Throughout her 62-year film career, Katharine Hepburn portrayed a number of comedic and dramatic characters that were sometimes funny, often independent and never boring. Hepburn – best known for her apologetic attitude and inclination to wear pants whenever possible – was just as captivating off-screen as she was. Read on to discover fascinating details about the star of The Philadelphia Story and more.
1. Katharine Hepburn was a tomboy at a young age.
Aside from her acting career, Katharine Houghton Hepburn was also famous for her commitment to wearing pants at a time when the rest of Hollywood's female starlets practically never strayed from skirts and dresses. The Council of Fashion Designers of America even honored her with a lifetime achievement award in 1
Hepburn, whose mother was a suffragette and early advocate of birth control, became self-confident, independent, and individualistic, and her aversion to enforced femininity began at a young age. For a memorable childhood childhood in Connecticut, she wore a short haircut and started with "Jimmy". "I thought being a girl was really the bunk," Hepburn later said in an interview. "But Jimmy doesn't have a bunk."
Although she stuck to her birth name afterwards, she never warmed to the idea of long, flowing clothes. "I realized a long time ago that skirts are hopeless," said Hepburn in 1993. "Whenever I hear a man say he prefers a woman in a skirt, I say," Try one. Try a skirt. "
2. Katharine Hepburn found her brother dead when she was 13 years old.
Although Hepburn's upbringing was privileged in some ways, it was not without tragedy. In 1921, when she was 13, she found her 15-year-old brother Tom hanging on the rafters after he had strangled himself to death. Her family claimed it was the result of a failed magic trick since Tom had tried a replicated stunt at least once, but which cast a dark shadow over the rest of Hepburn's childhood and contributed to an already established legacy of suicide in the family: two uncles , a great uncle and her grandfather all ended their own lives.
3. Katharine Hepburn bought up her contract for The Lake instead of ending the run.
Hepburn made her Broadway debut in the 1930s Art and Mrs. Bottle and was on stage again in 1932 The Warrior's Husband . Her third play, 1993 The Lake received miserable reviews, including Dorothy Parker's alleged observation that Hepburn "went through the range of emotions from A to B". Shortly afterwards, 26-year-old Hepburn was so miserable – and treated so badly by director Jed Harris – that she bought her contract and simply left.
4. The Lake was the original source of one of Hepburn's most memorable lines.
One line from the unfortunate piece, however, Hepburn followed from this stage door into another. In the Stage Door from 1937 Hepburn portrayed an aspiring actress who competes with other tenants in boarding school for parts of a piece, and director Gregory La Cava gave her the line "The Calla Lilies are blooming again", which he had borrowed from The Lake . The line, which featured several times in Hepburn's Mid-Atlantic Drawl trademark throughout the film, became one of its most well-known and has been mentioned in various programs over the years, including in a series of I Love Lucy and 1988 comedy Big Top Pee-Wee .
5. Katharine Hepburn once threw a cup of water at co-star Ginger Rogers.
On the set of Stage Door Ginger Rogers put on a new mink coat when Hepburn showed up and poured her cup of water on it and said if the coat was actually a real mink it wouldn't shrink. The media speculated that the behavior was caused by jealousy of Rogers, as Hepburn's boyfriend Howard Hughes had reportedly shown interest in her, but Rogers himself would not play into the rumors. "Don't ask me, I have no idea why [she did it]," Rogers said later in an interview.
6. For a while, Katharine Hepburn was considered a "box office poison".
Hepburn made her film debut in 1932 A Bill of Divorcement with an Oscar-winning performance in 1933 Morning Glory . and another acclaimed appearance in Little Women in the same year. But she also had enough commercial flops – including Spitfire (1934), Mary of Scotland (1936) and the now popular screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938 ) – In the mid to late 1930s, she landed on a list of actors in 1938 that the Independent Theater Owners Association in New York called "box office poison".
Hepburn was bold. "Look, they say I've been a," she told the Daily News with a giggle, "but Bringing Up Baby has already grossed $ 2 million while Stage Door grossed more than $ 2,500,000. If I didn't laugh so hard I could cry, but why should I? "
7. The Philadelphia Story was a turning point in her career.
As it turned out, Hepburn was right not to deal with the toxic criticism. In 1938 she took a leading role – which the playwright Philip Barry actually wrote for her – in the Broadway comedy The Philadelphia Story and Howard Hughes bought her the rights so that she could repeat her role in a film adaptation. The 1940 MGM-produced film, starring Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, was a box-office hit and brought Hepburn back on its feet.
8. Katharine Hepburn had a decade-long affair with Spencer Tracy.
Hepburn married Ludlow Ogden Smith, a businessman from Philadelphia shortly after graduating from Bryn Mawr in 1928, but divorced after 6 years. Much more significant was her affair with her fellow actor Spencer Tracy, with whom she lived for 27 years (although Tracy, who was Catholic, never divorced his wife). Throughout their relationship, Hepburn and Tracy starred in nine films, including 1942 Woman of the Year 1949 Adam & # 39; s Rib and 1952 Pat and Mike . . They packed the production of their last, 1967 Guess Who & # 39; s Coming to Dinner just weeks before Tracy died of a heart attack at the age of 67.
9. Whiskey was Katharine Hepburn's drink of choice.
Although Hepburn did not drink much during her years with Tracy (who was an alcoholic), she was known to indulge in a glass of whiskey later in life, which helped the tremors she had inherited from her grandfather. "I discovered that whiskey helps stop shaking," she said in the 1993 document All About Me . "The problem is, if you're not careful, it will stop the rest of you."
But based on what she said to her colleague Brian Blessed while filming The Trojan Women from 1971 it seems like she really loved whiskey aside from all the side effects. "When I smell whiskey, I'm totally crazy. Whiskey is beautiful. I smell whiskey in a glass and I want it, ”she said according to Blessed's autobiography. "I would drink whiskey in the morning, at noon and in the evening until he killed me."
10. KathArine Hepburn's Brownie recipe dissolved a marriage.
Hepburn may have resisted certain social restrictions for women, but that didn't mean she didn't mind spending time in the kitchen. She was particularly interested in brownies, which she believed should be moist. After the New York Times published her signature recipe online in 2015, a woman named Sydne Newberry in the comment section revealed that Hepburn's deliciously fudgy dessert had accidentally ended her marriage. As Newberry The Cut said, she had taken the Brownies on a trip to visit her husband while he was stationed at an air force base in Germany in the 1980s. While she was there, she shared the dessert with his friend and his friend's wife, "a beautiful Italian who was very proud of her kitchen and was a real food snob."
Her new baking buddy loved the brownies, and they both kept correspondence for the next few years as the woman tried to get the recipe right. After repeated mistakes, it implied that Newberry had intentionally left something out. During a visit to Newberry in the United States, the woman began an affair with Newbery's husband, who eventually left his wife for her, apparently unperturbed by her lack of success on the Brownie front. "If you want to steal someone's husband," Newberry said to NPR, "you should screw up a brownie recipe."
11. Katharine Hepburn held the record for most Oscar nominations … until Meryl Streep came.
With her nomination for Best Actress for On Golden Pond Hepburn set a new record in 1981 for most nominations ever by an actor: 12. The record remained unchallenged until 2002 when Meryl Streep hers 13th place for a supporting role in Adaptation (since then, Streep's nomination has risen to an astonishing 21). In terms of actual victories, however, Hepburn has the edge: Streep has three, Hepburn four.