was a star of the American cinematography, a four-time winner of the Academy Award, which is still the record among Hollywood actors.
The future actress was born on May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Connecticut. Hepburn's ancestors were heirs of French and English Royal families. The girl's father, Thomas Norval Hepburn, was a urologist at Hartford Hospital, and her mother, Katharine Martha Houghton, a feminist campaigner fighting for Reproductive Rights, was a daughter of the director of a glass-making factory. There were six children in Katharine's family.
At the age of fourteen, Hepburn got a severe psychological trauma: her beloved brother Thomas died when he fell off the scaffolding of the family mansion, and Katharine was the first to discover the dead body. After this incident, the girl assigned her brother's date of birth to herself, which was found by accident years later.
Katharine received her higher education at the Bryn Mawr College, where she studied several foreign languages, literature, philosophy history, and exact sciences. Hepburn devoted significant attention to the sport. She became the winner of the city figure skating competition, won a second place among the tennis players of Missouri and spent a lot of time playing golf. Katharine was also part of the school theater studio.
As a result, the girl was fascinated with the theater as she managed to play in various productions well. After graduating from college in 1928, Katharine, having received $50 from her father, moved to Baltimore to fully devote herself to the stage. The next year, Hepburn moved to New York. In Maryland, Katharine played only cameo roles in the production of The Czarina and some others. Then on Broadway, the girl managed to get more vibrant characters in the plays These Days, The Big Pond, A Month in the Country, and Shooting Star, which were staged in various theaters of New York.
Hepburn began to take acting classes with the star of the theatrical stage, Frances Robinson-Duff, who compared her student's talent with Eleonora Duse's.
Non-standard aristocratic appearance, regional accent, provocative behavior aroused the interest of the audience in the young actress. Soon Katharine got the central role of the Queen of the Amazons, Antiope, in the Broadway production of 1932, The Warrior's Husband. Having gained self-confidence, Katharine decided to conquer Hollywood and in 1934 moved to California.
There, the actress tried out for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind but did not get through the audition. Philip Barry noticed the unique actress and wrote a play especially for her, and called it The Philadelphia Story. After a series of alterations, the actress together with the Broadway theater group Guild and director Robert B. Sinclair began rehearsing. To do this, she temporarily left Hollywood.
In 1939, the play was released in New Haven, and then in New York with resounding success. Both the audience and the critics approved of Katharine's acting. There were 670 shows, including performances on tour. The revenue from the production brought the owners of the theater $ 1 million, and the main character - $ 300 thousand.
When American movie companies started getting interested in buying the rights for a film adaptation of the play, it turned out, that Hepburn herself had already secured the rights. It was possible to make the deal thanks to the help of Katharine's fan, the famous aviator and producer, Howard Hughes.
The next round of professional career in the biography of the actress occurred at the turn of the 40s and the 50s. Katharine became interested in Shakespeare's drama, and for years she dived into the world of the English genius. She played several leading roles in the plays As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Antony and Cleopatra. The productions took place on the stages of the London Old Vic and The Royal Court Theatre. In the early 50s, Katharine Hepburn appeared on the stage of the London Royal National Theater in the play The Millionairess written by Bernard Shaw.
The actress was well-remembered by the role of Coco Chanel in the theatrical musical Coco by Alan Jay Lerner. Playing in a musical performance was a new experience for Katharine, but she coped with the task brilliantly and even at the audition won the heart of the director and producer of the play. At the opening night of the musical with Katharine Hepburn in the title role the creators of the production collected $ 35, 000 at the box office. The actress repeated her success in 1981, playing the central character in the lyrical, musical play The West Side Waltz.
Katharine's debut in the filming world was the motion picture A Bill of Divorcement, which came out in 1932. The producers of the film company RKO appreciated the charm and personality of the young actress, who turned second-rate scripts into masterpieces. Thus, in 1933, Katharine received her first Oscar after playing the leading role of Eva Lovelace in the film Morning Glory.
In the same year came out the comedy film Little Women, which won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival. In the mid-30s, there were again several memorable movies with Katharine's participation. The film The Little Minister, Alice Adams (nominated for an Oscar), Mary of Scotland, and Stage Door. And the famous animator Walt Disney took the image of Katharine Hepburn as a prototype for the creation of the cartoon Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.
After the failure of another comedy film in 1938, Hepburn decided to take a break and resumed work in Hollywood only in 1940. Hepburn's return to the screen was a triumph: her performance of Tracy Samantha Lord in the film adaptation of The Philadelphia Story brought an Oscar nomination to the young actress.
Two years later, the actress starred in the movie Woman of the Year, where she met the love of her life, Spencer Tracy. The actors managed to produce a marvelous creative union not only on camera but in real life too. They starred in eight more pictures together. Among them were the movies Without Love, The Sea of Grass, Adam's Rib, Pat and Mike, Desk Set, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
In the 50-s, the actress played in several movies, which also brought nominations for the Academy Award to her: The African Queen, Summertime, The Rainmaker. Katharine's work on the movie Suddenly, Last Summer, based on the play of the same name by Tennessee Williams, inspired the playwright to create the play The Night of the Iguana specifically for Hepburn. But the actress turned down the offer to star in the movie.
In 1973, Katharine participated in the television project The Glass Menagerie, created especially for the British audience.
The drama movie Long Day's Journey into Night, based on the play by Eugene O'Neill, revealed to the audience a different side of Katharine's talent. Hepburn received her second Oscar for the work on the movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The award ceremony coincided with the day of Spencer Tracy's death, after which the actress took another break from her work as an actress.
The situation was saved by actor Peter O'Toole, who offered Katharine the role of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in the historical drama movie The Lion in Winter. The mature role performed by Hepburn was received well by film critics, and the actress held an Oscar for the third time at the Academy Awards ceremony.
The actress received her last precious Academy Award already in 1982, for the role of Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond. Even in old age, Katharine was able to work tirelessly with high productivity. Her age did not affect either her memory or creative talent, as it can be proven by a large number of awards received when she was 80-90 years old. The next Golden Globe Award was presented to the actress in 1993 for her work in the comedy film The Man Upstairs.
Katharine Hepburn's work was as fruitful on the television as it was on the big screen. Katharine received Emmy nominations for her performance in the television films The Glass Menagerie, The Corn is Green, and Love Among the Ruins. The television projects Laura Lansing Slept Here, The Man Upstairs, This Can't Be Love, Love Affair, and One Christmas starring the 80-year-old celebrity were enormously famous back in the late '80s and '90s.
In 1993, the autobiographical documentary film Katharine Hepburn: All About Me, in which Katharine played herself, was released on television. In the early '90s, Hepburn's biography Me: Stories of My Life and the memoirs The Making of the African Queen: Or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind were published.
The first and only time Katharine Hepburn got married was when she was 23 years old. She went down the aisle with her childhood friend, a Philadelphia broker, Ludlow Ogden Smith, with whom she settled in New York. The young husband did not forbid Katharine to work in the theater, but when she decided to go to Hollywood, he broke up with her. In 1934, young people officially got divorced in Yucatán. Even though the marriage was short-lived and the couple did not have any children together, Ludlow supported his first wife morally and financially all his life, considering her to be a big spoiled child.
Katharine didn't care much about morals. She quickly started affairs and parted with her admirers. Among the sweethearts of the actress were billionaire Howard Hughes, Broadway producer Leland Hayward, and legendary Hollywood director John Ford. With Hughes, Katharine lived for a year in his Los Angeles mansion and even introduced the potential fiancée to her parents. But something went wrong in the relationship of two geniuses.
In 1942, in the movie Woman of the Year, Katharine met Spencer Tracy and forgot about all her other admirers forever. From now on, Katharine devoted her spare time and work to one person, but she could not make it official, as he was married and was not willing to file for divorce. Two children were growing up in Tracy's family, and the eldest son was born deaf. Katharine behaved very tactfully and never talked about their love affair in public.
In 1962, when Spencer came down with a severe illness, Hepburn took care of him alternately with Spencer's wife, Louise. In 1967, Katharine was trying to cope with the death of her beloved Spencer. She could not move on from this loss and never more dived into a new relationship. In 1983, after the death of Louise, Tracy Hepburn allowed herself to talk about her lover for the first time openly.
Since the mid-90s, the actress gradually went into the shadows. Her health was deteriorating; she started struggling with arthritis, Parkinson's disease, and conjunctivitis. Because of the problem with joints, the actress decided to go through a hip prosthesis operation. In the late 90's Katharine moved to a mansion in the town of Old Saybrook, which she bought with the money from selling the house in Manhattan. Until the last days, the actress looked charming, as can be seen on a few photos of the last period of life.
Besides age-related diseases, Hepburn found a lump on her neck that the doctors were hesitant to operate on. The heart of the legend of the world film industry stopped on June 29, 2003, in her sleep. Three days later, in memory of Hepburn, the lights of Broadway were extinguished for a couple of hours.
In a short time after her death, Hepburn's lawyer estimated that her net worth at $20 million.
Katharine Hepburn's quotes
The most famous quotes by Katharine Hepburn:
'I have no romantic feelings about age. Either you are interesting at any age, or you are not. There is nothing particularly interesting about being old - or being young, for that matter.'
'If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.'
'I don't care what is written about me as long as it isn't true.'
'I agree that I am old-fashioned. But old-fashioned people hold the entire universe, and bores and nerds become heroes.'
'I think most of the people involved in any art always secretly wonder whether they are there because they're good or there because they're lucky.'
- Morning Glory - 1933
- Little Women - 1933
- Mary Of Scotland - 1936
- The Philadelphia Story - 1940
- Woman of the Year - 1942
- The Sea of Grass - 1947
- The African Queen - 1951
- Pat and Mike - 1952
- The Rainmaker - 1956
- Suddenly, Last summer - 1959
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - 1967
- Lion in Winter - 1968
- On Golden Pond - 1981