Katherine Hepburn: Cinematic legend

” Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get- only with what you are expecting to give- which is everything” Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12th,1907- June 29th,2003)

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Aside from her extensive stage and screen performances, she holds the record for the most Best Actress Oscar wins with 4 out of 12 nominations, she has co-starred with such legendary screen legends as Cary Grant, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Laurence Olivier, Henry Fonda & Spencer Tracy. She won her first Academy Award for 1933’s Morning Glory, directed by Lowell Sherman starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr and Adolphe Menjou. She would later be nominated 11 times in her career- winning 3 more Academy Awards, including 2 consecutive Oscars for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1967 and The Lion in Winter in 1968, an Oscar she shared with Barbara Streisand for her performance in Funny Girl. She would also be one of only 2 actresses who have won Oscars consecutively (the other actress being the late great Luise Rainer). Her final Academy Award nomination and win was for 1981’s On Golden Pond, directed by Mark Rydell co-starring Henry Fonda, Dabney Coleman and Jane Fonda. This was not only Fonda’s final film role, it was also his only film which garnered him his only Oscar win as the year’s Best Actor (his other Oscar nod was for the iconic Ford classic The Grapes of Wrath; Fonda’s close friend Jimmy Stewart won that year for his indelible performance in The Philadelphia Story, also starring Hepburn)! Her other noteworthy Oscar nominations included Alice Adams (1935), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Woman of the Year (1942), The African Queen (1951), Summertime (1955), The Rainmaker (1956), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) and Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962). Hepburn’s most successful pairing was with the awe-inspiring classic film actor Spencer Tracy, with whom she had an intense love affair with yet remained lifelong friends until his passing in 1967 (Tracy was posthumously nominated for his role in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner under the direction of Stanley Kramer; the film was released in December 1967, six months after his death and only 17 days after filming ended). As one of classic Hollywood’s most beloved and enduring onscreen couples, Tracy & Hepburn made 9 successful films together starting with 1942’s Woman of the Year, directed by George Stevens and ending with Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner . This film would later mark the chemistry and depth that actor Anthony Hopkins quoted simply ” just crackled”- and it did! Katharine Hepburn also received an Emmy award for her performance in 1975’s Love Among the Ruins, directed by George Cukor, as well as a string of Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe nominations. All in all, her legendary career lasted from the years 1928-1995.4

She began her career as a successful stage actress in 1932, which brought her noticeable attention from Hollywood. After a few early film successes, one of which was her Academy Award winning performance in Morning Glory, Hepburn endured a string of flops which led to her being voted ” box office poison”. But this did not deter Katharine Hepburn; she would later find her success in not only a hugely successful Broadway play, but in its film adaptation that would revive her flagging career and put her back on top again: The Philadelphia Story, directed by George Cukor, starred James Stewart and Cary Grant, the latter actor being Hepburn’s good friend and co-star in such films as Bringing Up Baby and Holiday (both films made in 1938). Originally, she wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy for the leading male roles. Even though she got George Cukor as her director, she was unable to get Gable and Tracy, so she settled on Grant and Stewart. The end result of the casting of The Philadelphia Story? It had not only become the biggest hit of 1940, but it also earned both Hepburn and Stewart Oscar nominations for their performances, with Jimmy Stewart winning for Best Actor of that year. Even though she lost to Ginger Rogers for her performance in Kitty Foyle, she received the New York Film Critics award for her performance. Later on, Hepburn starred in 1951’s The African Queen directed by John Huston and starring Huston’s good friend Humphrey Bogart, who won his only Oscar for his performance (Hepburn was again nominated for Best Actress for that year but lost to Vivien Leigh for A Streetcar named Desire). She continued later on working in films and stage dramas, progressing and achieving so much despite Spencer Tracy’s passing on June 10th, 1967, which left her filled with tears because she knew that he would not have much longer to live; Hepburn never saw the completed film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner saying the memories of Tracy were too painful.1

On June 29th, 2003, Katharine Houghton Hepburn died of natural causes at Fenwick, the Hepburn family home in Old Saybrook Connecticut at the age of 96 and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford Connecticut in the family plot. In honor of her extensive theater work, the lights on Broadway were dimmed for an hour. The book Kate Remembered, by close friend A. Scott Berg, was published just 13 days after Hepburn’s passing; Warner Bros. Home Video celebrated the 100th anniversary of her birth by releasing a boxed set of movies not previously available on DVD: the 1979 TV movie The Corn Is Green along with Morning Glory (1933), Sylvia Scarlett (1936), Dragon Seed (1944), Without Love (1945) & Undercurrent (1946) 81MLZtsHfXL._SY445_Today, I am very honored to dedicate this post to Katharine Hepburn in recognition and acknowledgment of the films that she starred in her sixty film career. She remained a survivor in the last years of her life, an outgoing yet immensely talented individual of the silver screen who endured the struggles, hardships, trials and tribulations that are sometimes associated with the success of being an actress, on stage and in film. But she was also one of the most beloved, respected, admired and deeply appreciated actresses who has ever graced the stage and silver screen. She brought out a fiery depth of passion and love that truly emanated from such an immensely talented and prolific actress of the stage and screen. Katharine Hepburn was so much more than an Academy Award winning actress: to me, she was also a kind, charismatic, compassionate and deeply affectionate human being with a warm, loving and sincere soul….someone, with whom myself and countless classic film lovers everywhere, will always have the utmost respect for!5

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