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Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy

Katharine Hepburn (1907–2003) and Spencer Tracy (1900–1967) were a legendary cinematic couple, both on- and off-screen. Hepburn and Tracy starred in nine films together, and had an affair—an open secret in Hollywood—that lasted 26 years, ending only with Tracy's death.

Allegedly when they first met, Hepburn said, "I fear I may be too tall for you, Mr. Tracy" or possibly "You know, Mr. Tracy, I'm afraid I'm a bit too tall for you." In one version, Tracy supposedly replied, "Don't worry, I'll cut you down to my size." In another, Joseph L. Mankiewicz reportedly said, "Don't worry, Kate, he'll cut you down to size."

They were initially cool to each other on their first production together, Woman of the Year, but that quickly dissipated, and within a week, they were calling each other Spence and Kate. Hepburn fell in love with Tracy. A common myth is that as a Catholic, he would not divorce his wife. Under California law in effect at the time, however, his wife, Louise, may have had grounds, but he did not. California did not adopt no fault divorce until January 1, 1970, after his death. (After Louise Tracy's death in 1983, Hepburn finally acknowledged their decades-long affair.) The normally fiercely independent Hepburn accommodated herself to Tracy, including seeing him through his periodic alcoholic relapses.

Tracy died shortly after completing their last film together, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

  • Tracy and Hepburn: an intimate memoir, by Garson Kanin
  • An Affair to Remember: The Remarkable Love Story of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy , by Christopher Andersen

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy by Wikipedia (Historical)