Show me an actress who isn't a personality, and you'll show me a woman who isn't a star
Only one person has ever won four Oscars for acting: Katharine Hepburn.
An independent-minded, respected, and fiercely intelligent actor, amongst her most famous films were Bringing Up Baby, The African Queen, The Philadelphia Story and The Lion in Winter.
Born to a privileged New England family, Hepburn was encouraged by her family to push herself to her limits. As a girl she cut her hair short, wore boy’s clothes, would wild swim in Long Island Sound and grew up to assert her individuality and independence. Acting and staging plays from a young age, her love for theatre continued as she went through college. After graduating, she took to the professional stage, before being spotted by a Hollywood scout and making her first film at the age of 25.
Strong-willed Katharine refused to acquiesce when called upon to be more ‘feminine.’ She revolutionised women’s fashion by donning trousers in 1933 – refusing to be cowed by the storm of controversy this caused in conservative times.
Off-screen, Katharine was notoriously private. She’d had a short-lived marriage before her fame, but the long-standing relationship with the love of her life – and frequent (married) co-star – Spencer Tracy, lasted nearly thirty years. Their last movie together was Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
Pragmatic and in control of her own destiny until the end, in her eighties the actress said that she had no fear of death and that it must be like a long sleep. She died at her family home in Connecticut aged 96 and, according to her wishes, no memorial service was held, although people around the world from paid tribute and the lights on Broadway were dimmed.