An independent woman who made her mark portraying heroines just as willful and unforgettable as she was, as at home in light comedy as in provocative drama, this sculpted New England beauty deservedly spanned generations as a prominent motion picture presence. Born in Hartford to a prominent urologist father and a suffragist pioneer mother, Katharine Houghton Hepburn's upbringing understandably vested her with regard for both physical culture and free thought. Largely home-schooled in her adolescence after the devastating loss of her beloved older brother, Hepburn's childhood interest in acting flowered into fixation while she was matriculating at Bryn Mawr, and she signed on with a Baltimore stock company upon her graduation. The willful novice spent the next several seasons getting herself hired, fired, and re-hired by stage directors and playwrights on and off Broadway, until scoring a hit with her casting as an Amazon in 1932's "The Warrior's Husband." Her efforts sufficiently impressed an RKO scout that David O. Selznick sought her out for "A Bill of Divorcement." Hepburn countered the salary offer by demanding the figure be tripled--and to her own great surprise, she won out.
Hollywood success came quickly for the iconoclastic outsider; her notices for "Bill of Divorcement" were strong, and it only took her third film, "Morning Glory," for her to obtain the Best Actress Oscar. She followed with another triumph with her characterization of Jo March in the 1933 "Little Women." However, her next several years at RKO would largely be rocky; with the notable exceptions of "Alice Adams" (Oscar-nominated) and "Stage Door," her projects were received indifferently by the public and pounced upon by critics. After the bust of the now-heralded comedy "Bringing Up Baby," Hepburn bought out the balance of her RKO deal and left Hollywood to regroup. She did so with a triumphant Broadway return in the tailored vehicle "The Philadelphia Story"; after shrewdly procuring the film rights to the play, she extracted multiple concessions from MGM for its screen adaptation, including a guarantee for her casting. The resulting critical and commercial hit brought her another nomination from the Academy and reignited her career.
Her follow-up assignment, "Woman of the Year," not only brought another Oscar nod, but heralded another significant phase in her resume and her life. Paired for the first time with Spencer Tracy, the actors' immediate affinity for one another was wholly apparent, and it would carry over off-screen; the relationship endured despite Tracy's disinclination to divorce his wife on religious grounds. It was their co-starring projects that most notably marked Kate's resume over the balance of the '40s, including "Without Love," "The Sea of Grass," "Keeper of the Flame," "State of the Union" and "Adam's Rib." With the coming of the '50s and her middle years, Hepburn's missionary-turned-adventuress in "The African Queen" brought another Academy Award nomination and set the tone for the spinster roles that she would begin to inhabit. Highlights from the Eisenhower era would include her continued teamings with Tracy in "Pat and Mike" and "Desk Set," as well as her Oscar-nominated efforts in "Summertime," "The Rainmaker" and "Suddenly, Last Summer."
The advent of the '60s found the hard-living Tracy's health in serious decline, and after completing "Long Day's Journey into Night," Hepburn took a five-year career hiatus in order to care for him. They'd make one final screen appearance together, as the parents whose progressive postures get tested by their daughter's engagement to physician Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Tracy died soon after the production wrapped; Hepburn's efforts resulted in her second Best Actress Oscar. She'd have an unprecedented third win the following year for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine in "The Lion in Winter." Indomitable even in her seniority, the actress took another stab at Broadway for an acclaimed, Tony-nominated run in "Coco." In the course of the '70s, Kate's big screen activity was largely marked by filmed plays and the "True Grit" follow-up "Rooster Cogburn"; she found a regular outlet via telefims, notably "The Glass Menagerie," "Love Among the Ruins" and "The Corn is Green."
Although growing increasingly tremulous, Hepburn continued to work, and showed that she had more triumphs left in her; paired with Henry Fonda for the sunset story "On Golden Pond," she'd complete her career Oscar run with twelve nominations and a perhaps never-to-be-matched four wins. Afterwards, she moved largely into retirement, working on a 1991 autobiography; she'd surface intermittently over the next decade in made-for-TV projects ("Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry," "Laura Lansing Slept Here"). In 1994, after one final bow on the big screen (the Warren Beatty-Annette Bening "Love Affair") and the small ("One Christmas"), Kate's health forced her to call it a career. The hardy Hepburn thereafter lived quietly until her passing in 2003 at the age of ninety-six.
Click on any title for more information.
Click on any title for more information.
Pricing valid as of Thursday, December 05, 2013.
All prices and availability subject to change without notice.