Hepburn, Katharine

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Hepburn, Katharine Gender: F
Katharine Houghton Hepburn
born on 12 May 1907 at 17:47 (= 5:47 PM )
Place Hartford, Connecticut, 41n46, 72w41
Timezone EST h5w (is standard time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 21°02' s_mo.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 27°31 Asc.s_scocol.18.gif 07°57'

Katharine Hepburn


American actress whose first screen appearance was in "A Bill of Divorcement," with John Barrymore, in 1932. In the '30s her box-office appeal was dismal, however, she went on to become a superstar with 11 Oscar nominations and three Oscar wins. The three films which netted her Oscars were "Morning Glory," 1933, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, " 1967 and "The Lion in Winter," 1968.

A tomboy as a kid, Kate rode her bike, sailed, and hung by her toes from a trapeze 30 feet above the gravel drive. She could out swim, out dive and outrun anyone. She adored her brother Tom, the only one who could beat her. Wishing she were a boy, she shaved her head each summer from 9 to 13 and called herself Jimmy. With an unconventional, freethinking family, every topic was discussed at mealtimes, and social rebels of the day often attended dinners.

Kate's world turned black on 4/03/1921, when she was 13 and Tom, 15, when she found his body hanging, dead. He was a cheerful, healthy boy and there was no note; the conclusion was that it was a prank gone bad, an accident. Though the family drew close in their shared devastation, young Kate grew suspicious, even hostile, in her grief. For escape, she withdrew into the imaginary world she saw on the screen, spending afternoons in the movies.

In 1924 she enrolled in Bryn Mawr, finding no head for science, opting for an English major. She told classmates that she wanted to be an actress, in spite of their disbelief that the tall, bony red-headed class oddball would set sights on such an impossible goal. Four weeks before graduation, she tried out for a stage play and got the role. She delayed her announcement to the family until graduation day, meeting with her dad's fury and disapproval.

Kate, as she became known at Bryn Mawr, gradually emerged from the solitude in which she had immersed herself. In 1928 she was working as an understudy in a New York play and dating a rich, handsome beau, Ludlow Ogden Smith, when she decided to give up the theater for marriage. By the time the honeymoon was over, she said "What am I doing here?" and returned to New York and the theater. Luddy went along with whatever Kate wanted, until she went to Hollywood in 1932 for her first picture and started an affair the following year with agent Leland Hayward. This spelled the end of their marriage, though Kate and Luddy remained friends.

She met director John Ford the spring of 1932 when she was on Broadway in "The Warrior's Husband." She had made eight pictures by the time she first worked with Ford, on "Mary of Scotland," 1936. He was entranced with her, admiring her feistiness and irreverence. Ford, married with two kids, was a profoundly unhappy man and a heavy drinker. By the time the film was completed on 4/23/1936, he was in love with Kate. They went to New York together where she discussed the stage version of "Jane Eyre" and on to visit her family. Reports declare that they did not sleep together, as Ford wanted it all - a divorce and marriage to Hepburn. Ford's wife geared up for battle, holding the trump cards of Ford's Roman Catholic beliefs and his love of his kids. Hepburn's career was beginning its slide, and her lover, Hayward, gave a plum role and began an affair with another actress.

In January 1937, lonely, Kate dated Howard Hughes. With Ford vacillating, she sailed to Nassau with Hughes when "Jane Eyre" closed in Baltimore. When they returned in May, Ford had still done nothing, so she moved in with Hughes in Los Angeles' Hancock Park. He proposed marriage, but when he did not get along with her family, the subject was dropped.

In 1941, Hepburn requested Spencer Tracy for her new picture, "Woman of the Year." When they met, she said, "Mr. Tracy, I think you're a little short for me." "Don't worry," laughed director Mankiewicz. "He'll cut you down to size." From the first, Tracy was edgy with Hepburn, calling her "the woman." On the set, he glowered. His pattern was to have affairs with the actress on his current picture, then crawl back to his wife and deaf son, nursing his guilt and anger with alcohol. Shooting of "Woman of the Year" started on 8/28/1941 and the rumors started almost immediately that Tracy and Hepburn were having an affair. Ford joined the army and was gone from Hollywood for four years.

After the critical and box-office success of "Woman," MGM was eager to get Tracy and Hepburn into another film immediately. The studio was also hopeful that Hepburn and a good script would deter Tracy's heavy drinking, which had begun to interfere with his work. He often disappeared for weeks. By the time the two began "Keeper of the Flame," they were in their own world. Hepburn was fussing over Tracy incessantly, warm and worshipful, watching him in abject adoration. On his part, Tracy seemed to take her for granted and was often outright critical.

Hepburn lived in John Gilbert's old house on Tower Drive, where Tracy would visit her in the evenings. When he went on blind drunks, locking himself in his room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, she would curl up to sleep outside his door. She had failed to save her brother; she would not fail again. She built her life around Tracy, making herself available to him at the cost of other commitments or projects, throughout his blackest moods and most cruel humiliations.

Together, they made eight films, After "Adam's Rib," Hepburn began to divide her time between the New York Stage and films in Hollywood, where she would be with Tracy. She finally realized that whether she was there or not, Tracy would go on a bender whenever he chose. In 1951 she went on location to do "The African Queen," one of her greatest successes. On 2/21/1952, she and Tracy completed "Pat and Mike," their last film under the MGM contract. In March, while she was in New York, he started an affair with his co-star on the "Plymouth Adventure," Gene Tierney.

During the next four years, Tracy and Hepburn spent a total of no more than six months together. By 1956, alcohol and drugs had wreaked havoc with Tracy's career and MGM finally canceled his contract. Physically and mentally deteriorating, he was moved by Hepburn into a rented house on Trancas Beach in June 1963. On July 21, he began to have system failure and was rushed into ER. When he returned to his Hollywood cottage, Hepburn moved in to nurse him. On 3/13/1967, they showed up for the first day of rehearsals for "Guess Who's Coming for Dinner." No one knew whether Tracy would be able to last through the picture, or whether he would physically collapse. His temper was hair-trigger, and he had trouble remembering his lines.

At about 3:00 am on 6/10/1967, she was awakened by Tracy who was up. By the time she went to him, he crashed to the floor, dying of a heart attack. She did not attend his funeral. When she called Tracy's wife, Louise said, "I thought you were just a rumor." Her 26-year relationship eventually was that to the world, a rumor.

Alone over the following decades, she was a lady of sheer magic and rugged independence. She had enduring star power all of her life, the grande dame of American stage, screen and television. The three more Oscars that she won made her the most honored actress in Academy history. As she neared 90, she retired to the area of her childhood home near the sea.

Kate died on June 29, 2003 in her home in Old Saybrook, CT. She was 96. "I have no fear of death," she reportedly said at age 85. "Must be wonderful, like a long sleep. But let's face it: it's how you live that really counts."

Link to Wikipedia biography

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  • associate relationship with Stewart, James (born 20 May 1908). Notes: Co-stars in 1940 film "The Philadelphia Story"
  • spousal equivalent relationship with Tracy, Spencer (born 5 April 1900)
  • other kin relationship with Houghton, Katharine (born 10 March 1945). Notes: Hepburn is Houghton's aunt
  • role played of/by Blanchett, Cate (born 14 May 1969). Notes: Blanchett played Hepburn in "The Aviator"
  • role played of/by Mulgrew, Kate (born 29 April 1955). Notes: 2003-2005 one-woman play "Tea at Five"


  • Death of Sibling 3 April 1921 (Brother Tom hanged himself)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 1928 (Ludlow Ogden Smith)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1932 (Debut in "A Bill of Divorcement")
  • Work : Prize 1933 (Oscar for "Morning Glory")
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1933 ("Morning Glory")
  • Relationship : Begin significant relationship 1933 (Began affair with Leland Howard)
  • Social : End a program of study 23 April 1936 (Completed "Mary of Scotland")
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Begin significant relationship January 1937 (Began affair with Howard Hughes)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Meet a significant person 1941 (Met Spencer Tracy)
  • Relationship : Begin significant relationship 1941 (Started affair with Tracy)
  • Work : New Job 28 August 1941 (Started "Woman of the Year.")
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1951 (Movie "The African Queen")
  • Work : End Major Project 21 February 1952 (Finished "Pat and Mike")
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : New Job 13 March 1967 (Started "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.")
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Significant person 10 June 1967 (Tracy died of heart attack)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Prize 1968 (Oscar for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner")
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1968 ("The Lion in Winter")
  • Work : Prize 1969 (Oscar for "The Lion in Winter")
  • Work : Prize 1981 (Achieves fourth Oscar)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1987 (Book "The Making of the African Queen")
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1991 (Autobiography "Me")
  • Work : Prize 1991 (Kennedy Center Award)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1994 (Film with Warren Beatty, "Love Affair")
  • Health : Chronic illness 1998 (Health becomes more frail)
  • Death by Disease 29 June 2003 in Fenwick (Aggressive tumor in her neck)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Kraum quotes B.C. on file in Hartford AA, 3/1940. Howard Hammitt Jr. called LMR to report that he was the one who had looked up Hepburn's B.C. for Kraum (For years, her date was given out as 11/08/1907, an error that she perpetuated up to the time of her autobiography, "Me, Stories of My Life," Knopf, 1991, when she admitted that she had lied about her birthdate. The date of November 8 was the birthdate of her brother Tom, who had hanged himself from the rafters at 16. She was 14 and found him, a great trauma)

Biography: Christopher Andersen, "Young Kate," 1988. However, PT adds in May 2004: Sotheby's catalog shows some of the personal effects the auction house is selling in June 2004. Among the items is an announcement of her birth sent in a telegram from M. Hepbourn [sic] to F. L. Garlinghouse on May 12, 1907 (note the spelling of her name): "Catherine Houghton Hepbourn, second, came at seven elevin [sic] tonight, Eight half pounds, all well." PT notes that Garlinghouse was the maiden name of Kate’s maternal grandmother; we do not know who M. Hepbourn is; it’s unlikely to be her father since Kate in her autobiography,"Me," gives her father’s name as Thomas Norval Hepburn.


  • Traits : Body : Appearance gorgeous (Classic, timeless beauty)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Parkinson's (Debilitating in latter years)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Stroke (Survived)
  • Family : Childhood : Family close
  • Family : Childhood : Family extraordinarily supportive
  • Family : Childhood : Memories Good (Tomboy, close family)
  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (Second of six)
  • Family : Childhood : Sibling circumstances (Lost Tom when she was 13)
  • Family : Relationship : Cohabitation more than 3 yrs (26-year affair with Tracy)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage less than 3 Yrs (Ogden Smith, three years)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (One)
  • Family : Relationship : Stress - Extramarital affairs (With Spencer Tracy for over 20 years)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids none
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Misfit
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Actor/ Actress
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Live Stage
  • Notable : Awards : Emmy (Numerous)
  • Notable : Awards : Oscar (Three)
  • Notable : Awards : Vocational award (Kennedy Center award)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession
  • Notable : Book Collection : Profiles Of Women