Friday, 21 June 2013

Katharine Hepburn 1907-2003

On 29th June 2013 it will be 10 years since the Academy award winning film, stage and television actress Katharine Hepburn died.

Born on 12th May 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, Katharine Houghton Hepburn was raised in a well-to-do family, her father being a doctor, whilst her mother was a suffragette.

The young Katharine was very much a tomboy and was encouraged by her parents to always speak her mind. In years to come, she became globally famous, not only for her successful acting career, but also for her headstrong independence and somewhat spirited personality.

Winning a record 4 Academy awards for Best Actress, the "First Lady of Cinema" decided to make her career as an actor whilst studying at Bryn Mawr College close to Philadelphia, where she appeared in many productions.

In "Rooster Cogburn"
Soon after graduation, she started gaining small parts on Broadway and after getting regularly noticed, these soon became roles in movies, signing a contract with RKO in 1932.

She won her first Academy award in 1934 for "Morning Glory" when starring opposite Douglas Fairbanks Jnr,
but soon became known for her haughty behaviour where she refused to pose for pictures or to give interviews. 

It wasn't long before her lack of popularity with the press soon rubbed off on movie and theatre goers causing her fame to plummet.

But after returning to Broadway to star in "The Philadelphia Story" she bought the movie rights to the production and was rewarded with a Hollywood smash hit.
Poster for "Woman of the Year"

For her next film in 1942 ("Woman of the Year""), she starred alongside Spencer Tracy with whom she went on to star in eight more films over a 25 year + span and conducted a long term off screen romance, (even though he remained married throughout this time).

Her 2nd Academy success came in her final film with Tracy which was completed just a few weeks before his death. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" which also featured Sidney Poitier, also brought BAFTA awards for both leading actors (posthumously in Tracy's case).
Starring in "Love Affair"

Her 3rd Best Actress accolade came just a year later for "The Lion in Winter" starring alongside Peter O'Toole and Anthony Hopkins - a movie that gains an impressive 8 out of 10 IMDB rating (and happens to be Tatty's favourite film of hers).

The 4th and record breaking Oscar came in 1982 when starring in "On Golden Pond" with Henry Fonda and his daughter Jane.

Her last feature film came in 1994 when starring with Warren Beattie and Annette Bening in "Love Affair" (see image) although later in that same year she did appear in a made-for-TV movie "One Christmas" with Henry Winkler and Swoosie Kurtz.

Soon after, as her health declined, she retired from public life and eventually passed away at the age of 96 in her beloved Connecticut on 29th June 2003. 

A week after her death, as a tribute, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for an hour in her honour.

The "Great Kate" will always be remembered for her feisty outlook, not only in her career but throughout her life in general. 

Being very much of a show-off and with her distinctive way of speaking, angular features and her outspoken personality, Katharine Hepburn was one of the brightest and it has to be said, more fascinating actors of her generation. 

So what was your favourite Katharine Hepburn movie? 
Please feel free to comment.....

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