Katharine Hepburn

Essay by teddie3College, UndergraduateA-, July 2004

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Katharine Houghton Hepburn was born on May 12, 1902 in Hartford, Connecticut. She was the second child born to Katharine and Thomas Hepburn. Kate, as she was called by her family members, had two sisters, Peg and Marion, and three brothers, Tom, Dick, and Bob. Both her parents always encouraged Katharine to speak her mind, develop it fully, and exercise her body to her full potential. She was an actress even as a child. When she was eight years old, she cast and presented a dramatization of Uncle Tom's Cabin with the neighborhood children. She was also very close to her brother, Tom, and was devastated at age fourteen to find him dead, from accidentally hanging himself while practicing a trick their father had taught them. Kate then become very shy around girls her age, and was schooled at home. She attended Bryn Mawr College, however, and it was here that she decided to become an actress.

She appeared in many of the schools productions. After graduating, she began getting small roles in plays on Broadway and elsewhere.

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Kate finally broke into stardom when she took the starring role of the Amazon princess Antiope in A Warriors Husband in 1932. Many film offers followed. After a few screen tests she was cast in Bill of Divorcement, opposite John Barrymore. The film was a hit, and after agreeing to her salary demands, RKO signed her to a contract.

She made five films between 1932 and 1934. For her third film, Morning Glory, she won her first Academy Award. Her fourth film, Little Women was the most successful picture of its day. But stories were beginning to leak out of her haughty behavior off-screen and her refusal to play the Hollywood game. Katharine always wore slacks and...