Spencer Tracy

Biography

Spencer Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was a two-time Academy Award-winning American film and stage actor who appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967. Tracy is generally regarded as one of the finest actors in motion picture history. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Tracy among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking 9th on the list of 100. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor. Career He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the second son of John Edward Tracy, an Irish American Catholic truck salesman, and Caroline Brown, a Protestant turned Christian Scientist, and was christened Spencer Bonaventure Tracy. Tracy's paternal grandparents, John Tracy and Mary Guhin, were born in Ireland. His mother's ancestry dates back to Thomas Stebbins, who immigrated from England in the late 1630s. Tracy attended six high schools, starting with Wauwatosa High School in 1915 and St. John's Cathedral School for boys in Milwaukee the following year. The Tracy family then moved to Kansas City, where Spencer was enrolled at St. Mary's College, Kansas, a boarding school in St. Marys, Kansas 30 miles west of Topeka, Kansas, then transferred to Rockhurst, a Jesuit academy in Kansas City, Missouri. John Tracy's job in Kansas City did not work out, and the family returned to Milwaukee six months after their departure. Spencer was enrolled at Marquette Academy, another Jesuit school, where he met fellow actor Pat O'Brien. The two left school in spring 1917 to enlist in the Navy with the American entry into World War I, but Tracy remained in Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia throughout the war. Afterwards, Tracy continued his high school education at Northwestern Military and Naval Academy in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, but finished his studies at Milwaukee's West Division High School (now Milwaukee High School of the Arts) in February 1921. Afterward he attended Ripon College where he appeared in a leading role in a play entitled The Truth, and decided on acting as a career. Tracy received an honorary degree from Ripon College in 1940. While touring the Northeast with the Ripon debate team, he auditioned for and was accepted to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. His first Broadway role was as a robot in Karel Capek's R.U.R. (1922), followed by five other Broadway plays in the 1920s. In 1923 he married actress Louise Treadwell. They had two children, John and Louise (Susie). For several years he performed in stock in Michigan, Canada, and Ohio. Finally in 1930 he appeared in a hit play on Broadway, The Last Mile. Director John Ford saw Tracy in The Last Mile and signed him to do Up the River for Fox Pictures. Shortly after that he and his family moved to Hollywood, where he made over 25 films in five years. In 1935 Tracy signed with Metro Goldwyn Mayer. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor two years in a row, for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938). He was also nominated for San Francisco (1936), Father of the Bride (1950), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), The Old Man and the Sea (1958), Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), and posthumously for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). Tracy and Laurence Olivier share the record for the most Academy Best Actor nods with nine Oscar nominations. In 1941, Tracy began a relationship with Katharine Hepburn, whose agile mind and New England brogue complemented Tracy's easy working-class machismo very well. Though estranged from his wife, Louise, he was a practicing Roman Catholic and never divorced. Spencer Tracy at the height of his fame.He and Hepburn made nine films together. Seventeen days after filming had completed on his last film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, with Hepburn, he died from heart failure at the age of 67. Forty years after his death, Tracy is still widely considered one of the most skillful actors of his time. He could portray the hero, the villain, or the comedian, and make the audience believe he truly was the character he played. In the 1944 film The Seventh Cross, for example, he was effective as an escaped prisoner from a German concentration camp despite his heavy-set build. Tracy was one of Hollywood's earliest "realistic" actors; his performances have stood the test of time. Actors have noted that Tracy's work in 1930s films sometimes looks like a modern actor interacting with the more stylized and dated performances of everyone around him. In 1988, the University of California, Los Angeles' Campus Events Commission and Susie Tracy created the UCLA Spencer Tracy Award. The award has been given to actors in recognition for their achievement in film acting. Past recipients include William Hurt, James Stewart, Michael Douglas, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Harrison Ford, Anjelica Houston, Nicolas Cage, Kirk Douglas, Jack Lemmon and Morgan Freeman.

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Person Photo

Birth Name

Spencer Bonaventure Tracy

Birth Place

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Birth Date

4/5/1900

Death Date

6/10/1967
Known For
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It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Capt. T. G. Culpepper

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Matt Drayton

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Judgment at Nuremberg

Chief Judge Dan Haywood

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Inherit the Wind

Henry Drummond

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Adam's Rib

Adam Bonner

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Father of the Bride

Stanley T. Banks

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Woman of the Year

Sam Craig

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The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man / Narrator

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Desk Set

Richard Sumner

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Bad Day at Black Rock

John J. Macreedy

Starring In
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Call Me Kate

Self (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Gene Tierney - Hollywoods vergessener Star

(archive footage)

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Devil's Due

Groomsman #1 (uncredited)

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Love, Wedding, Marriage

Awkward Bus Boy

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Revenge of the Bridesmaids

Groomsman (uncredited)

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1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

(archive footage)

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Die Bette Davis Story

Himself (archive footage)

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Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust

(archive footage)

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Amélie

Stanley T. Banks (uncredited) (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Walt - The Man Behind the Myth

Himself (archive footage)

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The first 100 Years of Cinema

Himself (archive footage)

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La Classe Américaine

Le témoin professionnel (archive footage)

Movie Poster

The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn

(archive footage)

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George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey

Self (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Hollywood Out-Takes and rare Footage

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

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That's Entertainment Part 2

Various Clips (archive footage)

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Portrait eines Produzenten - David O. Selznick in Hollywood

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Matt Drayton

Movie Poster

M-G-M’s The Big Parade of Comedy

Haggerty in 'Libeled Lady' (archive footage)

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It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Capt. T. G. Culpepper

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How the West Was Won

Narrated by (voice)

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Judgment at Nuremberg

Chief Judge Dan Haywood

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The Devil at 4 O'Clock

Father Matthew Doonan

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Inherit the Wind

Henry Drummond

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The Last Hurrah

Frank Skeffington

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The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man / Narrator

Movie Poster

Desk Set

Richard Sumner

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The Mountain

Zachary Teller

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Bad Day at Black Rock

John J. Macreedy

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Broken Lance

Matt Devereaux

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Theaterfieber

Clinton Jones

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Pat and Mike

Mike Conovan

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Plymouth Adventure

Capt. Christopher Jones

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Father's Little Dividend

Stanley Banks

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The People Against O'Hara

James P. Curtayne

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Father of the Bride

Stanley T. Banks

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Adam's Rib

Adam Bonner

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Edward, My Son

Arnold Boult

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Malaya

Carnahan

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State of the Union

Grant Matthews

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The Sea of Grass

Col. James B. 'Jim' Brewton

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Cass Timberlane

Cass Timberlane

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Without Love

Pat Jamieson

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Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle

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The Seventh Cross

George Heisler

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A Guy Named Joe

Pete Sandidge

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Woman of the Year

Sam Craig

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Tortilla Flat

Pilon

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Keeper of the Flame

Steven 'Stevie' O'Malley

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde

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Men of Boys Town

Father Flanagan

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The Miracle of Sound

Self (archive footage)

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Boom Town

Square John Sand

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Northwest Passage

Maj. Robert Rogers

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Hollywood: Style Center of the World

Self (archive footage)

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Edison, The Man

Thomas A. Edison

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I Take This Woman

Karl Decker

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Young Tom Edison

Man Admiring Portrait of Thomas A. Edison (uncredited)

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From the Ends of the Earth

Self (archive footage)

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Stanley and Livingstone

Henry M Stanley

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Boys Town

Father Flanagan

Movie Poster

Test Pilot

Gunner

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Big City

Joe Benton

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Captains Courageous

Manuel

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Mannequin

John L. Hennessey

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Libeled Lady

Warren Haggerty

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Fury

Joe Wilson

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Riffraff

Dutch Muller

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San Francisco

Father Mullin

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Whipsaw

Ross McBride

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Dante's Inferno

Jim Carter

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Marie Galante

Dr. Crawbett

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Doctor Bull

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Man's Castle

Bill

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20,000 Years in Sing Sing

Tommy Connors

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Me and My Gal

Danny Dolan

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Quick Millions

Daniel J. 'Bugs' Raymond

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Up The River

Saint Louis

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The Hard Guy

Guy

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