Biography of Katharine Hepburn, the famous American actress

Time passes, but cinema never stops celebrating, remembering its stars. Those that always shine in the firmament of the most glittering, regardless. In the Olympus of the great names that have made the history of a certain cinema, Katharine Hepburn cannot be missing . An institution of an old-fashioned cinema. A name that may say nothing to the youngest, but which, instead, you have said a lot. Her career enhances the myth. A career, among other things, that lasted 70 years.

In this post by CineMagazine for the Foreign Actors category, we retrace the life and works of this extraordinary American actress: welcome to the world of Katherine Hepburn!


  • The beginnings of Katharine Hepburn’s career
  • Katharine Hepburn’s climb to success begins
  • The period from the Second Post War onwards
  • Filmografia Katharine Hepburn
  • L’eredita by Katharine Hepburn

The beginnings of Katharine Hepburn’s career

Katharine Hepburn is a Hartford native American actress. Born May 12, 1907 . From a wealthy family background, Katharine Hepburn immediately stands out for a strong female commitment that leads her to be one of the most fanatical champions of those rights for which she still fights today . Before Rosa Parks, before women in Italy could even vote.

The trauma of her brother’s suicidal death marked her for an entire life, to the point of even affecting her future film career. A suffering that, often and willingly, he brought into her films.

Acting comes at an early age and focuses heavily on types of shows with feminist themes. Sensitive and always mature soul , this girl begins to make her way into the cinema with her aggressive character, but sweet and fragile at the same time.

Yet it seems that the road to success for her is not that clear after all. At the beginning things do not go well, to put it mildly, so much so that the first films do not collect the hoped-for consensus, considering the great talent available.

She feels little appreciated for her performances and in 1938 she was called ” poison for the box office “. Of the series, when the predictions are completely wrong. 

Katharine Hepburn’s climb to success begins

Katharine Hepburn gets her first official film award in 1932 , after she abruptly separated from her husband. ” Fever of living ” can be considered the first major film she shot, thanks to which she acquired the much-desired notoriety. Her collaboration with John Barrymore, an authentic icon of the 1930s, has a significant impact from this point of view.

The meeting with the director George Cukor within the same film represents the keystone to definitively take flight and will happen in the following years. ” The silver moth ” It is the second film in which she plays a woman with emancipated values ​​and prone to rebellion and autonomy, unconventional concepts for the time.

In the 1930s, Hepburn condenses within herself the values ​​of an anticipated modernity and a model of a woman who is not very accustomed to the traditional rules and customs imposed by a strongly male-dominated society.

In 1934 comes the Oscar as best actress for the interpretation in the film “The glory of the morning”. Another noteworthy film is “First Love”, as well as “Palcoscenico” with Gregory La Cava.

The 1940s are the watershed of her career, as the American actress returns to her first and only great love of a lifetime: theater.

In “Scandalo a Filadelfia” she tries her hand in the role of a woman heiress, always under the aegis of mentor George Cukor. In 1942, another meeting point of a career and a private life: the one with Spencer Tracy.

For 25 years Spencer and Katharine will be a steady couple both in front of the camera and in everyday life. An artistic and sentimental partnership, one of the most famous in American black and white cinema .

The harmony is felt on the set and allows the woman to acquire a centrality so hoped for in the cinematic news of those times.

Spencer Tracy con Katharine Hepburn

The period from the Second Post War onwards

Another role of independent and heroic woman , wife of the musician Robert Schumann, interpreted in the film “Love Song” of 1947. “The Queen of Africa of 1951” he shoots alongside Humphrey Bogart, another legend of world cinema.

The last film shot with his partner Spencer Tracy is from 1967 , “Guess who’s coming to dinner”. She earned her second career Oscar. A few weeks after this official recognition, the husband will die.

After her death, two more Academy Awards for Best Actress arrive for Katharine Hepburn, between “The Lion in Winter” and “On the Golden Lake”. She will appear in her last film ever as a star in 1994 in “Love affair – A great love”. From that moment on, she officially retires from the scene and falls into a delicate period of health.

The 70s were characterized by the incessant presence on television, where it continues its path in a preponderant way. In the course of the same, she earns the Emmy Award as Best Actress in the role of Laurence Olivier’s film “Love in the Ruins”.

In her 50-year career, Katharine Hepburn has amassed a total of 4 Academy Awards and 12 nominations . It would be enough just to mention these figures to show all the greatness of her, considering that no other actor or actress has succeeded in this undertaking.

The American actress died on June 29, 2003 at the age of 96 .

Undoubtedly one of those that left an indelible memory in the cinema on a global level. Example of great virtue, activism and the search for female independence that is still too neglected today. 

Filmografia Katharine Hepburn

Here are all the films by Katherine Hepburn, in chronological order of release:

  1. A Bill of Divorcement, by George Cukor (1932)
  2. The Silver Moth (Christopher Strong), by Dorothy Arzner (1933)
  3. Morning Glory, by Lowell Sherman (1933)
  4. Little Women, by George Cukor (1933)
  5. Spitfire, by John Cromwell (1934)
  6. Amore tzigano (The Little Minister), by Richard Wallace (1934)
  7. When You Love (Break of Hearts), by Philip Moeller (1935)
  8. First Love (Alice Adams), by George Stevens (1935)
  9. The Devil and Female (Sylvia Scarlett), by George Cukor (1935)
  10. Mary of Scotland, by John Ford (1936)
  11. A Woman Rebels, by Mark Sandrich (1936)
  12. Quality Street, by George Stevens (1937)
  13. Stage Door, by Gregory La Cava (1937)
  14. Susanna! (Bringing Up Baby), regia di Howard Hawks (1938)
  15. Enchantment (Holiday), by George Cukor (1938)
  16. Scandalo a Filadelfia (The Philadelphia Story), directed by George Cukor (1940)
  17. Woman of the Year by George Stevens (1942)
  18. Keeper of the Flame, by George Cukor (1942)
  19. Stage Door Canteen, directed by Frank Borzage (1943)
  20. Dragon Seed, by Harold Bucquet and Jack Conway (1944)
  21. Without Love, by Harold S. Bucquet (1945)
  22. Undercurrent, by Vincente Minnelli (1946)
  23. The Sea of ​​Grass, by Elia Kazan (1947)
  24. Song of Love, by Clarence Brown (1947)
  25. State of the Union, by Frank Capra (1948)
  26. The Adam’s Rib, by George Cukor (1949)
  27. La regina d’Africa (The African Queen), regia di John Huston (1951)
  28. He and She (Pat and Mike), directed by George Cukor (1952)
  29. Summertime, by David Lean (1955)
  30. The Rainmaker, by Anthony Mann (1956)
  31. The Iron Petticoat, by Ralph Thomas (1956)
  32. The Almost Private Secretary (Desk Set), directed by Walter Lang (1957)
  33. Suddenly Last Summer, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1959)
  34. A Long Day’s Journey into Night, by Sidney Lumet (1962)
  35. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), directed by Stanley Kramer (1967)
  36. The Lion in Winter, by Anthony Harvey (1968)
  37. The Madwoman of Chaillot, by Bryan Forbes and John Huston (1969)
  38. Le troiane (The Trojan Women), by Michael Cacoyannis (1971)
  39. A Delicate Balance, by Tony Richardson (1973)
  40. “El Grinta” (Rooster Cogburn) is back, directed by Stuart Millar (1975)
  41. Olly, Olly, Oxen Free, by Richard Colla (1978)
  42. On Golden Pond, by Mark Rydell (1981)
  43. The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley, directed by Anthony Harvey (1984)
  44. Love Affair – Un grande amore (Love Affair), directed by Glenn Gordon Caron (1994)

L’eredita by Katharine Hepburn

One of the greatest awards was given to her by the American Film Institute in 1999, giving her, perhaps, the most prestigious award ever: in fact, she ranked first among the greatest actresses of all time . A recognition that marks the immortality, the example inside and outside the set, of this great woman who knew how to match her notoriety with her rebellious spirit, who never abandoned her since she was a child.

A model to follow , to imitate, to dissect. A myth from which every actor should start to set himself a goal: to become like her or, even alone, to make a quarter of her cinematic journey.

We close with a sentence from the great director, screenwriter and producer Frank Russell Capra:

There are women and women, then there is Kate. There are actresses and actresses, then there’s Hepburn . “

And if he says so, surely you have to absolutely believe him.