Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn: Hollywood’s Most Famous Couple

*Includes pictures. *Includes Hepburn and Tracy’s quotes about their lives and careers. *Includes a bibliography for further reading. “Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a livin…

*Includes pictures.
*Includes Hepburn and Tracy’s quotes about their lives and careers.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
“Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four. ” – Katharine Hepburn
Of all the screen legends whose names remain synonymous with Hollywood, few took as long to become a star as Spencer Tracy, who is today recognized as one of the greatest actors ever but whose career did not truly take off until he was already in his mid-30s. After languishing with Fox for 5 years and over two dozen movies, one biographer had summed up his career to that point in time : “Tracy was scarcely a blip on the box office barometer in 1935, a critics’ darling and little more. “
However, after joining MGM in 1935, Tracy catapulted to fame with one of the most impressive runs in Hollywood history, winning Oscars for Best Actor in 1938 and 1939 after already being nominated in 1937. Over the next three decades, Tracy would appear in classics like Captains Courageous and Judgment at Nuremburg, appear in 9 films with Katharine Hepburn, and receive 9 Oscar nominations over a span of 32 years, including for his final film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Several contemporaries considered Tracy the greatest actor of his era, a sentiment summed up by actor Richard Widmark, who once said, “He’s the greatest movie actor there ever was. . . I’ve learned more about acting from watching Tracy than in any other way. ”
Tracy’s career earned him an unbelievable number of accolades, and a place in the American Film Institute’s Top 10 actors of the 20th century, but it’s also an open question how much more he could have accomplished without a litany of health problems brought on by alcohol. Even as he went years at a time without drinking, the effects gradually wore him down physically, and by his early 60’s, he needed full-time care, provided mostly by his most famous co-star and lover, Katharine Hepburn. Ironically, his relationship with Hepburn has actually served to overshadow his own acting career among modern viewers, even as his acting abilities remain universally recognized.
Early in her career, there was no actress more controversial than Katharine Hepburn. By the end of her career, there was no actress more beloved than Katharine Hepburn. Famously labeled “box office poison” in 1938, it is clear that Hollywood was not prepared for the young Hepburn. Yet, even after being scorned by the general public, Hepburn still retained a magnetism that would endear her to the public for decades to come, and after a tumultuous first decade as an actress, Hepburn became arguably the biggest box office sensation in the industry. Moreover, in an era when most actresses were unable to secure starring roles after reaching middle age, Hepburn remained a leading lady even after turning 60. Hepburn acted in some capacity from the start of the 1930s through the early-1990s, and it is important to view how the nature of Hepburn’s roles changed from her youth to old age.
Aside from being one of the most recognized and acclaimed actresses in history, Hepburn’s career is also of great importance because she forced Americans to reevaluate their expectations for female behavior, both in films themselves and off the movie set as well. As society began to pay greater attention to the importance of strong roles for women, Hepburn’s career gained an even greater importance, and at a time in which women were expected to be passive, she was a fiercely individual figure who offered a daring alternative to the conventions of femininity that had long existed in American culture.
This biography profiles the lives and careers of two of Hollywood’s biggest icons. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about Tracy and Hepburn like you never have before.

Spencer Tracy

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