Katharine Hepburn
Overview
Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage, and television. In a career that spanned 62 years as a leading lady, she was best known for playing strong-willed, sophisticated women in both dramas and comedies. The winner of a record four Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for Best Actress, Hepburn also became a cultural icon through her independent lifestyle and spirited personality, and is acknowledged as an influential figure in the public's changing perception of women over the course of the 20th century.
Encyclopedia
Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage, and television. In a career that spanned 62 years as a leading lady, she was best known for playing strong-willed, sophisticated women in both dramas and comedies. The winner of a record four Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for Best Actress, Hepburn also became a cultural icon through her independent lifestyle and spirited personality, and is acknowledged as an influential figure in the public's changing perception of women over the course of the 20th century. She was named by the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 as the greatest female star in the history of American cinema.

Raised in Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 by wealthy, progressive parents, Hepburn turned to acting after graduation from Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College is a women's liberal arts college located in Bryn Mawr, a community in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, ten miles west of Philadelphia. The name "Bryn Mawr" means "big hill" in Welsh....

. After four years struggling in the theatre, favorable reviews of her work on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 brought her to the attention of Hollywood. Her feature debut, 1932's A Bill of Divorcement
A Bill of Divorcement
A Bill of Divorcement is a 1932 American drama film, directed by George Cukor and starring John Barrymore and Katharine Hepburn in her movie debut. It is based on the British play of the same name, written by Clemence Dane as a reaction to a law passed in Britain in the early 1920s that allowed...

, was a success and turned her into an instant star. Within 18 months, she had won an Academy Award for Morning Glory. This initial success was followed by a series of commercial failures. Her brash personality and unconventional behavior, such as wearing trousers, began to turn audiences away, and in time she was labeled "box office poison". Hepburn masterminded her own comeback, buying herself out of her contract with RKO Radio Pictures and acquiring the film rights to The Philadelphia Story
The Philadelphia Story (play)
The Philadelphia Story is a 1939 American comic play by Philip Barry. It tells the story of a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and an attractive journalist.-Production:...

, which she sold on the condition that she be the star. The movie was a hit, and Hepburn's career was successfully revived.

Her career during the 1940s leant mostly on an alliance with Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 75 films from 1930 to 1967. Tracy was one of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, ranking among the top ten box office draws for almost every year from 1938 to 1951...

, one which would last until his death in 1967. The pair made nine pictures together, and also had an enduring love affair. In the 1950s she found a niche in playing middle-aged spinsters and the public embraced Hepburn in these roles. She enjoyed a great level of success in the latter half of her life, winning three more Oscars for her work in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American drama film starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and featuring Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton...

 (1967), The Lion in Winter
The Lion in Winter (1968 film)
The Lion in Winter is a 1968 historical drama made by Avco Embassy Pictures, based on the Broadway play by James Goldman. It was directed by Anthony Harvey and produced by Joseph E...

 (1968) and On Golden Pond
On Golden Pond (1981 film)
On Golden Pond is a 1981 American drama film directed by Mark Rydell. The screenplay by Ernest Thompson was adapted from his 1979 play of the same title. Henry Fonda won the Academy Award in what was his final film role. Co-star Katharine Hepburn also received an Oscar, as did Thompson for his...

 (1981). Alongside her movie career, Hepburn regularly appeared on the stage, including numerous Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 performances. She maintained an active career into old age, mostly in television movies, and made her final screen appearance in 1994 at the age of 87.

Early life

Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

, the second of six children. Her parents were Katharine Martha Houghton
Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn
Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn was an American feminist social reformer and a leader of the suffrage movement in the United States. Hepburn served as president of the Connecticut Woman's Suffrage Association before joining the National Woman's Party. Alongside Margaret Sanger, Hepburn co-founded...

 (1878–1951), a feminist who headed the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association and later fought for birth control with Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger
Margaret Higgins Sanger was an American sex educator, nurse, and birth control activist. Sanger coined the term birth control, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established Planned Parenthood...

, and Thomas Norval Hepburn (1879–1962), a urologist at Hartford Hospital
Hartford Hospital
Hartford Hospital is an acute care hospital located in the South End of Hartford, Connecticut. The hospital was formed in 1854 after the State of Connecticut granted a charter for the Formation of Hartford Hospital following a boiler explosion and resulting fire at the Fales and Grey Car Works...

. Katharine Martha instilled in her daughter the virtues of perseverance, independence and fortitude, teaching that women were equal to men. As a child, Hepburn joined her mother on several "Votes For Women" demonstrations. Thomas Hepburn helped establish the New England Social Hygiene Association
American Social Health Association
The American Social Health Association , is an American non-profit organization established in 1914 and is dedicated to improving the health of individuals, families, and communities, with an emphasis on sexual health and a focus on preventing sexually transmitted infections and their harmful...

, which aimed to educate the public about venereal disease. The Hepburn children were raised to exercise freedom of speech, and encouraged to think and debate on any topic they wished. Her parents were criticized by the community for their progressive views, which stimulated Hepburn to fight against barriers she encountered in life. Hepburn said she realized from a young age that she was the product of "two very remarkable parents", and credited her upbringing with providing the foundation for her success. Family remained extremely important throughout her life.
The young Hepburn was a tomboy who liked to call herself Jimmy and cut her hair short like a boy's. Her father was an athlete who taught and encouraged the children to swim, run, dive, ride, wrestle, golf and play tennis. Golf became a passion. She took daily lessons and became very good, reaching the semi-final of the Connecticut Young Women's Golf Championship. She loved swimming, and took daily dips in the cold waters that fronted her bay-front home, generally believing that "the bitterer the medicine, the better it was for you." She was a fan of movies from a young age, and went to see one every Saturday night. With her friends and siblings, she would put on plays and perform to her neighbors for 50 cents a ticket to raise money for the Navajo people
Navajo people
The Navajo of the Southwestern United States are the largest single federally recognized tribe of the United States of America. The Navajo Nation has 300,048 enrolled tribal members. The Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body which manages the Navajo Indian reservation in the...

.

On April 3, 1921, while visiting friends in Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village, , , , .in New York often simply called "the Village", is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families...

, Hepburn discovered the body of her older brother Tom, whom she adored, dead from an apparent suicide. He had tied a sheet around a beam and hanged himself. The Hepburn family denied it was suicide and maintained that Tom's death must have been an experiment that had gone wrong. The incident made the teenage Hepburn nervous, moody and suspicious of people. She shied away from other children, dropped out of Oxford School
Kingswood-Oxford School
Kingswood Oxford School is a private day school located in West Hartford, Connecticut. Originally two separate schools, Kingswood School and Oxford School for boys and girls respectively, KO is now a co-educational institution and offers grades 6 through 12...

, and began receiving private tutoring. For many years, she used Tom's birthday (November 8) as her own. It was not until her 1991 autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, that Hepburn revealed her true birth date.

Hepburn gained a place at Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College is a women's liberal arts college located in Bryn Mawr, a community in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, ten miles west of Philadelphia. The name "Bryn Mawr" means "big hill" in Welsh....

, her mother's alma mater. It was the first time she had been in school in several years, and she was self-conscious and uncomfortable with her classmates. She was once suspended for smoking in her room. Hepburn was drawn to acting but roles in plays were conditional on good grades. After initial struggles with her studies, she achieved her goals. She began acting, most notably playing the lead in a production of The Woman in the Moon
The Woman in the Moon
The Woman in the Moon is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy written by John Lyly. Its unique status in that playwright's dramatic canon — it is the only play Lyly wrote in blank verse rather than prose — has presented scholars and critics with a range of questions and...

. The positive response she received in this role cemented Hepburn's plans to pursue a theatrical career. She received a degree in history and philosophy in 1928.

Breaking into theatre (1928–1932)

Hepburn left Bryn Mawr driven by ambition, determined to become an actress. A friend put her in touch with Edwin Knopf, who ran a successful theatre company in Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

. She went to see Knopf in person, taking her father's advice that "if you want to get something – don't write, don't telephone, be there yourself". Affected by her eagerness, Knopf cast Hepburn in The Czarina. She received good notices for her small role, with the Printed Word describing her as "arresting." She was given a part in the following week's show, but here Hepburn was less accomplished. She was criticized for her shrill voice, and so left Baltimore to study with an acclaimed voice tutor in New York City.
The Knopf Stock Company decided to produce The Big Pond
The Big Pond
The Big Pond is a 1930 American romantic comedy film based on a 1928 play of the same name by George Middleton and A.E. Thomas. The film was written by Garrett Fort, Robert Presnell Sr. and Preston Sturges, who provided the dialogue in his first Hollywood assignment, and was directed by Hobart...

 in New York and called for Hepburn to be the understudy to the leading lady. She had only been in the theatre for four weeks. The leading lady was fired and replaced with Hepburn. On opening night, Hepburn turned up late, mixed her lines, tripped over her feet, and spoke too high and fast to be comprehensible. She was promptly fired, and the original leading lady rehired. Undeterred, Hepburn joined forces with producer Arthur Hopkins
Arthur Hopkins
Arthur Hopkins was a Broadway theater director and producer in the early twentieth century.Hopkins was born in Cleveland. He was the youngest of ten children born to a Welsh couple, David and Mary Jane Hopkins...

, and accepted the role of a schoolgirl in These Days. It played at the Cort Theatre
Cort Theatre
The Cort Theatre is a legitimate Broadway theatre located at 138 West 48th Street in the Theatre District of midtown Manhattan in New York City...

 on Broadway, where reviews for the show were poor and it closed after only eight nights. Hopkins hired Hepburn as the understudy to Hope Williams in Philip Barry
Philip Barry
Philip James Quinn Barry was an American playwright born in Rochester, New York.-Early life:Philip Barry was born on June 18, 1896 in Rochester, New York to James Corbett Barry and Mary Agnes Quinn Barry. James would die from appendicitis a year after Philip's birth, and his father's marble and...

's play Holiday
Holiday (play)
Holiday is a 1928 play by Philip Barry. It was adapted for film twice. First in 1930, directed by Edward H. Griffith with Ann Harding, Mary Astor, Edward Everett Horton, Robert Ames and Hedda Hopper...

. After only two weeks, she quit to marry Ludlow Ogden Smith, a friend she had known since college. She planned to leave the theatre behind, but began to miss the work and quickly resumed her understudy role in Holiday.

In 1929, Hepburn turned down a role with the Theatre Guild
Theatre Guild
The Theatre Guild is a theatrical society founded in New York City in 1918 by Lawrence Langner, Philip Moeller, Helen Westley and Theresa Helburn. Langner's wife, Armina Marshall, then served as a co-director. It evolved out of the work of the Washington Square Players.Its original purpose was to...

 to play the lead in Death Takes a Holiday
Death Takes a Holiday
Death Takes a Holiday is a 1934 romantic drama starring Fredric March, Evelyn Venable and Guy Standing, based on the Italian play La Morte in Vacanze by Alberto Casella.-Synopsis:...

. She felt the role was perfect, but again she was fired for voice problems. Hepburn went back to the Guild and took an understudy role for minimum pay in A Month in the Country
A Month in the Country (play)
A Month in the Country is a comedy in five acts by Ivan Turgenev. It was written in France between 1848 and 1850 and was first published in 1855...

. In the spring of 1930, Hepburn joined the Alexander Kirkland & Strickland Stock Company in Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Stockbridge is a town in Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,947 at the 2010 census...

. She left half-way through the summer season, and continued seeing a tutor to improve her voice. In early 1931, she was cast in Art and Mrs. Bottle. She was released from the role after the playwright took a dislike to her, saying "She looks a fright, her manner is objectionable, and she has no talent", but then rehired when no other actress could be found. It went on to be a small success.

Hepburn appeared in a number of plays with a summer stock
Summer Stock
For the article about the theatre genre, see Summer stock theatre.Summer Stock is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical made in 1950. The film was directed by Charles Walters and stars Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Eddie Bracken, Gloria DeHaven, Marjorie Main, and Phil Silvers...

 company in Ivoryton, Connecticut, and she proved to be a great hit. During the summer of 1931, Philip Barry
Philip Barry
Philip James Quinn Barry was an American playwright born in Rochester, New York.-Early life:Philip Barry was born on June 18, 1896 in Rochester, New York to James Corbett Barry and Mary Agnes Quinn Barry. James would die from appendicitis a year after Philip's birth, and his father's marble and...

 asked her to appear in his new play, The Animal Kingdom, alongside Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard (actor)
Leslie Howard was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer. Among his best-known roles was Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind and roles in Berkeley Square , Of Human Bondage , The Scarlet Pimpernel , The Petrified Forest , Pygmalion , Intermezzo , Pimpernel Smith...

. They began rehearsals in November, Hepburn feeling sure this was the role to make her a star, but Howard disliked the actress and she was again fired. When asking Barry why this was, he responded, "Well, to be brutally frank, you weren't very good." This unsettled the self-assured Hepburn, but she continued to look for work. She took a small role in an upcoming play, but as rehearsals began she received an offer to read for the lead role in the Greek fable The Warrior's Husband.

The Warrior's Husband proved to be Hepburn's break-out role. She was ideal for the part, which called for an aggressive energy and athleticism, and she enthusiastically involved herself with its production, bombarding the director with suggestions. It opened in March 1932 at the Morosco Theatre
Morosco Theatre
The Morosco Theatre was a legitimate theatre located at 217 West 45th Street in the heart of the theater district in midtown-Manhattan, New York, United States....

 on Broadway. Hepburn's stage entrance called for her to leap down a narrow stairway with a stag over her shoulder, wearing a short silver tunic. The show ran for three months, and Hepburn received strong reviews.

Instant success in Hollywood (1932–1934)

A scout for Leland Hayward
Leland Hayward
Leland Hayward was a Hollywood and Broadway agent and theatrical producer. He produced the original Broadway stage productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific and The Sound of Music.-Early years:...

 spotted Hepburn's appearance in The Warrior's Husband, and asked her to test for the part of Sydney Fairfield in the upcoming RKO film A Bill of Divorcement
A Bill of Divorcement
A Bill of Divorcement is a 1932 American drama film, directed by George Cukor and starring John Barrymore and Katharine Hepburn in her movie debut. It is based on the British play of the same name, written by Clemence Dane as a reaction to a law passed in Britain in the early 1920s that allowed...

. Hepburn was unhappy with her test scene, and sent material from her performance in Holiday instead. Knowing that she was popular, she demanded $1,500 per week for the work. This was a large amount for a first role, but after seeing her screen test, director George Cukor
George Cukor
George Dewey Cukor was an American film director. He mainly concentrated on comedies and literary adaptations. His career flourished at RKO and later MGM, where he directed What Price Hollywood? , A Bill of Divorcement , Dinner at Eight , Little Women , David Copperfield , Romeo and Juliet and...

 encouraged the studio to accept her demands and they signed Hepburn to a temporary contract with a three week guarantee. RKO head David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick was an American film producer. He is best known for having produced Gone with the Wind and Rebecca , both of which earned him an Oscar for Best Picture.-Early years:...

 recounted that he took a "tremendous chance" in casting the unusual actress.

In July 1932, aged 25, Hepburn arrived in California. She starred in A Bill of Divorcement opposite legendary actor John Barrymore
John Barrymore
John Sidney Blyth , better known as John Barrymore, was an acclaimed American actor. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III...

, showing no sign of intimidation. Although she struggled to adapt to the nature of film acting, Hepburn was fascinated by the industry from the start. The picture was a success and Hepburn received rave reviews. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 described her performance as "exceptionally fine … Miss Hepburn's characterization is one of the finest seen on the screen". Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

 wrote, "Standout here is the smash impression made by Katharine Hepburn in her first picture assignment. She has a vital something that sets her apart from the picture galaxy." With a promising future seemingly ahead, RKO signed the actress to a long-term contract. George Cukor became a lifetime friend and colleague and they proceeded to make a total of 10 films together.
Hepburn's second film was set to be Three Came Unarmed, based on E. Arnot Robertson
E. Arnot Robertson
Eileen Arbuthnot Robertson was a British novelist, critic and broadcaster.-Family:...

's novel, but the project was shelved and she was cast in Christopher Strong
Christopher Strong
Christopher Strong is a 1933 RKO film, directed by Dorothy Arzner and starring Katharine Hepburn in her second screen role. The screenplay by Zoë Akins is adapted from the novel by Gilbert Frankau.-Synopsis:...

 (1933), the story of an aviatrix and her affair with a married man. The picture was not commercially successful, but Hepburn did receive strong reviews. Regina Crewe wrote in the Journal American
New York Journal American
The New York Journal American was a newspaper published from 1937 to 1966. The Journal American was the product of a merger between two New York newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst: The New York American , a morning paper, and the New York Evening Journal, an afternoon paper...

 that although her mannerisms were grating, "they compel attention, and they fascinate an audience. She is a distinct definite, positive personality – the first since [Greta] Garbo." Her third picture confirmed Hepburn as a major actress in Hollywood. For playing aspiring actress Eva Lovelace in Morning Glory, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

. She had seen the script on the desk of producer Pandro Berman and, convinced that she was born to play the part, insisted that the role be hers. Hepburn chose not to attend the awards ceremony, a choice she would follow for the duration of her career, but was thrilled with the win. Her success continued with the role of Jo in the screen adaptation of
Little Women (1933 film)
Little Women is a 1933 American drama film directed by George Cukor. The screenplay by Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman is based on the classic novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott...

 Little Women
Little Women
Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott . The book was written and set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts. It was published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869...

 (1933). The movie was an enormous hit, one of the film industry's biggest successes to date, and Hepburn won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the...

. Little Women was one of Hepburn's personal favorites and she was proud of her performance, later saying "I defy anyone to be as good as I was in Little Women ... my personality was like hers ... this part suited my exaggerated sense of things."

By the end of 1933 Hepburn was at the top of her profession, but yearned to prove herself on Broadway. Jed Harris
Jed Harris
Jed Harris was a renowned Austrian-American theater producer and director, and writer of film.-Personal history:...

, one of the most successful theatre producers of the 1920s, was experiencing a slump in his career. He asked Hepburn to appear in the play The Lake
The Lake
The Lake was a British play written by Dorothy Massingham and Murray MacDonald. It debuted on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on December 26, 1933 and was one of acting legend Katharine Hepburn's first major Broadway roles....

 and she agreed to do the play for a low salary as a favor. Before she was given leave, RKO asked that she film the movie Spitfire
Spitfire (1934 film)
Spitfire is a 1934 drama film based on the play Trigger by Lula Vollmer. It was directed by John Cromwell and starred Katharine Hepburn, Robert Young and Ralph Bellamy.-Plot summary:...

 (1934). Here Hepburn played Trigger Hicks, an uneducated Ozark
The Ozarks
The Ozarks are a physiographic and geologic highland region of the central United States. It covers much of the southern half of Missouri and an extensive portion of northwestern and north central Arkansas...

 faith healer. She demanded $50,000 for four weeks of work, and the movie was a flop. Widely considered one of her worst films, Hepburn kept a picture of herself as Trigger in her bedroom as a reminder. She noted, "Hicks keeps me humble."

The Lake opened in Washington, D.C., at the end of 1933, where there was a large advance sale. Harris's poor direction had eroded Hepburn's confidence, and she struggled with the performance. Despite this, Harris moved the play to New York without further rehearsal. The play was another grand flop, and Hepburn was slated by the critics. Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles....

 quipped, "Katharine Hepburn runs the gamut of emotions from A to B." The actress had already signed a ten-week contract, and had to endure the embarrassment of rapidly declining box office sales. Harris decided to take the show to Chicago, saying to Hepburn, "My dear, the only interest I have in you is the money I can make out of you." Hepburn refused, and paid Harris $14,000 to close the production instead. She later referred to Harris as "hands-down the most diabolical person I have ever met", and claimed this experience was important in teaching her to take responsibility for her career.

Career struggles, "box office poison" (1934–1938)

In an attempt to replicate her triumph in Little Women, RKO cast Hepburn in The Little Minister
The Little Minister
The Little Minister is a 1934 American drama film directed by Richard Wallace. The screenplay by Jane Murfin, Sarah Y. Mason, and Victor Heerman is based on the 1891 novel and subsequent 1897 play of the same title by J. M. Barrie. It was the fifth feature film adaptation of the works, following...

 (1934), based on a Victorian novel by James Barrie. It was not well received, and it seemed that Hepburn was only a hit in hit pictures; she could not save a flop. Her next film was the romantic drama Break of Hearts
Break of Hearts
Break of Hearts is a 1935 RKO film starring Katharine Hepburn and Charles Boyer. The screenplay was written by the team of Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman, with Anthony Veiller, from a story by Lester Cohen, specifically for Hepburn....

 (1935) with Charles Boyer
Charles Boyer
Charles Boyer was a French actor who appeared in more than 80 films between 1920 and 1976. After receiving an education in drama, Boyer started on the stage, but he found success in movies during the 1930s. His memorable performances were among the era's most highly praised romantic dramas,...

. It garnered Hepburn her worst reviews to date, and fared poorly at the box office. After three forgettable movies, success returned to Hepburn with Alice Adams
Alice Adams (film)
Alice Adams, also known as Booth Tarkington's Alice Adams, is a 1935 romantic film made by RKO. It was directed by George Stevens and produced by Pandro S. Berman from a screenplay by Dorothy Yost, Mortimer Offner adapted by Jane Murfin from the novel, Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington...

 (1935), the story of a girl's desperation to climb the social ladder. Hepburn loved the book and was delighted to be offered the role. The picture, directed by George Stevens
George Stevens
George Stevens was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer.Among his most notable films were Diary of Anne Frank , nominated for Best Director, Giant , winner of Oscar for Best Director, Shane , Oscar nominated, and A Place in the Sun , winner of Oscar for Best...

, was a big hit, one of Hepburn's personal favorites, and gave the actress her second Oscar nomination.

With Hepburn back on top, Berman allowed her to pick her next feature. She chose George Cukor's new project, Sylvia Scarlett
Sylvia Scarlett
Sylvia Scarlett is a 1935 romantic comedy film starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, based on The Early Life and Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett‎, a novel by Compton MacKenzie. Directed by George Cukor, it was notorious as one of the most famous unsuccessful movies of the 1930s...

 (1935), which paired her for the first time with Cary Grant
Cary Grant
Archibald Alexander Leach , better known by his stage name Cary Grant, was an English actor who later took U.S. citizenship...

. It was a showy role for Hepburn, whose hair was cut like a boy's for the part as her character masquerades as a boy for much of the film. Yet it was a commercial failure, and Hepburn and everyone else involved considered it awful. Her next three features were also unsuccessful. She played Mary Stuart in John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

's Mary of Scotland
Mary of Scotland (film)
Mary of Scotland is a 1936 RKO film starring Katharine Hepburn as the 16th century ruler, Mary, Queen of Scots. Directed by John Ford, it is an adaptation of the 1933 Maxwell Anderson play by Dudley Nichols. The play starred Helen Hayes as Mary...

 (1936), but Ford quickly lost interest in the project and it flopped at the box office. A Woman Rebels
A Woman Rebels
A Woman Rebels is a 1936 RKO film adapted from the novel Portrait of a Rebel by Netta Syrett and starring Katharine Hepburn as Pamela Thistlewaite, who rebels against the social mores of Victorian England...

 (1937) followed, a Victorian costume drama in which Hepburn's character defies the conventions of the day and has a child out of wedlock. Her next film, Quality Street
Quality Street (film)
Quality Street is a 1937 period comedy film made by RKO. It was directed by George Stevens and produced by Pandro S. Berman. The screenplay was by Allan Scott, Mortimer Offner and Jack Townley, based on the 1901 play by James M. Barrie...

 (1937), also had a period setting, this time a comedy. Neither movie was popular with the public, making, as Hepburn herself put it, "four skunks in a row."

Alongside a series of unpopular films, problems arose from Hepburn's attitude. She had a famously difficult relationship with the press, with whom she could be rude and provocative. When asked if she had any children, she snapped back "Yes I have five, two white and three colored." She would not give interviews and denied requests for autographs, earning her the nickname "Katharine of Arrogance" (an allusion to Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

). The public were also baffled by her boyish behavior and fashion choices, and she became a largely unpopular figure. Hepburn sensed that she needed to leave Hollywood, so returned east to star in a theatrical adaptation of Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published in London, England, in 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. with the title Jane Eyre. An Autobiography under the pen name "Currer Bell." The first American edition was released the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York...

. They played in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Washington, where it was a popular and financial success, but feeling uncertain with the script and unwilling to risk failure after the disaster of The Lake, Hepburn decided against taking the show to Broadway. Around this time, Hepburn vied for the role of Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett O' Hara is the protagonist in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and in the later film of the same name...

 in Gone With The Wind
Gone with the Wind (film)
Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard...

. Producer David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick was an American film producer. He is best known for having produced Gone with the Wind and Rebecca , both of which earned him an Oscar for Best Picture.-Early years:...

 refused to offer her the part because she had no sex appeal. He reportedly told Hepburn, "I can't see Rhett Butler chasing you for twelve years."
Berman convinced RKO to make one more attempt at reviving Hepburn's movie career. Stage Door
Stage Door
Stage Door is a RKO film, adapted from the play by the same name, that tells the story of several would-be actresses who live together in a boarding house at 158 West 58th Street in New York City. The film stars Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Adolphe Menjou, Gail Patrick, Constance Collier,...

 (1937) paired Hepburn with Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who appeared in film, and on stage, radio, and television throughout much of the 20th century....

 in a role that mirrored her own life—that of a wealthy society girl trying to make it as an actress. Director Gregory La Cava
Gregory La Cava
Gregory La Cava was an American film director best known for his films of the 1930s, including My Man Godfrey and Stage Door....

 chose to take lines from The Lake for the play featured in the film, allowing Hepburn to confront her career frustrations and make fun of her biggest failure. Hepburn was praised for her work at early previews, which gave her top-billing over Rogers, but the film was a box office disappointment. Industry pundits blamed Hepburn for the small profit margin, but RKO, happy that she was at least back from intense unpopularity, continued its effort to reverse the trend. The studio cast her in the screwball comedy
Screwball Comedy
Screwball Comedy is an album by the Japanese band Soul Flower Union. The album found the band going into a simpler, harder-rocking direction, after several heavily world-music influenced albums.-Track listing:...

 Bringing Up Baby
Bringing up Baby
Bringing Up Baby is an American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and released by RKO Radio Pictures....

 (1938). Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks
Howard Winchester Hawks was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era...

 directed and Cary Grant was again her co-star, now Hollywood's number one romantic-comedy actor after the success of The Awful Truth
The Awful Truth
The Awful Truth is a 1937 screwball comedy film starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. The plot concerns the machinations of a soon-to-be-divorced couple, played by Dunne and Grant, who go to great lengths to try to ruin each other's romantic escapades...

. Hepburn's strong body allowed her to play the physical comedy of the film with confidence, and the actress took tips on comedic timing from her experienced co-star Walter Catlett
Walter Catlett
Walter Catlett was an American actor. As a San Francisco citizen, he started out in vaudeville with a detour for a while in opera before breaking into films.-Early career:...

. Critics liked the film, but it was nevertheless unsuccessful at the box office. With the genre and Grant both hugely popular at the time, blame lay with Hepburn.

Bringing up Baby was the last picture Hepburn did at RKO. By this point, the Independent Theatre Owners of America included Hepburn on a list of actors considered "Box Office Poison". The next film RKO offered her was Mother Carey's Chickens, an obviously inferior "B Movie
B movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

" that signified that the studio had lost interest in the actress. Hepburn turned it down, and instead opted to buy herself out of her contract for $75,000. Many actors of the time were afraid to leave the stability of the studio system
Studio system
The studio system was a means of film production and distribution dominant in Hollywood from the early 1920s through the early 1960s. The term studio system refers to the practice of large motion picture studios producing movies primarily on their own filmmaking lots with creative personnel under...

, but Hepburn's personal wealth meant she could afford to be independent. She signed on to do the film version of Holiday
Holiday (1938 film)
Holiday is a 1938 is a film directed by George Cukor, a remake of the 1930 film of the same name. The film is a romantic comedy which tells the story of a man who has risen from humble beginnings only to be torn between his free-thinking lifestyle and the tradition of his wealthy fiancée's family...

 (1938) with Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production and distribution company. Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. It is one of the leading film companies...

, another comedy with Grant. The character of Linda Seton, the same role she had understudied on Broadway ten years earlier, suited Hepburn perfectly, a liberated society girl who rebels against convention, and the film was well received by critics. Even so, it was too late to compensate for the previous flops and overcome the negative publicity, and it flopped at the box office. The next script she received offered a salary of only $10,000—less than she had been receiving at the start of her film career. Her career trajectory in the 1930s was dramatic, with Britton writing: "No other star has emerged with greater rapidity or with more ecstatic acclaim. No other star, either, has become so unpopular so quickly for so long a time."

Revival (1939–1942)

Following this decline in her career, Hepburn took action to create her own comeback vehicle. She signed on to star in friend Philip Barry's new play, The Philadelphia Story
The Philadelphia Story (play)
The Philadelphia Story is a 1939 American comic play by Philip Barry. It tells the story of a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and an attractive journalist.-Production:...

, which was tailored to showcase the actress. Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world...

, with whom she was in a relationship, bought the film rights
Film rights
Film rights are the rights under copyright law to make a derivative work—in this case, a film—derived from an item of intellectual property. Under U.S...

 for Hepburn before the play had even opened, knowing it could be her ticket back to Hollywood stardom. The pair also contributed a quarter of its production costs. The play first toured the United States, to rave reviews, and then opened in New York at the Schubert Theatre on March 29, 1939. It was a big hit, critically and financially, running for 417 performances and then going on a second successful tour.

All the major film studios approached Hepburn to produce the movie version of Barry's play. She chose to sell the rights to MGM, Hollywood's number one studio, on the condition that she be the star. As part of the deal she also received the director of her choice, George Cukor
George Cukor
George Dewey Cukor was an American film director. He mainly concentrated on comedies and literary adaptations. His career flourished at RKO and later MGM, where he directed What Price Hollywood? , A Bill of Divorcement , Dinner at Eight , Little Women , David Copperfield , Romeo and Juliet and...

, but the co-stars she wanted, Clark Gable
Clark Gable
William Clark Gable , known as Clark Gable, was an American film actor most famous for his role as Rhett Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic film Gone with the Wind, in which he starred with Vivien Leigh...

 and Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 75 films from 1930 to 1967. Tracy was one of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, ranking among the top ten box office draws for almost every year from 1938 to 1951...

, were both unavailable. Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer
Louis Burt Mayer born Lazar Meir was an American film producer. He is generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in its golden years. Known always as Louis B...

 promised her James Stewart
James Stewart
James Stewart was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart may also refer to:-Noblemen:*James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland*James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn James Stewart (1908–1997) was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart...

 and $150,000 "for anyone else you want or can get." Hepburn chose her friend and previous co-star, Cary Grant
Cary Grant
Archibald Alexander Leach , better known by his stage name Cary Grant, was an English actor who later took U.S. citizenship...

. Before filming began, Hepburn shrewdly noted, "I don't want to make a grand entrance in this picture. Moviegoers ... think I'm too la-di-da or something. A lot of people want to see me fall flat on my face." Thus the film began with the actress being knocked flat onto her backside by Cary Grant. The movie also came with the highest production values available, including gowns by top designer Adrian
Adrian (costume designer)
Adrian Adolph Greenberg , most widely known as Adrian, was an American costume designer whose most famous costumes were for The Wizard of Oz and other Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films of the 1930s and 1940s. During his career, he designed costumes for over 250 films and his screen credits usually read as...

 that made Hepburn look more glamorous than she had before. The effect was to "recreate Katharine Hepburn" in the eyes of her audience. The resulting film was one of the biggest hits of 1940, breaking records at the Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall is an entertainment venue located in New York City's Rockefeller Center. Its nickname is the Showplace of the Nation, and it was for a time the leading tourist destination in the city...

. Hepburn's career was revived almost overnight: Time wrote "Come on back, Katie, all is forgiven." Variety stated in their review, "It's Katharine Hepburn's picture ... The perfect conception of all flighty but characterful Main Line socialite gals rolled into one, the story without her is almost inconceivable ... it's no one but Hepburn." For her role as spoiled but misunderstood socialite Tracy Lord, Hepburn was nominated for her third Academy Award for Best Actress and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
The New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress is one of the awards given by the New York Film Critics Circle to honor the finest achievements in filmmaking.-1930s:-1940s:-1950s:-1960s:-1970s:-1980s:-1990s:-2000s:-2010s:...

.

Hepburn was also responsible for the development of her next project, the romantic comedy Woman of the Year
Woman of the Year
Woman of the Year is a romantic comedy film. The movie is about an emancipated woman, chosen "Woman of the Year", and her colleague-turned-husband and their efforts to negotiate a path to marital bliss....

 (1942). The idea for the film was proposed to her by friend Garson Kanin
Garson Kanin
Garson Kanin was a prolific American writer and director of plays and films.-Film and stage career:...

. Hepburn then passed the outline for the film to Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph Leo Mankiewicz was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career and is best known as the writer-director of All About Eve , which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six. He was brother to screenwriter and drama critic Herman J...

 at MGM, asking for $250,000, half for her, half for the script—a record at that time. He liked it and agreed to produce the movie. Hepburn contributed significantly to the script, reading it, suggesting cuts and word changes, and generally providing helpful enthusiasm for the project. In line with Hepburn's request, George Stevens
George Stevens
George Stevens was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer.Among his most notable films were Diary of Anne Frank , nominated for Best Director, Giant , winner of Oscar for Best Director, Shane , Oscar nominated, and A Place in the Sun , winner of Oscar for Best...

 was loaned from RKO to direct and Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 75 films from 1930 to 1967. Tracy was one of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, ranking among the top ten box office draws for almost every year from 1938 to 1951...

, Hollywood's most admired actor after winning two consecutive Academy Awards, was cast as her co-star. Tracy and Hepburn studied each other's films in preparation, and soon established a strong connection. Woman of the Year was another huge success, as critics praised the chemistry between the stars and noted Hepburn's increasing maturity and polish. The World-Telegram commended two "brilliant performances", and Hepburn received her fourth Academy Award nomination for her role as independent career-woman Tess Harding.

Slowing in the 1940s (1942–1949)

In 1942, Hepburn returned to Broadway to appear in another Philip Barry play, Without Love, which was also written with the actress in mind. Critics were unenthusiastic about the production but with Hepburn's popularity at a high it ran for 16 sold-out weeks. MGM were eager to reunite Tracy and Hepburn for a new picture, and settled on Keeper of the Flame
Keeper of the Flame (film)
Keeper of the Flame is a dramatic film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer . It stars Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Hepburn plays the widow of a famous civic leader who has suddenly died in an accident. Tracy plays a former war correspondent who intends to write a flattering biography of the dead man,...

 (1942). A dark mystery with a propaganda message on the dangers of fascism, it was of stark contrast to Woman of the Year, with none of the comedy and little of the romance of the previous hit. Hepburn saw it as an opportunity to make a worthwhile political statement, but it received poor notices. Despite the negativity from critics it was a financial success, confirming the popularity of the Tracy-Hepburn pairing.
Since Woman of the Year Hepburn had committed to a romantic relationship with Tracy and dedicated herself to helping the troubled star. Her career slowed as a result, and she worked less for the remainder of the decade than she had done in the 1930s, for instance not appearing on stage again in the 1940s. Her only appearance in 1943 was a brief appearance in the morale-building wartime film Stage Door Canteen
Stage Door Canteen
Stage Door Canteen is a musical film produced by Sol Lesser Productions and distributed by United Artists. It was directed by Frank Borzage and features many cameo appearances by celebrities, and the majority of the film is essentially a filmed concert although there is also a storyline to the...

, playing herself. She took on an atypical role in 1944, playing a Chinese peasant in the high-budget drama Dragon Seed. Hepburn was enthusiastic about the film, but it met with a tepid response and she was described as miscast. She then reunited with Tracy for the film version of Without Love (1945), after which she turned down a role in The Razor's Edge
The Razor's Edge (1946 film)
The Razor's Edge is the first film version of W. Somerset Maugham's 1944 novel. It was released in 1946 and stars Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, Herbert Marshall, supporting cast Lucile Watson, Frank Latimore and Elsa Lanchester. Marshall plays Somerset Maugham....

 to support Tracy through his return to Broadway. Without Love received poor reviews, but a new Tracy-Hepburn picture was a big event and it was extremely popular on release, selling a record number of tickets over Easter weekend 1945.

Her next film, Undercurrent (1946), was a minor film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 with Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor (actor)
Robert Taylor was an American film and television actor.-Early life:Born Spangler Arlington Brugh in Filley, Nebraska, he was the son of Ruth Adaline and Spangler Andrew Brugh, who was a farmer turned doctor...

 and Robert Mitchum
Robert Mitchum
Robert Charles Durman Mitchum was an American film actor, author, composer and singer and is #23 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time...

. A fourth film with Tracy came in 1947, a drama set in the American Old West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

 entitled The Sea of Grass
The Sea of Grass (film)
The Sea of Grass is a 1947 western-drama film. It was directed by Elia Kazan and based on the novel of the same name by Conrad Richter. The movie stars Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Melvyn Douglas....

. Similarly to Keeper of the Flame and Without Love, a lukewarm response from critics did not stop it from being a big financial success both at home and abroad. The same year, Hepburn portrayed Clara Wieck Schumann in Song of Love
Song of Love (film)
Song of Love is a biopic starring Katharine Hepburn, Paul Henreid, Robert Walker, and Leo G. Carroll, directed by Clarence Brown and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer....

. She trained intensively with a pianist for the role. By the time of its release in October, Hepburn's career had been significantly affected by her public opposition to the anti-communist witch-hunt occurring in Hollywood. Viewed as dangerously progressive, she did not work for nine months and people were reportedly throwing things at screen showings of Song of Love. Her next film role came almost by luck, as she stepped in to replace Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert was a French-born American-based actress of stage and film.Born in Paris, France and raised in New York City, Colbert began her career in Broadway productions during the 1920s, progressing to film with the advent of talking pictures...

 only days before shooting began in Frank Capra
Frank Capra
Frank Russell Capra was a Sicilian-born American film director. He emigrated to the U.S. when he was six, and eventually became a creative force behind major award-winning films during the 1930s and 1940s...

's political drama State of the Union
State of the Union (film)
State of the Union is a 1948 film adaptation written by Myles Connolly and Anthony Veiller of the Russel Crouse, Howard Lindsay play of the same name. Directed by Frank Capra and starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, the film is Capra's first and only project for MGM Pictures...

 (1948). Tracy had long been signed to play the male lead, and so Hepburn was already familiar with the script and stepped up for the fifth Tracy-Hepburn picture. Critics responded positively to the film and it performed well at the box office.

Tracy and Hepburn appeared on screen together for the third year running in the 1949 film Adam's Rib
Adam's Rib
Adam's Rib is a 1949 American film written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin and directed by George Cukor. It stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as married lawyers who come to oppose each other in court. Judy Holliday co-stars in her first substantial film role...

. Like Woman of the Year, it was a "battle of the sexes" comedy, and was written specifically for the duo by close friends Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon Jones , better known as Ruth Gordon, was an American actress and writer. She was perhaps best known for her film roles such as Minnie Castevet, Rosemary's overly solicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, as the eccentric Maude in Harold and Maude and as the mother of Orville Boggs in the...

. A story of married lawyers who oppose each other in court, Hepburn described it as "perfect for [Tracy] and me". She was instrumental in getting Judy Holliday
Judy Holliday
Judy Holliday was an American actress.Holliday began her career as part of a night-club act, before working in Broadway plays and musicals...

 cast in the film, which kick-started the young actress's Hollywood career. Although Hepburn was still unpopular due to her political views, with scattered picketing at theatres around the country, Adam's Rib was a big hit, strongly reviewed and the most profitable Tracy-Hepburn picture to date. Critic Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther was a journalist and author who was film critic for The New York Times for 27 years. His reviews and articles helped shape the careers of actors, directors and screenwriters, though his reviews, at times, were unnecessarily mean...

 was full of praise for the film, and noted the duo's "perfect compatibility".

Professional expansion (1950–1959)

The 1950s saw Hepburn take on a series of professional challenges and stretch herself further than at any other point in her life, while most actresses her age began to retreat. Friend and biographer Scott Berg describes the decade as "the heart of her vast legacy" and "the period in which she truly came into her own." In January 1950, Hepburn made her first venture into Shakespeare, playing Rosalind in As You Like It
As You Like It
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility...

. She hoped to prove she could play already established material, and said "It's better to try something difficult and flop than to play it safe all the time." It opened at the Cort Theatre
Cort Theatre
The Cort Theatre is a legitimate Broadway theatre located at 138 West 48th Street in the Theatre District of midtown Manhattan in New York City...

 in New York to a capacity audience, with critics noting a "spirited but not particularly commanding" performance, and continued to be virtually sold out for 148 shows. The production then went on tour. Reviews for Hepburn varied, but she was noted as the only leading-lady in Hollywood who was performing high-caliber material on the stage.

In 1951, Hepburn filmed The African Queen, her first movie in Technicolor
Technicolor
Technicolor is a color motion picture process invented in 1916 and improved over several decades.It was the second major process, after Britain's Kinemacolor, and the most widely used color process in Hollywood from 1922 to 1952...

. She played Rose Sayer, a prim spinster missionary living in German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 at the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Co-starring Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

, The African Queen was shot mostly on location in the Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...

, where Hepburn became ill with dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 while they were filming. The trip was so significant to Hepburn that later in life she released a memoir about the experience. The movie was released at the end of the 1951 to great acclaim, and gave Hepburn her fifth Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards. It proved that she could be a hit without Spencer Tracy, being the first successful film she had made without him since The Philadelphia Story a decade earlier, and fully re-established her popularity.

Hepburn went on to make the sports comedy Pat and Mike
Pat and Mike
Pat and Mike is a 1952 comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The movie was directed by George Cukor, who also directed The Philadelphia Story and Adam's Rib.- Plot :...

 (1952), a second film written specifically as a Tracy-Hepburn vehicle by their friends Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. Kanin felt that Hepburn's audience were missing out on an important aspect of her personality: her athleticism. Thus the character of Pat Pemberton, a talented sportswoman, was created. Hepburn had to gain weight for the role, after a bout of dysentery had left her extremely thin, and she was under pressure to perform several sports to a high standard, many of which did not end up in the film. Pat and Mike was one of the team's most popular and critically acclaimed films, and it was also Hepburn's personal favorite of the nine films she made with Tracy. The performance brought a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Following completion of Pat and Mike, Hepburn appeared in London's West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 for a ten week run of George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

's The Millionairess. Her parents had read her Shaw as a child and she was delighted to take the role. But she was exhausted after two years of intense work, and almost had to pull out of the production when she developed laryngitis
Laryngitis
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. It causes hoarse voice or the complete loss of the voice because of irritation to the vocal folds . Dysphonia is the medical term for a vocal disorder, of which laryngitis is one cause....

. The delayed shock of her mother's death a year earlier also began to take effect, and close friend Constance Collier
Constance Collier
Constance Collier was an English film actress and acting coach.-Life and career:Born Laura Constance Hardie, in Windsor, Berkshire, Collier made her stage debut at the age of 3, when she played Fairy Peasblossom in A Midsummer's Night Dream...

 wrote that she was "on the verge of a nervous breakdown". The Millionairess was widely acclaimed, and brought to Broadway. It opened at the Shubert Theatre
Shubert Theatre (Broadway)
The Shubert Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 225 West 44th Street in midtown-Manhattan, New York, United States.Designed by architect Henry Beaumont Herts, it was named after Sam S. Shubert, the second oldest of the three brothers of the theatrical producing family...

 in October 1952, where the response by critics was lukewarm but it sold out for the entire ten week run. Hepburn subsequently tried to get the play adapted into a film: a script was written by Preston Sturges
Preston Sturges
Preston Sturges , originally Edmund Preston Biden, was a celebrated playwright, screenwriter and film director born in Chicago, Illinois...

, Hepburn offered to work for nothing and pay the director herself, but the project was not picked up by any studio. She later referred to this as the biggest disappointment of her career.
After some time off work, Hepburn traveled to Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 to film David Lean
David Lean
Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

's romantic drama Summertime, where she played a lonely spinster who has a love affair with Italian actor Rossano Brazzi
Rossano Brazzi
-Biography:Brazzi was born in Bologna to Adelmo and Maria Brazzi. He attended San Marco University in Florence, Italy, where he was raised from the age of four...

. She described it as "a very emotional part" and found it fascinating to work with Lean. Hepburn herself performed a fall into a canal and developed a chronic eye infection as a result. The role earned her another Academy Award nomination and is regarded as some of her finest work. David Lean later said it was his personal favorite of the films he made, and Hepburn his favorite actress. The following year, Hepburn spent six months touring Australia with the Old Vic
Old Vic
The Old Vic is a theatre located just south-east of Waterloo Station in London on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, it was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 when it was known formally as the Royal Victoria Hall. In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian...

 theatre company, playing Portia
Portia (Merchant of Venice)
Portia is the heroine of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. A rich, beautiful, and intelligent heiress, she is bound by the lottery set forth in her father's will, which gives potential suitors the chance to choose between three caskets composed of gold, silver and lead...

 in The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice is a tragic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic...

, Kate
Kate (The Taming of the Shrew)
Katherina Minola is a fictional character and the female romantic lead in the comedy The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Kate is the elder outspoken daughter of Baptista Minola and the sister of apparently sweet-tempered Bianca...

 in The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1591.The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself...

 and Isabella in Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labelled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays...

. The tour was successful and Hepburn earned significant plaudits for the effort.

Hepburn received an Academy Award nomination for the second year running for her work opposite Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster
Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile...

 in The Rainmaker
The Rainmaker (1956 film)
The Rainmaker is a 1956 film directed by Joseph Anthony and adapted by N. Richard Nash from his play The Rainmaker. The film tells the story of a middle-aged woman, suffering from unrequited love for the local town sheriff; however, she falls for a con man who comes to town with the promise that he...

 (1956). Again she played a lonely women empowered by a love affair, and it seemed that Hepburn had found a niche in playing love-starved spinsters that critics, audiences and her peers clearly enjoyed. Hepburn said of playing such roles, "With Lizzie Curry [The Rainmaker] and Jane Hudson [Summertime] and Rosie Sayer [The African Queen] – I was playing me. It wasn't difficult for me to play those women...because I'm the maiden aunt." Less success that year came from The Iron Petticoat
The Iron Petticoat
The Iron Petticoat is a 1956 British Cold War comedy film starring Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn and directed by Ralph Thomas. Hepburn plays a Russian aviatrix who lands in West Germany and is quickly converted to capitalism after sampling life in the West in the company of Major Chuck Lockwood...

 (1956), a reworking of the classic comedy Ninotchka
Ninotchka
Ninotchka is a 1939 American film made for Metro Goldwyn Mayer by producer and director Ernst Lubitsch which stars Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. It was written by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch, based on a screen story by Melchior Lengyel. Ninotchka is Greta Garbo's first full...

, with Bob Hope
Bob Hope
Bob Hope, KBE, KCSG, KSS was a British-born American comedian and actor who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in radio, television and movies. He was also noted for his work with the US Armed Forces and his numerous USO shows entertaining American military personnel...

. Hepburn played a cold-hearted Soviet pilot, a performance which one contemporary journalist called "awful". Hepburn considered it the worst film on her resume, and called Hope "the biggest egomaniac with whom I have worked in my entire life."

Tracy and Hepburn reunited on screen for the first time in five years for the office-based comedy Desk Set
Desk Set
Desk Set is a 1957 American romantic comedy film directed by Walter Lang and starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn...

 (1957). It worked as a hybrid of their earlier romantic-comedy successes and the later Hepburn-as-spinster films, but performed poorly at the box office. That summer Hepburn returned to Shakespeare. Appearing in Stratford, Connecticut, at the American Shakespeare Theatre
American Shakespeare Theatre
The American Shakespeare Theatre was a theater company based in Stratford, Connecticut, United States. It was formed in 1955 by Lawrence Langner, Lincoln Kirstein, and Joseph Verner Reed. Plays were produced at the Festival Theatre in Stratford from 1955 until the company ceased operations in...

, she repeated her Portia in The Merchant of Venice and played Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero....

. Reviews for the shows were strong. After two years away from the screen, she starred in a film adaptation of Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

' controversial play Suddenly, Last Summer
Suddenly, Last Summer (film)
Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 American Southern Gothic mystery film based on the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams. The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Sam Spiegel from a screenplay by Gore Vidal and Williams. The music score was by Buxton Orr using themes by...

 (1959) with Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, DBE was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age...

 and Montgomery Clift
Montgomery Clift
Edward Montgomery Clift was an American film and stage actor. The New York Times’ obituary noted his portrayal of "moody, sensitive young men"....

. The movie was shot in London, and was "a completely miserable experience" for Hepburn. She clashed with director Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph Leo Mankiewicz was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career and is best known as the writer-director of All About Eve , which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six. He was brother to screenwriter and drama critic Herman J...

 during filming, which culminated with her spitting at him in disgust. The picture was successful, and her work as creepy aunt Violet Venable gave Hepburn her eighth Oscar nomination. Williams was extremely pleased with the performance, and later wrote, "Kate is a playwright's dream actress. She makes dialogue sound better than it is by a matchless beauty and clarity of diction". He wrote The Night of the Iguana
The Night of the Iguana
The Night of the Iguana is a stageplay written by American author Tennessee Williams, based on his 1948 short story. The play premiered on Broadway in 1961. Two film adaptations have been made, including the Academy Award-winning 1964 film of the same name....

 (1961) with Hepburn in mind, but the actress, although flattered, felt the play was wrong for her and declined the part, which went to Bette Davis
Bette Davis
Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis was an American actress of film, television and theater. Noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, she was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional...

.

Continued success (1960–1970)

Hepburn returned to Stratford in the summer of 1960 to play Viola in Twelfth Night and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony...

, with Robert Ryan
Robert Ryan
Robert Bushnell Ryan was an American actor who often played hardened cops and ruthless villains.-Early life and career:...

 playing Antony. Theater enthusiast Garson Kanin believed she was one of the few actresses to succeed completely as Cleopatra and Hepburn herself was proud of the role. Her repertoire was further improved when she appeared in Sidney Lumet
Sidney Lumet
Sidney Lumet was an American director, producer and screenwriter with over 50 films to his credit. He was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Director for 12 Angry Men , Dog Day Afternoon , Network and The Verdict...

's film version of Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...

's Long Day's Journey Into Night
Long Day's Journey into Night (1962 film)
Long Day's Journey into Night is a 1962 film adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play. It was directed by Sidney Lumet and produced by Ely Landau with Joseph E. Levine and Jack J. Dreyfus, Jr. as executive producers. The screenplay was by Eugene O'Neill, the music score by André Previn and the...

 (1962). It was a low-budget production, and Hepburn appeared in the film for a tenth of her established salary. She called it "the greatest [play] this country has ever produced", the role of morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone "the most challenging female role in American drama" and felt her performance was the best screen work of her career. Long Day's Journey Into Night earned Hepburn an Oscar nomination and the Best Actress Award
Best Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)
The Best Actress Award is an award presented at the Cannes Film Festival. It is chosen by the jury from the 'official section' of films at the festival. It was first awarded in 1946.-Award Winners:-External links:* * ....

 at that year's Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes International Film Festival , is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres including documentaries from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is among the world's most prestigious and publicized film festivals...

.
Following completion of Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hepburn took a five-year break in her career to care for the ailing Spencer Tracy. She did not appear in a film again until 1967's Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American drama film starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and featuring Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton...

, with Tracy. Tracy was a dying man by this point, and Columbia Studio only agreed to finance the picture if Hepburn and director Stanley Kramer
Stanley Kramer
Stanley Earl Kramer was an American film director and producer. Kramer was responsible for some of Hollywood's most famous "message" movies...

 both put their salaries in escrow
Escrow
An escrow is:* an arrangement made under contractual provisions between transacting parties, whereby an independent trusted third party receives and disburses money and/or documents for the transacting parties, with the timing of such disbursement by the third party dependent on the fulfillment of...

 as an insurance. The movie dealt with the controversial subject of interracial marriage, with Hepburn's niece, Katharine Houghton
Katharine Houghton
Katharine Houghton is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Joanna "Joey" Drayton, a Caucasian woman who brings home an African-American fiancé to meet her parents, in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner...

, playing her daughter. Houghton later commented that her aunt was "extremely tense" during filming, as she tried to commit to the role while knowing that Tracy was near to death. He died only three weeks after filming was completed. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was a triumphant return for Hepburn, her most commercially successful picture to date, and she won her second Best Actress Award at the Oscars, 34 years after winning her first. Hepburn always said she felt the award was not just for her, but was also given to honor Tracy, and claimed to have never watched the film as it would be too painful.

Finding work to be the best antidote against grief, Hepburn quickly returned to acting after Tracy's death. She received numerous scripts and chose to play Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France and of England...

 in The Lion In Winter
The Lion in Winter
-Synopsis:Set during Christmas 1183 at Henry II of England's château in Chinon, Anjou, Angevin Empire, the play opens with the arrival of Henry's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he has had imprisoned since 1173...

 (1968), a part she called "fascinating". She read extensively in preparation for the role, and starred opposite Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is an Irish actor of stage and screen. O'Toole achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and then went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most...

. It was filmed in Montmajour Abbey
Montmajour Abbey
Montmajour Abbey is a fortified Benedictine monastery built between the 10th and 13th century on what was then an island five kilometers north of Arles, in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, Provence, in the south of France.The Abbey is noted for its 11th-14th century graves, carved in the rock,...

 in the south of France
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

, an experience she loved despite being—according to director Anthony Harvey
Anthony Harvey
Anthony Harvey is a British filmmaker who started his career in the 1950s as a film editor, and moved into directing in the mid 1960s. Harvey has fifteen film credits as an editor, and he has directed thirteen films...

—"enormously vulnerable" throughout. The movie was nominated in all the major categories at the Academy Awards, and for the second year running Hepburn won the Oscar for Best Actress, an unprecedented occurrence as she became the first actor to win three leading performance awards. The role, combined with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, also won Hepburn a BAFTA. Immediately after completion of The Lion in Winter she traveled on to Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 to film The Madwomen of Chaillot
The Madwoman of Chaillot (film)
The Madwoman of Chaillot is a 1969 American satirical comedy-drama film made by Commonwealth United Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts. It was directed by Bryan Forbes and produced by Ely A. Landau with Anthony B. Unger as associate producer...

 (1969), based on Jean Giraudoux
Jean Giraudoux
Hippolyte Jean Giraudoux was a French novelist, essayist, diplomat and playwright. He is considered among the most important French dramatists of the period between World War I and World War II. His work is noted for its stylistic elegance and poetic fantasy...

's satirical play of the same name
The Madwoman of Chaillot
The Madwoman of Chaillot is a play, a poetic satire, by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux, written in 1943 and first performed in 1945, after his death. The play has two acts and follows the convention of the classical unities...

. Unlike her previous hits the picture was a big failure critically and financially, and reviews targeted Hepburn for giving a misguided performance.

From December 1969 to August 1970, Hepburn starred in the Broadway musical
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 Coco
Coco (musical)
Coco is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by André Previn. It starred Katharine Hepburn in her only stage musical.-Background:...

, about the life of Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist thought, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. She was the founder of one of the most famous fashion brands, Chanel...

. Hepburn admitted that before the show, she had never even sat through a theatrical musical. She was not a strong singer, but she found the offer irresistible and, as said by Scott Berg, "what she lacked in euphony
Euphony
Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty or unpleasantness of the sound of certain words and sentences. Poetry is considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose...

 she made up for in guts". The actress took vocal lessons six times a week in preparation for the show. She was nervous about every performance, and recalled "wondering what the hell I was doing there." Reviews for the production were mediocre, but Hepburn herself was praised and Coco was popular with the public. One critic described "an unforgettable performance in an otherwise forgettable show". Hepburn would typically receive a standing ovation at the end of the night, and the show's run was twice extended. She later said Coco marked the first time she accepted that the public were not against her, but actually seemed to love her. Hepburn received a Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

 nomination for Best Actress in a Musical but lost to close friend Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall is an American film and stage actress and model, known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks.She first emerged as leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have And Have Not and continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in The Big Sleep and Dark Passage ,...

. Hepburn wrote to congratulate Bacall, saying "none could be more pleased than I."

Film, television and theatre (1971–1983)

Hepburn stayed active throughout the 1970s, focusing on roles described by Andrew Britton as "either a devouring mother or a batty old lady living [alone]". First she traveled to Spain to film a version of Euripides
Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

' The Trojan Women
The Trojan Women (film)
The Trojan Women is a 1971 film, directed by Michael Cacoyannis and starring Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave. The film was made with the minimum of changes to Edith Hamilton's translation of Euripides' original play, written in 415 B.C., although Cacoyannis said: "We left out the Gods, as...

 (1971) alongside Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave, CBE is an English actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a political activist.She rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since made more than 35 appearances on London's West End and Broadway, winning...

, whom Hepburn considered the finest actress of her generation. When asked why she had taken the role, she responded that she wanted to broaden her range and try everything while she still had time. The movie was poorly received, with more than one critic commenting that Hepburn had surpassed her limitations, but the Kansas City Film Critics named her performance the best from an actress
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
The Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress is an award given by the Kansas City Film Critics Circle to honor the best achievements in acting.-1960s:-1970s:-1980s:-1990s:-2000s:-2010s:-References:*...

 that year. In 1971 she signed on to star in an adaptation of Graham Greene
Graham Greene
Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English author, playwright and literary critic. His works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world...

's Travels With My Aunt
Travels with My Aunt
Travels with My Aunt is a novel written by English author Graham Greene.The novel follows the travels of Henry Pulling, a retired bank manager, and his eccentric Aunt Augusta as they find their way across Europe, and eventually even further afield...

, but was unhappy with early versions of the script and took to rewriting it herself. The studio disliked her changes, so Hepburn abandoned the project and was replaced with Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
Dame Margaret Natalie Smith, DBE , better known as Maggie Smith, is an English film, stage, and television actress who made her stage debut in 1952 and is still performing after 59 years...

.

Her next feature, an adaptation of Edward Albee
Edward Albee
Edward Franklin Albee III is an American playwright who is best known for The Zoo Story , The Sandbox , Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , and a rewrite of the screenplay for the unsuccessful musical version of Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's . His works are considered well-crafted, often...

's A Delicate Balance
A Delicate Balance (film)
A Delicate Balance is a 1973 drama film directed by Tony Richardson. The screenplay by Edward Albee is based on his 1966 Pultizer Prize-winning play of the same name.The film was the second in a series produced by Ely A...

 (1973) directed by Tony Richardson
Tony Richardson
Cecil Antonio "Tony" Richardson was an English theatre and film director and producer.-Early life:Richardson was born in Shipley, Yorkshire in 1928, the son of Elsie Evans and Clarence Albert Richardson, a chemist...

, had a small release and received generally unfavorable reviews. Hepburn then ventured into television for the first time, appearing in a TV Movie of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie (1973 film)
The Glass Menagerie is a 1973 American television movie based on the 1944 play of the same name by Tennessee Williams. It is directed by Anthony Harvey and stars Katharine Hepburn, Sam Waterston, Joanna Miles and Michael Moriarty. It marked the third screen adaptation of the play.The Glass...

. She had been wary of entering into the medium but it proved to be one of the main television events of 1973, scoring high on the Nielsen ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

. Hepburn received an Emmy Award nomination for playing wistful Southern mother Amanda Wingfield, which opened her mind to future work in the medium, and her next project was the TV movie Love Among the Ruins
Love Among the Ruins (film)
Love Among the Ruins is a 1975 British television film directed by George Cukor and starring Katharine Hepburn and Sir Laurence Olivier....

 (1975), a London-based Edwardian drama with Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

. It was a great success, with rave reviews and high ratings, and earned Hepburn her only Emmy Award.
Hepburn made her only appearance at the Academy Awards in 1974, to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to Lawrence Weingarten. She received a standing ovation, and joked with the audience, "I'm very happy I didn't hear anyone call out 'It's about time'." The following year, she was paired with John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

 in the Western Rooster Cogburn, a sequel to his Oscar-winning film True Grit. Hepburn's role replicated Rose Sayer from The African Queen, again playing a deeply religious spinster who teams up with a masculine loner to avenge a family member's death. The movie received mediocre reviews. Its casting was enough to draw some people to the box office, but not as many as anticipated and it was only moderately successful.

In 1976, Hepburn returned to Broadway for a three-month run of A Matter of Gravity
A Matter of Gravity
A Matter of Gravity is a play by Enid Bagnold.At its center is eccentric dowager Mrs. Basil, who chooses to live in only one room of her Oxford mansion. Her quiet existence is disrupted by the arrival of her grandson Nicky and four of his friends and new cook-housekeeper Dubois, who startles the...

. The role of eccentric Mrs. Basil was deemed a perfect showcase for the actress, and the play was popular despite poor reviews. It later went on a successful nationwide tour, where during the Los Angeles run of the production, Hepburn fractured her hip. She chose to continue the tour performing in a wheelchair. That year, she was voted "Favorite Motion Picture Actress" by the People's Choice Awards
People's Choice Awards
The People's Choice Awards is an American awards show recognizing the people and the work of popular culture. The show has been held annually since 1975 and is voted on by the general public. The People's Choice Awards air on CBS and are produced by Procter & Gamble and Survivor magnate Mark Burnett...

. After three years away from the screen, Hepburn starred in the 1978 film Olly Olly Oxen Free
Olly Olly Oxen Free
Olly olly oxen free is a catchphrase used in such children's games as hide and seek to indicate that players who are hiding can come out into the open without losing the game, that the position of the sides in a game has changed ,...

. The adventure comedy was one of the biggest failures of her career, as it was quickly removed from theatres and did not receive an international release. She later said the main reason she had done the film was the opportunity to ride in a hot air balloon. The TV Movie The Corn Is Green
The Corn is Green (1979 film)
The Corn Is Green is a 1979 television drama film starring Katharine Hepburn as a schoolteacher determined to bring education to a Welsh coal mining town, despite great opposition. It was directed by George Cukor, the tenth and last collaboration on film between the director and the actress, and is...

 (1979), which was filmed in Wales, followed. It was the last of ten films Hepburn made with George Cukor
George Cukor
George Dewey Cukor was an American film director. He mainly concentrated on comedies and literary adaptations. His career flourished at RKO and later MGM, where he directed What Price Hollywood? , A Bill of Divorcement , Dinner at Eight , Little Women , David Copperfield , Romeo and Juliet and...

, and gained her a third Emmy nomination.

By the 1980s Hepburn had developed a noticeable tremor
Essential tremor
Essential tremor is a slowly progressive neurological disorder whose most recognizable feature is a tremor of the arms that is apparent during voluntary movements such as eating and writing...

, giving her a permanently shaking head. She did not work for two years, saying in a television interview "I've had my day—let the kids scramble and sweat it out." During this period she saw the Broadway production of On Golden Pond, and was impressed by its depiction of an elderly married couple coping with the difficulties of old age. Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda is an American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru. She rose to fame in the 1960s with films such as Barbarella and Cat Ballou. She has won two Academy Awards and received several other movie awards and nominations during more than 50 years as an...

 had purchased the movie rights for her father, actor Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

, and Hepburn sought to play opposite him in the role of quirky Ethel Thayer. On Golden Pond
On Golden Pond (1981 film)
On Golden Pond is a 1981 American drama film directed by Mark Rydell. The screenplay by Ernest Thompson was adapted from his 1979 play of the same title. Henry Fonda won the Academy Award in what was his final film role. Co-star Katharine Hepburn also received an Oscar, as did Thompson for his...

 was a big success, the second-highest grossing film of 1981, and 74-year-old Hepburn was noted for how energetic she still was, as she dived fully clothed into Squam Lake
Squam Lake
Squam Lake is a lake located in central New Hampshire, USA, south of the White Mountains, straddling the borders of Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap counties. The largest town center on the lake is Holderness...

 and gave a lively singing performance. For her performance, she won a second BAFTA and a fourth Academy Award, the record amount of Oscars for a performer, though at the time many considered it a sentimental win; a tribute to her enduring career.

1981 also saw Hepburn return to the stage, and she received a second Tony nomination for her work in The West Side Waltz
The West Side Waltz
The West Side Waltz is a play by Ernest Thompson.The play focuses on Margaret Mary Elderdice, an aging, widowed pianist living in a dreary Upper West Side apartment, and her relationships with a prim, virginal violinist neighbor and the young companion who moves in for an extended stay.Thompson was...

. Playing a septuagenarian widow with a zest for life, Variety observed that the role was "an obvious and entirely acceptable version of [Hepburn's] own public image." Walter Kerr of The New York Times wrote of Hepburn and her performance: "One mysterious thing she has learned to do is breathe unchallengeable life into lifeless lines." She hoped to make a film out of the production, but nobody purchased the rights. Hepburn's reputation as one of America's best loved actors was firmly established by this point, as she was named favorite movie actress in a survey by People
People (magazine)
In 1998, the magazine introduced a version targeted at teens called Teen People. However, on July 27, 2006, the company announced it would shut down publication of Teen People immediately. The last issue to be released was scheduled for September 2006. Subscribers to this magazine received...

 magazine and again won the popularity award from People's Choice.

Focus on television (1984–1994)

In 1984, Hepburn starred in the dark comedy Grace Quigley
Grace Quigley
Grace Quigley, also titled The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley, is a 1985 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Nick Nolte. The plot centers around an elderly woman who decides not to wait around to die of old age, but hires a hit man to kill her...

, the story of an elderly woman who enlists a hitman (Nick Nolte
Nick Nolte
Nicholas King "Nick" Nolte is an American actor whose career has spanned over five decades, peaking in the 1990s when his commercial success made him one of the most popular celebrities of that decade.-Early life:...

) to kill her. Few people went to see the film. In 1985, she presented a documentary about the life and career of Spencer Tracy. The majority of Hepburn's roles from this point were in television movies, which did not receive the critical praise of her earlier work in the medium but remained popular with audiences. With each release, Hepburn would declare it her final screen appearance, but she continued to take on new roles. She received an Emmy nomination for 1986's Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry
Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry
Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry is a 1986 American television movie directed by George Schaefer and starring Katharine Hepburn and Harold Gould....

, then two years later returned for the comedy Laura Lansing Slept Here
Laura Lansing Slept Here
Laura Lansing Slept Here is a 1988 American television movie starring Katharine Hepburn and directed by George Schaefer. It was written by James Prideaux and co-stars Joel Higgins, Karen Austin and Hepburn's grandniece Schuyler Grant....

, which allowed Hepburn to act with her grandniece, Schuyler Grant
Schuyler Grant
Schuyler Grant is an American actress best known for supporting roles in television, including the popular Anne of Green Gables mini-series.-Family ties:...

. In 1991 she released her autobiography, Me: Stories of my Life. It topped best-seller lists for over a year. She returned to the screen in 1992 for The Man Upstairs
The Man Upstairs (1992 film)
The Man Upstairs is a 1992 American television movie directed by George Schaefer and starring Katharine Hepburn and Ryan O'Neal. Hepburn plays an elderly woman whose house becomes a hideaway for an escaped convict , and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship...

, co-starring Ryan O'Neal
Ryan O'Neal
Charles Patrick Ryan O'Neal , better known as Ryan O'Neal, is an American actor best known for his appearances in the ABC nighttime soap opera Peyton Place and for his roles in such films as Paper Moon , Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon , A Bridge Too Far , and Love Story , for which he received...

, for which she was Golden Globe nominated. In 1994 she worked opposite Anthony Quinn
Anthony Quinn
Antonio Rodolfo Quinn-Oaxaca , more commonly known as Anthony Quinn, was a Mexican American actor, as well as a painter and writer...

 in This Can't Be Love
This Can't Be Love (film)
This Can't Be Love is a 1994 American television movie directed by Anthony Harvey and starring Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Quinn. The stars play two aging actors who had a brief but intense marriage in the 1940s, and are reunited decades later to find that issues between them are not resolved...

, which was largely based on Hepburn's own life, with numerous references to her personality and career. Her next TV movie, and the final role she ever filmed, was One Christmas
One Christmas
"One Christmas" is an autobiographical short story by Truman Capote, portions of which were originally published in a 1982 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine. It was shortly thereafter published in 1983 as a book by Random House, Inc. The story is an emotional childhood tale about the...

 (1994), for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award
Screen Actors Guild Awards
A Screen Actors Guild Award is an accolade given by the Screen Actors Guild to recognize outstanding performances by its members. The statuette given, a nude male figure holding both a mask of comedy and a mask of tragedy, is called "The Actor"...

 nomination. These later roles have been described as "a fictional version of the typically feisty Kate Hepburn character" and critics have remarked that Hepburn was essentially playing herself.

Hepburn's final appearance in a theatrically released film, and her first since Grace Quigley ten years earlier, was Love Affair (1994). At 86 years old, she played a supporting role alongside Annette Bening
Annette Bening
Annette Carol Bening is an American actress. Bening is a four-time Oscar nominee for her roles in The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right, winning Golden Globe Awards for the latter two films...

 and Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty born March 30, 1937) is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and director. He has received a total of fourteen Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Director in 1982. He has also won four Golden Globe Awards including the Cecil B. DeMille Award.-Early life and...

. It was the only film of Hepburn's career, other than the cameo appearance in Stage Door Canteen, in which she did not play a leading role. Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 noted that it was the first time Hepburn had looked frail, but that the "magnificent spirit" was still there and said her scenes "steal the show". The New York Times made similar observations as they reflected on the actress' final appearance, stating that "if she moved more slowly than before, in demeanor she was as game and modern as she had ever been".

Personal life

Known for being fiercely private, Hepburn would not give interviews or talk to fans for much of her career. Her life, she felt, was no-one else's business. She distanced herself from the celebrity lifestyle, uninterested in a social scene she saw as tedious and superficial  and wore casual clothes that went strongly against convention in an era of glamour. She rarely appeared in public, even avoiding restaurants, and once wrestled a camera out of a photographer's hand when he took a picture without asking. Despite this she still enjoyed the fame, and confessed that she would not have liked the press to ignore her completely. The protective attitude thawed as she aged, beginning with a two-hour long interview on The Dick Cavett Show
The Dick Cavett Show
The Dick Cavett Show has been the title of several talk shows hosted by Dick Cavett on various television networks, including:* ABC daytime ...

 in 1973, and Hepburn became increasingly open with the public.
Hepburn was extremely active in her private life, reportedly swimming and playing tennis every morning. Even in her eighties she was still playing tennis regularly, as seen in her 1993 documentary All About Me. She also filled her time painting, which became a passion later in life. A small bust she sculpted of Spencer Tracy's head was featured in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. Her relentless energy and enthusiasm for life is often cited in biographies, while a headstrong independence became key to her celebrity status. This self-assuredness meant she could be controlling and difficult; friend Garson Kanin likened her to a schoolmistress, and she was famously blunt and outspoken. Niece Katharine Houghton commented that she could be "maddeningly self-righteous and bossy". Scott Berg knew the actress well in her later years, and said that while she was demanding, there was always a sense of humility and humanity. Hepburn confessed to being, especially early in life, "a me me me person". She saw herself as having a happy nature, reasoning "I like life and I've been so lucky, why shouldn't I be happy?"

Her political views lay firmly with the left. She told an interviewer "I always just say be on the affirmative and liberal side. Don't be a 'no' person." She was angered by the anti-communist hysteria in Hollywood during the Second Red Scare, and made a speech against censorship in May 1947. The speech shocked the public and she was targeted by right-wing activists as a communist sympathizer, being mentioned at the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

. She insisted that the claims made about her were untrue. Throughout her life, Hepburn openly promoted birth control and supported abortion. She refused to accept the Kennedy Center Honors
Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

 until Ronald
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 and Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989....

 had left the White House due to her strong dislike of the pair.

Hepburn was an atheist, stating in her 1973 interview with Dick Cavett
Dick Cavett
Richard Alva "Dick" Cavett is a former American television talk show host known for his conversational style and in-depth discussion of issues...

 that although she agreed with Christian principles, and thought highly of Jesus Christ, she did not believe in religion or the afterlife. She practiced the "Reverence for Life
Reverence for Life
The phrase Reverence for Life is a translation of the German phrase: ""...

" theory propounded by Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

, finding spirituality in nature, and told a journalist in October 1991, "I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people." Her public declarations of these beliefs led the American Humanist Association
American Humanist Association
The American Humanist Association is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that...

 to award her the Humanist Arts Award in 1985.

Relationships

Hepburn met Ludlow Ogden Smith, a socialite businessman from Philadelphia, whilst a student at Bryn Mawr. The couple impulsively married on December 12, 1928, when she was 21 and he was 29. Hepburn made Smith change his name to S. Ogden Ludlow so that she would not be known as 'Kate Smith'. It was too plain, she insisted, and disliked that it was the name of an overweight singer
Kate Smith
Kathryn Elizabeth "Kate" Smith was an American Popular singer, best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America". Smith had a radio, television, and recording career spanning five decades, which reached its pinnacle in the 1940s.Smith was born in Greenville, Virginia...

 who was popular at the time. Hepburn never fully committed to the relationship and prioritized her career. The move to Hollywood in 1932 cemented their estrangement, and in 1934, she traveled to Mexico to get a quick divorce
Mexican divorce
In the 1960s, many Americans traveled south to obtain a "Mexican divorce". A Mexican divorce was easier, quicker, and less expensive than a divorce in most states. Celebrities who obtained a Mexican divorce include Johnny Carson, Katharine Hepburn, Richard Burton, Marilyn Monroe, and Don Hewitt. It...

. Hepburn often expressed her gratitude toward Smith for his financial and moral support in the early days of her career, and in her autobiography called herself "a terrible pig" for exploiting his love for her. Smith continued to be a lifelong friend.

Soon after moving to California, Hepburn began a relationship with her agent Leland Hayward
Leland Hayward
Leland Hayward was a Hollywood and Broadway agent and theatrical producer. He produced the original Broadway stage productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific and The Sound of Music.-Early years:...

. Both were married. Hayward proposed to Hepburn once they each had divorced, but she did not wish to be married again. She "liked the idea of being my own single self." They were involved for four years, until Hayward left her and abruptly married actress Margaret Sullavan
Margaret Sullavan
Margaret Brooke Sullavan was an American stage and film actress. Sullavan started her career on the stage in 1929. In 1933 she caught the attention of movie director John M. Stahl and had her debut on the screen that same year in Only Yesterday...

. In 1936, while she was touring Jane Eyre, Hepburn began a relationship with entrepreneur Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world...

. They first met while Hepburn was filming Sylvia Scarlett, introduced by mutual friend Cary Grant. Hughes also wished to marry her, and the tabloids made reports of their impending nuptials, but Hepburn was too focused on resurrecting her failed career. They separated in 1938, when Hepburn left Hollywood to tour in The Philadelphia Story.

Alongside the choice to never remarry, Hepburn made the conscious decision not to have children, believing that motherhood should be a full time commitment and that it was not one she was willing to make. She told Scott Berg, "I would have been a terrible mother, because I'm basically a very selfish human being." She felt she had partially experienced parenthood through her much younger siblings, which fulfilled any need to have children of her own.

Spencer Tracy

The most significant relationship of Hepburn's life was with Spencer Tracy. In her autobiography she wrote, "It was a unique feeling that I had for [Tracy]. I would have done anything for him." Friend Lauren Bacall later wrote of how "blindingly" in love Hepburn was with the actor. The relationship has subsequently received much publicity, often cited as one of Hollywood's legendary love affairs. Meeting when she was 34 and he was 41, Tracy was initially wary of Hepburn, unimpressed that she had dirty fingernails and suspected that she was a lesbian, but Hepburn said she "knew right away that I found him irresistible." Tracy remained married throughout their relationship: although he and wife Louise had been living separate lives since the 1930s, there was never an official split and neither party pursued a divorce. Hepburn did not interfere and never fought for marriage. With Tracy determined for his wife not to know of the relationship with Hepburn, it had to remain private. They were careful not to be seen in public together and maintained separate residences. Tracy was a periodic alcoholic and troubled individual, and Hepburn devoted herself to making his life easier. Reports from people who saw them together describe how Hepburn's entire demeanor changed when around Tracy. She mothered and obeyed him, and Tracy became heavily dependent on her. They often spent stretches of time apart due to their work, particularly during the first half of the 1950s when Hepburn was largely abroad for career commitments. Tracy resented these absences, and while Hepburn was playing The Millionairess in London in 1952, he had an affair with his Plymouth Adventure
Plymouth Adventure
Plymouth Adventure is a 1952 drama film with an ensemble cast starring Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney, Van Johnson and Leo Genn, made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Clarence Brown, and produced by Dore Schary...

 co-star Gene Tierney
Gene Tierney
Gene Eliza Tierney was an American film and stage actress. Acclaimed as one of the great beauties of her day, she is best remembered for her performance in the title role of Laura and her Academy Award-nominated performance for Best Actress in Leave Her to Heaven .Other notable roles include...

.

Tracy's health declined significantly in the 1960s, and Hepburn took a five-year break in her career to care for him. She moved into Tracy's house for this period, and was with him when he died on June 10, 1967. Out of consideration for Tracy's family, she did not attend his funeral. It was only after Louise Tracy's death, in 1983, that Hepburn began to speak publicly about her feelings for her frequent co-star. In response to the question of why she stayed with Tracy for so long, despite the nature of their relationship, she said, "I honestly don't know. I can only say that I could never have left him." She claimed to not know how Tracy felt about her; that they "just passed twenty-seven years together in what was to me absolute bliss."

Performances

According to reports Hepburn was not an instinctive actor, liking to carefully study the text and character beforehand, making sure she knew it thoroughly, and then to rehearse as much as possible and film multiple takes of a scene. With a genuine passion for the industry she committed heavily to each role, insisting on learning any necessary skills and performing feats herself, and was known to learn not only her own lines but also those of her co-stars. Stanley Kramer commented on her motivation, saying: "Work, work, work. She can work till everyone drops." With each film Hepburn would involve herself in its production, making suggestions for the script and stating her opinion on everything from costumes to lighting to camerawork.

The characters Hepburn played were, with very few exceptions, wealthy and intelligent, and often they were strong and independent. These tough characters tended to be humbled in some form and revealed to have a hidden softness or vulnerability. She was often presented as a rebellious 'voice' which has to be placed. As such, film academic Andrew Britton sees Hepburn as embodying the "contradictions" of the "nature and status of women", as the strong females she depicts are eventually "restored to a safe position within the status quo".

Hepburn was one of the most lauded American actresses of the twentieth century, but has also been criticized for a lack of versatility in her performances. Her on-screen persona closely matched her own real personality, something the actress admitted herself. In 1991 she told a journalist: "I think I'm always the same. I had a very definite personality and I liked material that showed that personality." Playwright and author David Macaray has said, "Picture Katharine Hepburn in every movie she ever starred in and ask yourself if she's not playing, essentially, the same part over and over ... Icon or no icon, let's not confuse a truly fascinating and unique woman with a superior actress." A further repeated criticism is that her presence was too cold.

Final years and death

Hepburn stated in her eighties, "I have no fear of death. Must be wonderful, like a long sleep." Her health began to deteriorate not long after her final screen appearance. In the winter of 1996 she was admitted to hospital with pneumonia, which almost killed her. By 1997 she had become very weak, was speaking and eating very little, and again nearly died. She showed signs of dementia in her final years. In May 2003, an aggressive tumor was found in Hepburn's neck. The decision was made not to medically intervene, and she died on June 29, 2003 at the Hepburn family home in Fenwick, Connecticut
Fenwick, Connecticut
Fenwick is a borough in Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States, in the town of Old Saybrook. The population was 52 at the 2000 census, making it the least populous municipality in Connecticut. It is a popular summer colony. Most of the borough is included in Fenwick Historic District, a...

. She was 96 years old and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, in the family plot. Hepburn requested that there be no memorial service.

Hepburn's death received considerable public attention. Many tributes were held on television, and newspapers and magazines dedicated their issues to the actress. American president George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 made a statement in which he said Hepburn "will be remembered as one of the nation's artistic treasures." In honor of her extensive theatre work, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for the evening of July 1, 2003. In 2004, in accordance with Hepburn's wishes, her belongings were put up for auction with Sotheby's
Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

 in New York. It included personal items, such as a bust of Spencer Tracy she sculpted herself (the highest selling item, at $316,000), as well as a large collection of material relating to her career. The auction garnered $5.8 million, which Hepburn willed mostly to her family and close friends.

Legacy

Hepburn is considered an important and influential cultural figure. Academics Ros Horton and Sally Simmons included her in their book Women Who Changed The World, which honors 50 women who helped shape world history and culture. She is also among the Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

's selection of "300 Women Who Changed the World", Ladies Home Journals book 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

 magazine's "100 Icons of the Century" and is number 84 on VH1
VH1
VH1 or Vh1 is an American cable television network based in New York City. Launched on January 1, 1985 in the old space of Turner Broadcasting's short-lived Cable Music Channel, the original purpose of the channel was to build on the success of MTV by playing music videos, but targeting a slightly...

's list of the "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons of All Time".

Her legacy lies both on-screen and off. She has been credited with "breaking the mold" for women in Hollywood, where she brought a new breed of strong-willed females to the screen. Film academic Andrew Britton wrote a monograph studying Hepburn due to her "key presence within classical Hollywood, a consistent, potentially radical disturbance", and pinpoints her "central" influence in bringing feminist issues to the screen. Off screen, Hepburn lived in a manner ahead of her time, and thus came to symbolize the "modern woman" and played a part in changing attitudes towards the gender. Horton and Simmons write: "Confident, intelligent and witty, four-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn defied convention throughout her professional and personal life...Katharine Hepburn provided an image of an assertive woman whom [females] could watch and learn from." Film historian Jeanine Basinger
Jeanine Basinger
Jeanine Basinger , a film historian, is Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and Founder and Curator of The Cinema Archives at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut....

 stated after Hepburn died: "What she brought us was a new kind of heroine—modern and independent. She was beautiful, but she did not rely on that." Mary McNamara, an entertainment journalist and reviewer for the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

 wrote: "More than a movie star, Katharine Hepburn was the patron saint of the independent American female." She was not universally revered by feminists, however, who were angered by her public declarations that women "cannot have it all", meaning a family and a career.

Hepburn's legacy extends to fashion, where she was a pioneer for wearing trousers at a time when it was radical for a woman to do so. This contributed towards making trousers acceptable for women, as fans began to imitate her clothing. In 1986 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America
Council of Fashion Designers of America
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. is a not-for-profit trade association of over 350 of America’s foremost fashion and accessory designers. As of 2009, Diane von Fürstenberg is the group's President and Steven Kolb is the Executive Director...

 in recognition of the influence she played in women's fashion.

A number of Hepburn's films have become classics of American cinema, with four of her pictures (The African Queen, The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner) featuring on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest American Films of all time. Adam's Rib and Woman of the Year were also included in their list of the Greatest American Comedies, while a line spoken by Hepburn in On Golden Pond was selected as one of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. Her clipped, partrician voice is considered one of the most distinctive in film history.

Memorials

Hepburn was honored by the Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay, Manhattan
Turtle Bay is a neighborhood in New York City, on the east side of Midtown Manhattan. It extends between 41st and 54th Streets, and eastward from Lexington Avenue to the East River, across from Roosevelt Island...

 community in Manhattan, New York City, where she maintained a residence for over sixty years. First, a garden near her home was dedicated in her name in 1997. The garden contains 12 stepping stones, representing her 12 Oscar nominations, each inscribed with a quotation from the actress. In addition to the garden, the intersection of East 49th Street and 2nd Avenue was renamed "Katharine Hepburn Place" after the actress' death in 2003.

Bryn Mawr College, Hepburn's alma mater, introduced the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center in 2006. It is dedicated to both the actress and her mother, and encourages women to lead publicly engaged lives and to take on important issues affecting women. The center awards the annual Katharine Hepburn Medal, which "recognizes women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress".

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is a theatre in Old Saybrook, Connecticut that opened in 2009. It is the only theatre in the world that is named for Katharine Hepburn, the 4-time Academy Award winning actress....

 was opened in 2009 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Old Saybrook is a town in Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 10,367 at the 2000 census. It contains the incorporated borough of Fenwick, as well as the census-designated places of Old Saybrook Center and Saybrook Manor.-History:...

, the location of the Hepburn family beach home which she loved and later owned. It is a non-profit performing arts organization, including a 250-seat theatre and a small museum honoring Hepburn. Three public exhibitions have been held devoted to showcasing Hepburn's career. One Life: Kate, A Centennial Celebration was held at the National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery (United States)
The National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery in Washington, D.C., administered by the Smithsonian Institution. Its collections focus on images of famous individual Americans.-Building:...

 in Washington from November 2007 to September 2008. The New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

 ran Katharine Hepburn: In Her Own Files for five months in 2009, which included several of Hepburn’s play transcripts and annotated rehearsal notes. Kent State University
Kent State University
Kent State University is a public research university located in Kent, Ohio, United States. The university has eight campuses around the northeast Ohio region with the main campus in Kent being the largest...

 exhibited a selection of Hepburn's film and theatre costumes from October 2010 to September 2011 in Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen. Hepburn has also been honored with her own postal stamp as part of the "Legends of Hollywood
Legends of Hollywood
Legends of Hollywood is a stamp series issued by the United States Postal Service, annually honoring a person with a distinguished career in the American film industry. The First class stamps are sold by the sheet for a limited time. The popularity of the series has helped to reduce the overall...

" stamp series.

Characterizations

Tea at Five
Tea at Five
Tea at Five is a one-woman play, written by Matthew Lombardo, which tells the story of Katharine Hepburn in a monologue. It is based on Hepburn's book Me: Stories of My Life...

 is a one-woman play, written by Matthew Lombardo, based on Hepburn's life. The first act features Hepburn in 1938, after being labled "box office poison", and the second act in 1983, where she reflects on her life and career. Hepburn has been portrayed in Tea at Five by Kate Mulgrew
Kate Mulgrew
Katherine Kiernan Maria "Kate" Mulgrew is an American actress, most noted for her roles on Star Trek: Voyager as Captain Kathryn Janeway and Ryan's Hope as Mary Ryan...

, Tovah Feldshuh
Tovah Feldshuh
Tovah Feldshuh is an American actress, singer and playwright.-Early life:Terri Sue Feldshuh was born to a Jewish family in New York City, the daughter of Lillian and Sidney Feldshuh, who was a lawyer. She was raised in Scarsdale, New York, an affluent community in Westchester County and graduated...

, Stephanie Zimbalist
Stephanie Zimbalist
Stephanie Zimbalist is an American actress best known for her role as Laura Holt on the NBC detective series Remington Steele.-Background:...

  and Charles Busch
Charles Busch
Charles Louis Busch is an American actor, screenwriter, playwright and female impersonator, known for his appearances on stage in his own camp style plays and in film and television. He wrote The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, which was a success on Broadway.-Early life:Busch was born in 1954 and...

.

Feldshuh also appeared as Hepburn in The Amazing Howard Hughes
The Amazing Howard Hughes
The Amazing Howard Hughes is a 1977 television movie about American aviation pioneer and filmmaker Howard Hughes, based on the book by Hughes' business partner Noah Dietrich. The film starred Tommy Lee Jones, Ed Flanders, and Tovah Feldshuh....

, a 1977 television movie. Mearle Ann Taylor portrayed her in The Scarlett O'Hara War
The Scarlett O'Hara War
The Scarlett O'Hara War is a 1980 made for TV movie directed by John Erman. It is based on the novel Moviola by Garson Kanin. The film is set against the backdrop of late 1930s Hollywood as the search for Scarlett O'Hara begins to unfold.- Synopsis :...

 (1980). In Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

's 2004 biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator, Hepburn was portrayed by Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
Catherine Élise "Cate" Blanchett is an Australian actress. She came to international attention for her role as Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 biopic film Elizabeth, for which she won British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Golden Globe Awards, and earned her first Academy Award...

. Blanchett won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

 for her performance, marking the first instance where an Academy Award–winning actress was turned into an Academy Award–winning role.

Filmography and theatre credits

Throughout her 66-year career, Hepburn appeared in 44 feature films, eight television movies and 33 plays. Her movie career covered a range of genres, including screwball comedies
Screwball Comedy
Screwball Comedy is an album by the Japanese band Soul Flower Union. The album found the band going into a simpler, harder-rocking direction, after several heavily world-music influenced albums.-Track listing:...

, period dramas, and adaptations of works by America's top playwrights. She appeared on the stage in every decade from the 1920s to the 1980s, performing plays by Shakespeare, Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 and a Broadway musical
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

.

Select filmography:

  • Little Women
    Little Women (1933 film)
    Little Women is a 1933 American drama film directed by George Cukor. The screenplay by Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman is based on the classic novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott...

     (1933)
  • Stage Door
    Stage Door
    Stage Door is a RKO film, adapted from the play by the same name, that tells the story of several would-be actresses who live together in a boarding house at 158 West 58th Street in New York City. The film stars Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Adolphe Menjou, Gail Patrick, Constance Collier,...

     (1937)
  • Bringing Up Baby
    Bringing up Baby
    Bringing Up Baby is an American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and released by RKO Radio Pictures....

     (1938)
  • Holiday
    Holiday (1938 film)
    Holiday is a 1938 is a film directed by George Cukor, a remake of the 1930 film of the same name. The film is a romantic comedy which tells the story of a man who has risen from humble beginnings only to be torn between his free-thinking lifestyle and the tradition of his wealthy fiancée's family...

     (1938)
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  • Woman of the Year
    Woman of the Year
    Woman of the Year is a romantic comedy film. The movie is about an emancipated woman, chosen "Woman of the Year", and her colleague-turned-husband and their efforts to negotiate a path to marital bliss....

     (1942)
  • Adam's Rib
    Adam's Rib
    Adam's Rib is a 1949 American film written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin and directed by George Cukor. It stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as married lawyers who come to oppose each other in court. Judy Holliday co-stars in her first substantial film role...

     (1949)
  • The African Queen (1951)
  • Summertime (1955)
  • Suddenly, Last Summer
    Suddenly, Last Summer (film)
    Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 American Southern Gothic mystery film based on the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams. The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Sam Spiegel from a screenplay by Gore Vidal and Williams. The music score was by Buxton Orr using themes by...

     (1959)
  • Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Long Day's Journey into Night (1962 film)
    Long Day's Journey into Night is a 1962 film adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play. It was directed by Sidney Lumet and produced by Ely Landau with Joseph E. Levine and Jack J. Dreyfus, Jr. as executive producers. The screenplay was by Eugene O'Neill, the music score by André Previn and the...

     (1962)
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American drama film starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and featuring Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton...

     (1967)
  • The Lion in Winter
    The Lion in Winter (1968 film)
    The Lion in Winter is a 1968 historical drama made by Avco Embassy Pictures, based on the Broadway play by James Goldman. It was directed by Anthony Harvey and produced by Joseph E...

     (1968)
  • On Golden Pond
    On Golden Pond (1981 film)
    On Golden Pond is a 1981 American drama film directed by Mark Rydell. The screenplay by Ernest Thompson was adapted from his 1979 play of the same title. Henry Fonda won the Academy Award in what was his final film role. Co-star Katharine Hepburn also received an Oscar, as did Thompson for his...

     (1981)Select theatre roles:
  • The Philadelphia Story
    The Philadelphia Story (play)
    The Philadelphia Story is a 1939 American comic play by Philip Barry. It tells the story of a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and an attractive journalist.-Production:...

     (1939–1941)
  • As You Like It
    As You Like It
    As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility...

     (1950)
  • The Millionairess (1952)
  • The Taming of the Shrew
    The Taming of the Shrew
    The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1591.The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself...

     (1955)
  • Measure for Measure
    Measure for Measure
    Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labelled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays...

     (1955)
  • The Merchant of Venice
    The Merchant of Venice
    The Merchant of Venice is a tragic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic...

     (1955 and 1957)
  • Much Ado About Nothing
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero....

     (1957)
  • Twelfth Night (1960)
  • Antony and Cleopatra
    Antony and Cleopatra
    Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony...

     (1960)
  • Coco
    Coco (musical)
    Coco is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by André Previn. It starred Katharine Hepburn in her only stage musical.-Background:...

     (1969–1970)
  • The West Side Waltz
    The West Side Waltz
    The West Side Waltz is a play by Ernest Thompson.The play focuses on Margaret Mary Elderdice, an aging, widowed pianist living in a dreary Upper West Side apartment, and her relationships with a prim, virginal violinist neighbor and the young companion who moves in for an extended stay.Thompson was...

     (1981)


Awards and nominations

Hepburn won four Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

, the record number for a performer, and a total of twelve Oscar nominations for Best Actress
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

, a number only surpassed by Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television and film.Streep made her professional stage debut in 1971's The Playboy of Seville, before her screen debut in the television movie The Deadliest Season in 1977. In that same year, she made her film debut with...

. She also holds the record for the longest time span between first and last Oscar nominations, at 48 years. She received two awards and five nominations from the British Film Academy Awards, one award and six nominations from the Emmy Awards, eight Golden Globe nominations, two Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

 nominations, and awards from the Cannes Film Festival
Best Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)
The Best Actress Award is an award presented at the Cannes Film Festival. It is chosen by the jury from the 'official section' of films at the festival. It was first awarded in 1946.-Award Winners:-External links:* * ....

, Venice Film Festival
Volpi Cup
The Volpi Cups are the principal awards given to actors at the Venice Film Festival. Formal acting awards were introduced in the second festival . Initially they were called Great Gold Medals of the National Fascist Association for Entertainment. The name Volpi Cup was introduced the following year...

, the New York Film Critics Circle Awards
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
The New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress is one of the awards given by the New York Film Critics Circle to honor the finest achievements in filmmaking.-1930s:-1940s:-1950s:-1960s:-1970s:-1980s:-1990s:-2000s:-2010s:...

, the People's Choice Awards
People's Choice Awards
The People's Choice Awards is an American awards show recognizing the people and the work of popular culture. The show has been held annually since 1975 and is voted on by the general public. The People's Choice Awards air on CBS and are produced by Procter & Gamble and Survivor magnate Mark Burnett...

 and others. She won a Lifetime Achievement Award
Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award
The Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award is given by the Screen Actors Guild's National Honors and Tributes Committee "for outstanding achievement in fostering the finest ideals of the acting profession." The award predates the 1st Screen Actors Guild Awards by over thirty years, having been...

 from the Screen Actors Guild
Screen Actors Guild Awards
A Screen Actors Guild Award is an accolade given by the Screen Actors Guild to recognize outstanding performances by its members. The statuette given, a nude male figure holding both a mask of comedy and a mask of tragedy, is called "The Actor"...

 and received the Kennedy Center Honors
Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

, which recognize a lifetime of accomplishments in the arts, in 1990.

Academy Award wins and nominations (all for Best Actress):
  • 6th Academy Awards
    6th Academy Awards
    The 6th Academy Awards were held on March 16, 1934 at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. They were hosted by Will Rogers and Rogers also presented all of the awards....

     (1934): Win for Morning Glory
  • 8th Academy Awards
    8th Academy Awards
    The 8th Academy Awards were held on March 5, 1936 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California. They were hosted by Frank Capra. This was the first year in which the gold statuettes were called "Oscars."...

     (1936): Nomination for Alice Adams
    Alice Adams (film)
    Alice Adams, also known as Booth Tarkington's Alice Adams, is a 1935 romantic film made by RKO. It was directed by George Stevens and produced by Pandro S. Berman from a screenplay by Dorothy Yost, Mortimer Offner adapted by Jane Murfin from the novel, Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington...

  • 13th Academy Awards
    13th Academy Awards
    The 13th Academy Awards honored American film achievements in 1940. This was the first year that sealed envelopes were used to keep secret the names of the winners which led to the famous phrase: "May I have the Envelope, please." The accounting firm of Price Waterhouse was hired to count the...

     (1941): Nomination for The Philadelphia Story
  • 15th Academy Awards
    15th Academy Awards
    The 15th Academy Awards was held in the Cocoanut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Best Picture honors went to the film Mrs. Miniver. The ceremony is most famous for the speech by the film’s Oscar-winning actress Greer Garson...

     (1943): Nomination for Woman of the Year
    Woman of the Year
    Woman of the Year is a romantic comedy film. The movie is about an emancipated woman, chosen "Woman of the Year", and her colleague-turned-husband and their efforts to negotiate a path to marital bliss....

  • 24th Academy Awards
    24th Academy Awards
    The 24th Academy Awards is an event that honored the Greatest Films of 1951.Best Picture was awarded to An American in Paris, which, like A Place in the Sun, received six academy awards...

     (1952): Nomination for The African Queen
  • 28th Academy Awards
    28th Academy Awards
    The 28th Academy Awards were presented at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Marty, a simple and low-budget film usually uncharacteristic of Best Picture awardees, became the shortest film to win the top honor.This year also was notable for having only 2 of the best picture...

     (1956): Nomination for Summertime
  • 29th Academy Awards
    29th Academy Awards
    During the 29th Academy Awards, the regular competitive category of Best Foreign Language Film was introduced, instead of only being recognized as a Special Achievement Award or as a Best Picture nominee . The first winner in this new category was Federico Fellini's La strada with Anthony Quinn and...

     (1957): Nomination for The Rainmaker
    The Rainmaker (1956 film)
    The Rainmaker is a 1956 film directed by Joseph Anthony and adapted by N. Richard Nash from his play The Rainmaker. The film tells the story of a middle-aged woman, suffering from unrequited love for the local town sheriff; however, she falls for a con man who comes to town with the promise that he...

  • 32nd Academy Awards
    32nd Academy Awards
    The 32nd Academy Awards honored film achievements of 1959 on 4 April 1960.MGM's and director William Wyler's three and a half-hour long epic drama Ben-Hur won 11 Oscars in 1959, breaking the previous year's all-time record of nine...

     (1960): Nomination for Suddenly, Last Summer
    Suddenly, Last Summer (film)
    Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 American Southern Gothic mystery film based on the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams. The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Sam Spiegel from a screenplay by Gore Vidal and Williams. The music score was by Buxton Orr using themes by...

  • 35th Academy Awards
    35th Academy Awards
    The 35th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 1962, were held on April 8, 1963 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California...

     (1963): Nomination for Long Day's Journey Into Night
    Long Day's Journey into Night (1962 film)
    Long Day's Journey into Night is a 1962 film adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play. It was directed by Sidney Lumet and produced by Ely Landau with Joseph E. Levine and Jack J. Dreyfus, Jr. as executive producers. The screenplay was by Eugene O'Neill, the music score by André Previn and the...

  • 40th Academy Awards
    40th Academy Awards
    The 40th Academy Awards honored film achievements of 1967. Originally scheduled for 8 April 1968, the awards were postponed to two days later, 10 April 1968, because of the assassination of Dr...

     (1968): Win for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American drama film starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and featuring Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton...

  • 41st Academy Awards
    41st Academy Awards
    The 41st Academy Awards were presented April 14, 1969 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. It was the first Academy Awards ceremony broadcast worldwide. There was no host....

     (1969): Win for The Lion in Winter
    The Lion in Winter (1968 film)
    The Lion in Winter is a 1968 historical drama made by Avco Embassy Pictures, based on the Broadway play by James Goldman. It was directed by Anthony Harvey and produced by Joseph E...

     (shared with Barbra Streisand
    Barbra Streisand
    Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy,...

     for Funny Girl
    Funny Girl (film)
    Funny Girl is a 1968 romantic musical film directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by Isobel Lennart was adapted from her book for the stage musical of the same title...

    )
  • 54th Academy Awards
    54th Academy Awards
    The 54th Academy Awards were presented March 29, 1982 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by Johnny Carson....

     (1982): Win for On Golden Pond
    On Golden Pond (1981 film)
    On Golden Pond is a 1981 American drama film directed by Mark Rydell. The screenplay by Ernest Thompson was adapted from his 1979 play of the same title. Henry Fonda won the Academy Award in what was his final film role. Co-star Katharine Hepburn also received an Oscar, as did Thompson for his...


External links

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