Katharine Houghton Hepburn was born in Connecticut on May 12 th 1907. The daughter of a doctor and a suffragette, she was always encouraged to develop both mind and body, and speak up for herself. Her brother, to whom she was very close, was found hanged at the age of fourteen.
Katharine later became so shy, that she had to be pulled out of school and tutored at home. She then went on to attend college, and this is where she developed her interest in acting. After her graduation, she succeeded in getting small Broadway parts, and was finally offered a starring role in the 1932 movie, ‘A Warrior’s Husband’. She was then signed up to a contract with RKO and went on to make a string of successful movies such as ‘Morning Glory’, and ‘Little Women’.
However, Katharine was a very independent woman, as her parents had taught her to be. She refused to be constantly glamorous off-screen as other actresses were, and she preferred to wear no make-up and casual clothes. She also refused to give interviews and photos, which seemed to shock the public in those days. As a result of this, both the public and the studios deserted her, and she went back to the stage for a while.
She did go on to make a number of movies in the late 1930s, which included ‘Bringing Up Baby’ and ‘Quality Street’. She also starred in ‘The Philadelphia Story’ on Broadway in 1938, and this put her back on the road to stardom. Although she had been branded ‘box-office poison’ by the Hollywood studios after her late 1930s movies flopped, the success of this stage production led to the re-invention of her career. She starred in the movie version of ‘The Philadelphia Story’ and this won her an Oscar.Throughout the 1950s and 1960s she continued to make smash hit movies and win Oscars. The 1970s and 1980s saw her move into television movies, and she finally retired in the 1990s. She died from old-age on 29 th June 2003, aged 96.
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