Katharine Hepburn

Biography

Date of Birth 12 May 1907, Hartford, Connecticut, USA Date of Death 29 June 2003, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, USA (natural causes) Birth Name Katharine Houghton Hepburn Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m) Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn, a successful urologist from Virginia, and Katharine Martha Houghton, a suffragette and birth control advocate, who, along with Margaret Sanger, helped to found the organization that became Planned Parenthood. Hepburn's father was a staunch proponent of publicizing the dangers of venereal disease in a time when such things were not discussed, and her mother campaigned for birth control and equal rights for women. The Hepburns demanded frequent familial discussions on these topics and more, and as a result the Hepburn children were well versed in social and political issues. The Hepburn children were never asked to leave a room no matter what the topic of conversation was. Once a very young Katharine Hepburn even accompanied her mother to a suffrage rally. The Hepburn children, at their parents' encouragement, were unafraid of expressing frank views on various topics, including sex. "We were snubbed by everyone, but we grew quite to enjoy that," Hepburn later said of her unabashedly liberal family, who she credited with giving her a sense of adventure and independence. Her father insisted that his children be athletic, and encouraged swimming, riding, golf and tennis. Hepburn, eager to please her father, emerged as a fine athlete in her late teens, winning a bronze medal for figure skating from the Madison Square Garden skating club, shooting golf in the low eighties, and reaching the semifinal of the Connecticut Young Women's Golf Championship. Hepburn especially enjoyed swimming, and regularly took dips in the frigid waters that fronted her bayfront Connecticut home, generally believing that "the bitterer the medicine, the better it was for you." She continued her brisk swims well into her 80s. Hepburn would come to be recognized for her athletic physicality — she fearlessly performed her own pratfalls in films such as Bringing up Baby, which is now held up as an exemplar of screwball comedy. When Hepburn was young, she found her older brother Tom, whom she idolized, hanging from the rafters by a rope, dead of an apparent suicide. Her family denied that it was self-inflicted, arguing that he had been a happy boy; rather, they insisted that it must have been an experimentation gone awry. It has also been speculated that the boy was trying to carry out a trick that his father had taught him. Hepburn was devastated by his death and sank into a depression. She shied away from children her own age and was mostly schooled at home. For many years she used Tom's birthday (November 8) as her own. It was not until she wrote her autobiography, Me: Stories of my Life, that Hepburn revealed her true birth date. She was educated at the Kingswood-Oxford School before going on to attend Bryn Mawr College, receiving a degree in history and philosophy in 1928, the same year she had her debut on Broadway after landing a bit part in Night Hostess. A banner year for Hepburn, 1928 also marked her nuptials to socialite businessman Ludlow ("Luddy") Ogden Smith, whom she had met while attending Bryn Mawr and married after a short engagement. Hepburn and Smith's marriage was rocky from the start — she insisted he change his name to S. Ogden Ludlow so she would not be confused with well-known musician Kate Smith. They were divorced in Mexico in 1934. Fearing that the Mexican divorce was not legal, Ludlow got a second divorce in the United States in 1942 and a few days later he remarried. Although their marriage was a failure, Katharine Hepburn often expressed her gratitude toward Ludlow for his financial and moral support in the early days of her career. "Luddy" continued to be a lifelong friend to her and the Hepburn family. On September 21, 1938, Hepburn was staying in her Old Saybrook, Connecticut home when the 1938 New England Hurricane struck and destroyed her house. Hepburn narrowly escaped before the home was washed away.

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Birth Name

Katharine Houghton Hepburn

Birth Place

Hartford, Connecticut, USA

Birth Date

5/12/1907

Death Date

6/29/2003
Known For
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On Golden Pond

Ethel Thayer

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Bringing Up Baby

Susan Vance

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Christina Drayton

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Rooster Cogburn

Eula

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The Philadelphia Story

Tracy Lord

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The Lion in Winter

Eleanor of Aquitaine

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Holiday

Linda Seton

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Adam's Rib

Amanda Bonner

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Woman of the Year

Tess Harding

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Summertime

Jane Hudson

Starring In
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Call Me Kate

Self (archive footage)

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Hannibal Hopkins & Sir Anthony

Self (archive footage)

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Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

Self (archive footage)

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Smash His Camera

Self (archive footage)

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Embracing Chaos: Making the African Queen

Self / Rose Sayer (archive footage)

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Michael Jackson

Self (archive footage)

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Call the Usual Suspects: The Craft of the Character Actor

Self (archive footage)

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The Rat Pack

Herself (archive footage)

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The Line King - The Al Hirschfeld Story

Herself (voice) (uncredited)

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The first 100 Years of Cinema

Herself (archive footage)

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Love Affair

Ginny

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This Can't Be Love

Marion Bennett

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That's Entertainment III

Performer in Film Clip (archive footage) (uncredited)

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One Christmas

Cornelia Beaumont

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Oscar's Greatest Moments

Herself (archive footage)

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Laura Lansing Slept Here

Laura Lansing

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James Stewart: A Wonderful Life

Herself

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The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn

Self - Host

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Mrs. Delafield Wants To Marry

Margaret Delafield

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George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey

Self

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Grace Quigley

Grace Quigley

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On Golden Pond

Ethel Thayer

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The Corn is Green

Miss Lilly Moffat

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Olly Olly Oxen Free

Miss Pudd

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That's Entertainment Part 2

Various Clips (archive footage)

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Rooster Cogburn

Eula

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Love Among the Ruins

Jessica Medlicott

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Glass Menagerie, The (Broadway Theatre Archive)

Amanda Wingfield

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Las Troyanas

Hecuba

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Directed by John Ford

Self

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Portrait eines Produzenten - David O. Selznick in Hollywood

Herself (voice) (uncredited)

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The Lion in Winter

Eleanor of Aquitaine

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Christina Drayton

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M-G-M’s The Big Parade of Comedy

Tracy Lord (archive footage)

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Long Day's Journey Into Night

Mary Tyrone

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Suddenly, Last Summer

Mrs. Violet Venable

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Desk Set

Bunny Watson

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The Iron Petticoat

Captain Vinka Kovelenko

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The Rainmaker

Lizzie Curry

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Summertime

Jane Hudson

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Pat and Mike

Patricia 'Pat' Pemberton

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The African Queen

Rose Sayer

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Adam's Rib

Amanda Bonner

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State of the Union

Mary Matthews (as Katherine Hepburn)

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The Sea of Grass

Lutie Cameron Brewton

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Song of Love

Clara Wieck Schumann

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Undercurrent

Ann Hamilton

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Without Love

Jamie Rowan

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Dragon Seed

Jade Tan

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Stage Door Canteen

Katharine Hepburn

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Woman of the Year

Tess Harding

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Keeper of the Flame

Mrs. Christine Forrest

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The Philadelphia Story

Tracy Lord

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The Miracle of Sound

Self (archive footage)

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Holiday

Linda Seton

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Bringing Up Baby

Susan Vance

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Stage Door

Terry Randall Sims

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Quality Street

Phoebe Throssel

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Mary of Scotland

Mary Stuart

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A Woman Rebels

Pamela Thistlewaite

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Alice Adams

Alice Adams

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Sylvia Scarlet

Sylvia Scarlett a.k.a. Sylvester

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Break of Hearts

Constance Dane Roberti

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The Little Minister

Babbie

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Little Women

Jo

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Morning Glory

Eva Lovelace

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Christopher Strong

Lady Cynthia Darrington

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A Bill of Divorcement

Sidney

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