Graduated from Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1928, with a degree in history and
She never watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) because it was Spencer
Tracy's last film.
Walked around the studio in her underwear in the early 1930s when the costume department stole her slacks from her
dressing room. She refused to put anything else on until they were returned.
She was nearly decapitated by an aeroplane propeller when she was rushing about an airport, avoiding the press.
A leading contender for Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), she later
served as Maid of Honor at Vivien Leigh's and Laurence Olivier's
Had a relationship with Spencer Tracy from 1943 until his death in 1967.
Born at 3:47pm-EST.
Aunt of actress Katharine Houghton, who portrayed her character's daughter in Guess Who's
Coming to Dinner (1967).
Admitted to using her brother's birthdate as her own for years.
Does not suffer from Parkinson's disease. She set the record straight in the 1993 TV documentary
Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) (TV), which she narrated herself. Quote: "Now to squash
a rumor. No, I don't have Parkinson's. I inherited my shaking head from my grandfather Hepburn. I discovered that
whisky helps stop the shaking. Problem is, if you're not careful, it stops the rest of you too. My head just
shakes, but I promise you, it ain't gonna fall off!"
Was admitted to a Hartford hospital for treatment for a urinary infection. Her release was delayed
because doctors wanted to monitor her walking. [18 July 2001]
Was a direct descendant of Britain's King John through one of his illegitimate children.
Hepburn played King John's mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, in
The Lion in Winter (1968).
Great-aunt of Schuyler Grant and Daniel Jenkins.
Turned down the role of Marilla in Anne of Green Gables (1985) (TV), but recommended her great-niece, Schuyler
Grant for the role of Anne. Schuyler ended up playing Diana instead.
Meryl Streep beat her in the number of Oscar nominations, when she received her 13th Oscar nod for
Adaptation. (2002). However, Hepburn still reigns as the only 4-time Oscar
recipient for acting.
As of 2009, "Only Tie in Oscars For Best Actress", Barbra Streisand for Funny
Girl (1968) and Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter (1968) in
Her father's name was Thomas Hepburn and her mother's name was Katharine
Houghton. Each of their six children were given Mrs. Hepburn's maiden name for their middle names.
Was nominated for two Tony Awards: in 1970 as Best Actress (Musical), for playing the title
character, Coco Chanel in "Coco," and in 1982 as Best Actress (Play), for
"The West Side Waltz." She lost both times.
Her maternal grandfather; her father's brother, Charlie; and her older brother,
Tom, all committed suicide. These tragedies were never talked about in her family. Ms.
Hepburn said of her parents, "There was nothing to be done about these matters and [my parents] simply
did not believe in moaning about anything."
Admitted that she was menstruating while making The African Queen (1951), which resulted in giving
her fellow crew members the impression that she was moody and difficult.
On June 2004 Sotheby's auction house hosted a two-day estate of Katharine Hepburn, auctioning of
personal belongings of the legendary actress to collectors. The auction included her furniture, jewelry (which
included the platinum, diamond and sapphire given to her by then-boyfriend Howard Hughes which
fetched $120,000, six times its estimated price), paperwork (such as personal checks, telegrams, birth
certificates, letters, film contracts, movie scripts), and nomination certificates from the Academy
Awards. Among other items were casual clothes, and gowns that included her unusual wedding dress to
Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928, made of crushed white velvet with antiqued gold embroidery, sold for
$27,000. Also consisted in the lot were house decorations drawings and paintings done by the actress herself,
glamour portraits, and a glass bronze sculpture entitled "Angel on a Wave" sold for $90,000 while
a self-portrait entitled "Breakfast in Bed and a Self-Portrait in Brisbane, Australia", fetched
$33,000, some 40 times the estimated price. Movie memorabilia comprised of a ring from her 1968 film The
Lion in Winter (1968), Gertrud (1964), the canoe from the film On Golden
Pond (1981) sold for $19,200 to entertainer Wayne Newton and the most sought after piece
and the most expensive item was the bronze bust of Spencer Tracy that Hepburn
created herself and was featured in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). The audience cheered when
the 3-inch sculpture sold for $316,000, compared to an estimate of $3,000-$5,000. The only awards
that were won by the actress to be auctioned of were the 1958 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, the
annual Shakespeare club of New York City, the Fashion Desinger Lifetime
Achievment, a few Box Office Blue Ribbons, the Walk of Fame plaque and
the 1990 Kennedy Center Honor. Her four Oscars were not included due to contract
She was one of the few great stars in Hollywood who made no attempt to sugarcoat her true personality for anyone, a
personality that was by all accounts feisty and some would say nasty. She was infamous for letting those whom she
disliked know it.
Was a natural red head.
Her affair with Howard Hughes was portrayed by Cate Blanchett and
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator (2004).
Was a self-confessed fan of John Gilbert and Greta Garbo.
In The Lion in Winter (1968) she plays the mother of Richard Lionheart, who is
played by Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins later said that Hepburn's
voice was, in part, the basis for Hannibal Lecter's voice.
She was of Scottish and English descent.
Expressed great fondness for actors Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Melanie Griffith and
Julia Roberts, and great disdain for Meryl Streep, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and - in particular - Woody
In a letter to Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Gregory Peck, she claimed
that sentiment for the passing away of her long-time lover and co-star, Spencer Tracy, had been
part of the reason she won her second Oscar for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). She told
Peck that she modeled her award-winning characterization of "Christina Drayton"
on her mother.
When Cate Blanchett won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Aviator (2004),
Hepburn became the first previous Oscar winner to become an Oscar-winning movie role.
According to Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley's book "Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the
American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s",Hepburn was a leftist in her politics in
the 1940s. When the Conference of Studio Unions, headed by suspected Communist Party member
Herb Sorrell, launched a strike in 1946-47 against the studios and fought other unions for control
over Hollywood's collective bargaining, she expressed support for him. (Sorrell had been
kidnapped, beaten, and left as dead during the strike, possibly by by the Mafia, which up until
the early 1940s, had controlled the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which
was contesting the CSU for jurisdiction over Hollywood unions.) At a Screen Writers
Guild meeting during the CSU strike, Hepburn made a speech which anti-communist, anti-CSU
SAG activist Ronald Reagan recognized as being based word for word on a CSU strike bulletin.
Hepburn's lover Spencer Tracy's admonition that actors should stay out of
politics ("Remember who shot Lincoln") was ignored by Hepburn, whose mother had been
sympathetic to Marxism and the Soviet Union, despite their family's wealth. On
May 19, 1947, Hepburn addressed a Progressive Party rally at the
Hollywood Legion Stadium with Progressive Party stalwart and later presidential candidate
Henry Wallace, the former vice president of the U.S. who had been sacked from President Harry S.
Truman's cabinet for being pro- Soviet. Wearing a red dress,
Hepburn delivered a speech, written by Communist Party member and soon-to-be
Hollywood Ten indictee Dalton Trumbo. When screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. (winner
of an Oscar for writing her picture Woman of the Year (1942) and one of the
Hollywood Ten) was jailed, she wrote a letter of support for him. Years later, in 1964, when
Lardner was trying to get Tracy to star in The Cincinnati Kid
(1965), he thanked Hepburn for her support. She told him she didn't remember writing the letter
and refused to talk about it.
Became very fond of Christopher Reeve, both as an actor and as a person, when he made his
Broadway debut opposite her in the 1978 production of "A Matter of Gravity". She became so fond of
him that she used to tease him that she wanted him to take care of her when she retired. Ironically, his reply was
"Miss Hepburn, I don't think I'll live that long".
Is one of the many movie stars mentioned in Madonna's song "Vogue"
She and Spencer Tracy acted together in 9 movies: Adam's Rib (1949), Desk
Set (1957), Keeper of the Flame (1942), Pat and Mike (1952), The
Sea of Grass (1947), State of the Union (1948), Without Love (1945),
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) and Woman of the Year (1942).
After marrying Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928, she forced him to change his name to S. Ogden
Ludlow. She objected to her married name being "Katharine Smith" because there was already a
well-known (and rather portly) radio singer with the same name.
One of Hollywood's early tall leading ladies, standing over 5' 7" in an era when most actresses were only a little
over 5' 0".
Kate Bosworth has said that Hepburn was her primary inspiration for her portrayal of "Lois
Lane" in Superman Returns (2006).
She thought Melanie Griffith was a good actress, but would fade away quickly. She also saw
Julia Roberts as the next big thing. But the actress she loved above all was Vanessa
Redgrave. She adored every performance Ms Redgrave has ever given and would tell people
that she was, "A thrill to look at and to listen to".
Did not attend Spencer Tracy's funeral out of respect to his family.
A resident of Manhattan's Turtle Bay Gardens for most of her life, Hepburn
actually lived in a four-story brownstone at 244 East 49th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenue).
Famous neighbors over the years have included, Robert Benton, Stephen Sondheim, Garson Kanin and
wife Ruth Gordon.
Is the only movie star to win four Academy Awards, all for her leading roles in Morning Glory
(1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and
On Golden Pond (1981).
Gained a permanent eye infection while failing to close her eyes when she was asked to fall into a
Venice Canal during the filming of Summertime (1955).
Did all her own stunts because the stunt woman never stood up straight enough.
Was known for being an avid golfer, tennis player, and swimmer. She is also known for taking cold showers.
Is in the Guinness World Records-book for "Most 'Best Actress' Oscars Won".
She is a descendant of "Eleanor of Aquitaine", whom she portrayed in The Lion in
Was nominated 12 times for the Academy Award, all as Best Actress, winning four times.
Jack Nicholson also has 12 nominations (8 as Best Actor and 4 Best Supporting Actor nominations)
and three win (two Best Actor trophies and one Best Supporting Actor gong). Hepburn beat out previous acting
nomination record holder Bette Davis (a double winner who was nominated 10 times for an Academy
Award, all of them Best Actress nods) with her 11th nod and 3rd win for The Lion in
Winter (1968) (a record she extended with her 12 nomination and fourth win for On Golden Pond (1981).
Herpburn herself was surpassed by Meryl Streep, with 13 nods (11 in the Best
Actress category) and two wins (one in the Best Actress category and one Best supporting actress award). While it
is possible that Nicholson might equal her four Oscar acting wins, it is improbable that her record of four wins in
the top category will ever be equaled, let alone surpassed.
Is one of only five thespians to be nominated for acting honors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts &
Sciences over five decades: (1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s). Only Laurence
Olivier (1930s-1970s), Paul Newman (1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s) and
Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine (1960s-2000s) have turned the trick.
Spoofed in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon Little Red Walking Hood (1937), in
which Little Red Riding Hood speaks exactly like her.
Godmother of Stanley Kramer's daughter Katharine. She was named after
Hepburn, who was directed by Kramer in Guess Who's Coming to
Despite her success at the Oscars, she never attended an Academy Awards ceremony as a nominee. Her
only appearance was at the 1974 awards to present the Irving Thalberg Award to her friend
Lawrence Weingarten. When she went onstage to a standing ovation, she said "I'm living proof
that a person can wait forty-one years to be unselfish.".
Thanked by Natalie Merchant in the liner notes of her album "Motherland".
Her former maid, Emma Faust Tillman, held the title of "World's Oldest Person"
for only four days (January 24-28, 2007). Her four-day reign, which was certified by the Guinness World Records
committee was also the shortest one on record.
Was a close friend of actor Peter O'Toole. His daughter, Kate O'Toole, was named
One of her closest friends, Canadian portrait artist Myfanwy Pavelic died on May 11, 2007, one day
short of Hepburn's 100th birthday anniversary.
Thought very highly of the acting talents of Jeremy Irons and John Lithgow. She
particularly disliked Meryl Streep, claiming she could recognize Streep's
constant search for tactics during a performance. Hepburn also thought Glenn
Close talented, but said openly Close's feet were too big for audiences to take her
seriously as an actress.
The intersection of East 49th Street and Second Avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City was renamed
"Katherine Hepburn Place" shortly after her passing. Hepburn lived in a
brownstone (244 East 49th Street) which is close to the intersection.
Dropped out of the The Blue Bird (1976) before shooting began.
Was fired by the producer of Travels with My Aunt (1972) early in the filming for demanding too
many script changes.
Her accumulation of 12 Oscar nominations (4 wins) was accomplished over a period of 48 years.
Main rival Meryl Streep had 12 nominations (2 wins) after only 21 years (with an additional 2
nominations by 2007). Bette Davis scored 11 nominations (2 wins) over 28 years. To date (2009),
Streep holds the world record for her 15 nominations.
Suffered from pyrophobia (fear of fire).
Godmother of Sam Robards, son of Lauren Bacall and Jason Robards.
According to Anthony Harvey - the director of The Lion in Winter (1968) - she
kept the Oscar she received for the film in a paper bag and in a cupboard for years after he'd
delivered it to her.
Appointed Cynthia McFadden Executrix of her estate.
Aunt of Mundy Hepburn.
Her first name is often misspelled as Katherine, it is actually spelled Katharine
with a second A. She was known for correcting those who spelled it wrong.
During what is argued by film historians to be the greatest year in classic American cinema, she was a rare star
who did not appear in a film in 1939. Instead, she was on stage playing Tracy Lord in "The
Philadelphia Story," which proved to be her comeback after being branded as box-office poison.
Was with Spencer Tracy the night he died. According to her, he had gotten up in the middle of the
night to get a glass of milk. She followed the sickly Tracy to the kitchen but before she got
there she heard a glass shatter and then a loud thud. She found Tracy dead on the floor; he had
suffered a massive heart attack.
The scene in which her character falls into the canal in Summertime (1955) left her with a
permanent eye infection as the water was contaminated.
Turned down the role of Kitty Foyle in Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a
Woman (1940). The part was then given to Ginger Rogers, who went on to win the Best
Actress Oscar for her performance.
Survived the Great New England Hurricane of Sept. 21, 1938 while at her summer home in
Fenwick, CT. Reportedly she was there considering a marriage proposal by Howard
Hughes. The storm killed at least 682.
Was offered the part of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940), but she turned
it down. As a result Rosalind Russell was cast instead.
According to her friend and biographer A. Scott Berg, although she said often that Alice
Adams (1935) was her favorite film role, it was actually her performance as Mary Tyrone in Long
Day's Journey Into Night (1962) that she regarded as her greatest achievement in film.
At first Spencer Tracy simply called her "That Woman" or
"Shorty." Over the years his list of pet names for her grew to include Olive Oyl,
Zasu Pitts, Madame Defarge, Madame Curie, Dr. Kronkheit, Molly Malone, Carry Nation, Mrs. Thomas Whiffen, Laura La
Plante, Flora Finch, Miss America, and Coo-Coo, the Bird Girl. When he wasn't needling her affectionately,
it was simply Kath or, most often, Kathy.
Her first picture was A Bill of Divorcement (1932), starring aging matinee idol John
Barrymore. Some accounts of the film's production insist that Barrymore was quite patient
with the jittery newcomer as she adapted to the new medium. Others relate that the alcoholic man invited
Kate to his dressing room, stripped naked, and tried to seduce her. Yet another report says that
when filming ended, Hepburn told Barrymore,"Thank goodness I don't have to
act with you anymore," to which a nonplussed John replied, "I didn't know you ever had,
She was almost a professional tennis player. Every morning of her life when she was in Hollywood, at 6:00
A.M., Katharine took a lesson at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Bogart said of her, "I don't think she tries to be a character. I think she is one."
She survived a near-fatal car crash in 1984.
The occasion of Hepburn's 90th birthday, on May 12, 1997, was marked by the dedication of the
Katharine Hepburn Garden in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the United Nations. The
garden is in the New York City neighborhood of Turtle Bay, where the actress lived for six
She never regretted her association with Louis B. Mayer, whom she considered one of the most
honest and trustworthy persons she had ever met. When he was squeezed out of M-G-M, she left the
studio out of respect for her friend. Mayer, on his death bed, asked to see Kate
and she was there for him.
She took up to eight showers a day and brushed her teeth just as often.
"We're all in a serious spot when the original bag lady wins a prize for the way she dresses,"Katharine remarked when the Council of Fashion Designers of America gave her its
Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986.
Won a figure-skating bronze medal at Madison Square Gardens in New York at fourteen years of
Her parents were radicals. At home there were open discussions about sex. Her father's favorite place to hold court
was in his dressing room where, in the nude, he expounded on the problems of the world.
Ten-year old Kate cut her hair off, wore boys' clothes, and called herself
Her angular, bony features and tomboyish body made her the precursor to the lanky runway model.
Had such a phobia about dirty hair she used to go around movie sets sniffing people's hair.
Played herself in Stage Door Canteen (1943).
She is a big eater and enjoys home-made meals prepared by her cook.
Walt Disney immortalized her in cartoon form, as a haughty Little Bo-Peep in his
animated short subject Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.
She was very close to her brother, Tom, and was devastated at age 14 to find him dead, the
apparent result of accidentally hanging himself while practicing a hanging trick their father had taught them. For
many years after this, Katharine used his birthday, November 8, as her own. She would not reveal her true May 12
birth date until she herself turned 84, in 1991.
Always wore slacks and no makeup.
She was branded box-office poison by the nation's exhibitors in 1938.
Little Women (1933) was a box-office smash, breaking all records up to that time.
Her 1991 autobiography, Me, was a best-seller, as was her more specific 1987 memoir, The
Making of The African Queen or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost
Her last film was Love Affair in 1994.
Lived in Old Saybrook, near Hartford, Connecticut.
Patterned the personality of the missionary she played in The African Queen after
When she came to Hollywood she wore only skirts until she found a good tailor to make suits for her.
Used to carry a white monkey around the studio lot and tie it to the desks of people she wanted to plague.
Her father, Thomas N. Hepburn, was a surgeon-urologist who attempted to educate the public about
Howard Hughes reportedly purchased the film rights of The Philadelphia Story (1940) for her.
Won three of her four Best Actress Oscars after the age of 60.
Was named Best Classic Actress of the 20th Century in an Entertainment Weekly
on-line poll, just barely (21.5% to 20.6%) beating out runner-up Audrey Hepburn. [September
Ranked #1 woman in the AFI's "50 Greatest Movie Legends." [June 1999]
Ranked #68 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time"
list. [October 1997]
On American Film Institute's list of "Top 100 U.S. Love Stories," compiled in June 2002,
Hepburn led all actresses with six of her films on the list. (Actor Cary Grant,
co-star with her in two of them, led the male field, also with six films on list). The duo's The
Philadelphia Story (1940) was ranked #44 and their Bringing Up Baby (1938) ranked #51.
Hepburn's four other movies on AFI Top "100 Love Movies list" are: - #14 The African Queen (1951)
- #22 On Golden Pond (1981) - #58 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - #74
Woman of the Year (1942)
She was voted the "2nd Greatest Movie Star of All Time" by Entertainment
She was voted the 14th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere
Her performance as "Eleanor of Aquitaine" in The Lion in Winter (1968) is
ranked #13 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time
Her performance as "Tracy Lord" in The Philadelphia Story (1940) is
ranked #54 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time
Her performance as "Rose Sayer" in The African Queen (1951) is ranked
#94 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Her performance as "Susan Vance" in Bringing Up Baby (1938) is ranked #21 on
Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Three films of hers are on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time. They are:
The African Queen (1951) at #48, On Golden Pond (1981) at #45, and Guess
Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) at #35.
The American Film Institute voted her the greatest American female screen legend of all