Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn

Celebrity Profile

Name: Katharine Hepburn
Occupation: Actor
Gender: Female
Height: 171 cm (5' 8'')
Birth Day: May 12, 1907
Death Date: Jun 29, 2003 (age 96)
Age: Aged 96
Birth Place: Hartford, United States
Zodiac Sign: Taurus

Social Accounts

Height: 171 cm (5' 8'')
Weight: in kg - N/A
Eye Color: N/A
Hair Color: N/A
Blood Type N/A
Tattoo(s) N/A

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn was born on May 12, 1907 in Hartford, United States (96 years old). Katharine Hepburn is an Actor, zodiac sign: Taurus. Find out Katharine Hepburnnet worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.


She played leading roles in a number of Shakespeare plays in the 1950's and '60's, including The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and Antony and Cleopatra.

Does Katharine Hepburn Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Katharine Hepburn died on Jun 29, 2003 (age 96).

Net Worth

Net Worth 2020

$30 Million

Salary 2020

Not known

Katharine Hepburn Salary Detail

After the release of Bringing up Baby, the Independent Theatre Owners of America included Hepburn on a list of actors considered "box office poison". Her reputation at a low, the next film RKO offered her was Mother Carey's Chickens, a B movie with poor prospects. Hepburn turned it down, and instead opted to buy out her contract for $75,000. Many actors were afraid to leave the stability of the studio system at the time, but Hepburn's personal wealth meant she could afford to be independent. She signed on for the film version of Holiday (1938) with Columbia Pictures, pairing her for the third time with Grant, to play a stifled society girl who finds joy with her sister's fiancé. The comedy was positively reviewed, but it failed to draw much of an audience, and the next script offered to Hepburn came with a salary of $10,000—less than she had received at the start of her film career. Reflecting on this change in fortunes, Andrew Britton writes of Hepburn, "No other star has emerged with greater rapidity or with more ecstatic acclaim. No other star, either, has become so unpopular so quickly for so long a time."

Before Fame

She began acting in school plays at Bryn Mawr College and made her big screen debut in the 1932 film A Bill of Divorcement.

Biography Timeline


Hepburn was born on May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Connecticut, the second of six children. Her parents were Thomas Norval Hepburn (1879–1962), a urologist at Hartford Hospital, and Katharine Martha Houghton (1878–1951), a feminist campaigner. Both parents fought for social change in the US: Thomas Hepburn helped establish the New England Social Hygiene Association, which educated the public about venereal disease, while the elder Katharine headed the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association and later campaigned for birth control with Margaret Sanger. As a child, Hepburn joined her mother on several "Votes For Women" demonstrations. The Hepburn children were raised to exercise freedom of speech and encouraged to think and debate on any topic they wished. Her parents were criticized by the community for their progressive views, which stimulated Hepburn to fight against barriers she encountered. Hepburn said she realized from a young age that she was the product of "two very remarkable parents", and credited her "enormously lucky" upbringing with providing the foundation for her success. She remained close to her family throughout her life.


In March 1921, Hepburn, 13, and her 15-year-old brother Tom were visiting New York, staying with a friend of their mother's in Greenwich Village over the Easter break. On March 30, Hepburn discovered the body of her adored older brother dead from an apparent suicide. He had tied a curtain tie around a beam and hanged himself. The Hepburn family denied it was suicide and maintained that Tom's death must have been an experiment that had gone wrong. The incident made the teenage Hepburn nervous, moody, and suspicious of people. She shied away from other children, dropped out of Oxford School, and was tutored privately. For many years she used Tom's birthday (November 8) as her own. It was not until her 1991 autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, that Hepburn revealed her true birth date.


In 1924 Hepburn gained a place at Bryn Mawr College. She attended the institution primarily to satisfy her mother, who had studied there, but ultimately found the experience to be fulfilling. It was the first time she had been in school for several years, and she was self-conscious and uncomfortable with her classmates. She struggled with the scholastic demands of university, and once was suspended for smoking in her room. Hepburn was drawn to acting, but roles in college plays were conditional on good grades. Once her marks had improved, she began performing regularly. She performed the lead role in a production of The Woman in the Moon in her senior year, and the positive response it received cemented Hepburn's plans to pursue a theatrical career. She graduated with a degree in history and philosophy in June 1928.


Knopf decided to produce The Big Pond in New York, and appointed Hepburn the understudy to the leading lady. A week before opening, the lead was fired and replaced with Hepburn, which gave her a starring role only four weeks into her theatre career. On opening night, she turned up late, mixed her lines, tripped over her feet, and spoke too quickly to be understood. She was immediately fired, and the original leading lady rehired. Undeterred, Hepburn joined forces with the producer Arthur Hopkins and accepted the role of a schoolgirl in These Days. Her Broadway debut came on November 12, 1928, at the Cort Theatre, but reviews for the show were poor, and it closed after eight nights. Hopkins promptly hired Hepburn as the lead understudy in Philip Barry's play Holiday. In early December, after only two weeks, she quit to marry Ludlow Ogden Smith, a college acquaintance. She planned to leave the theatre behind, but began to miss the work and quickly resumed the understudy role in Holiday, which she held for six months.

Hepburn's only marriage was to Ludlow Ogden Smith, a socialite-businessman from Philadelphia whom she met while a student at Bryn Mawr. The couple wed on December 12, 1928, when she was 21 and he was 29. Smith changed his name to S. Ogden Ludlow at her behest so that she would not be "Kate Smith", which she considered too plain. She never fully committed to the marriage and prioritized her career. The move to Hollywood in 1932 cemented the couple's estrangement, and in 1934, she traveled to Mexico to get a quick divorce. Hepburn often expressed her gratitude toward Smith for his financial and moral support in the early days of her career, and in her autobiography called herself "a terrible pig" for exploiting his love. The pair remained friends until his death in 1979.


In 1929, Hepburn turned down a role with the Theatre Guild to play the lead in Death Takes a Holiday. She felt the role was perfect, but again, she was fired. She went back to the Guild and took an understudy role for minimum pay in A Month in the Country. In the spring of 1930, Hepburn joined a theatre company in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She left halfway through the summer season, and continued studying with a drama tutor. In early 1931, she was cast in the Broadway production of Art and Mrs. Bottle. She was released from the role after the playwright took a dislike to her, saying "She looks a fright, her manner is objectionable, and she has no talent", but Hepburn was re-hired when no other actress could be found. It went on to be a small success.


Hepburn arrived in California in July 1932, at 25 years old. She starred in A Bill of Divorcement opposite John Barrymore, but showed no sign of intimidation. Although she struggled to adapt to the nature of film acting, Hepburn was fascinated by the industry from the start. The picture was a success and Hepburn received positive reviews. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times called her performance "exceptionally fine ... Miss Hepburn's characterization is one of the finest seen on the screen". The Variety review declared, "Standout here is the smash impression made by Katharine Hepburn in her first picture assignment. She has a vital something that sets her apart from the picture galaxy." On the strength of A Bill of Divorcement, RKO signed her to a long-term contract. George Cukor became a lifetime friend and colleague—he and Hepburn made ten films together.


The Lake previewed in Washington, D.C., where there was a large advance sale. Harris' poor direction had eroded Hepburn's confidence, and she struggled with the performance. Despite this, Harris moved the play to New York without further rehearsal. It opened at the Martin Beck Theatre on December 26, 1933, and Hepburn was roundly panned by the critics. Dorothy Parker quipped, "She runs the gamut of emotions all the way from A to B." Already tied to a ten-week contract, she had to endure the embarrassment of rapidly declining box office sales. Harris decided to take the show to Chicago, saying to Hepburn, "My dear, the only interest I have in you is the money I can make out of you." Hepburn did not want to continue in a failing show, so she paid Harris $14,000, most of her life savings, to close the production instead. She later referred to Harris as "hands-down the most diabolical person I have ever met", and claimed this experience was important in teaching her to take responsibility for her career.


Soon after moving to California, Hepburn began a relationship with her agent, Leland Hayward, although they were both married. Hayward proposed to the actress after they had both divorced, but she declined, later explaining, "I liked the idea of being my own single self." The affair lasted four years. In 1936, while she was touring Jane Eyre, Hepburn began a relationship with entrepreneur Howard Hughes. She had been introduced to him a year earlier by their mutual friend Cary Grant. Hughes wished to marry her, and the tabloids reported their impending nuptials, but Hepburn stayed focused on resurrecting her failing career. They separated in 1938, when Hepburn left Hollywood after being labeled "box office poison".


Hepburn is the subject of a one-woman play, Tea at Five, written by Matthew Lombardo. The first act features Hepburn in 1938, after being labeled "box office poison", and the second act in 1983, where she reflects on her life and career. It premiered in 2002 at the Hartford Stage. Hepburn has been portrayed in Tea at Five by Kate Mulgrew, Tovah Feldshuh, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Charles Busch. A revised version of the play, eliminating the first act and expanding the second, premiered on June 28, 2019, at Boston's Huntington Theater with Faye Dunaway playing Hepburn. Feldshuh also appeared as Hepburn in The Amazing Howard Hughes, a 1977 television movie, while Mearle Ann Taylor later portrayed her in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980). In Martin Scorsese's 2004 biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator, Hepburn was portrayed by Cate Blanchett, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This marked the first instance where the portrayal of an Academy Award-winning actress itself won an Academy Award.


Following this decline in her career, Hepburn took action to create her own comeback vehicle. She left Hollywood to look for a stage project, and signed on to star in Philip Barry's new play, The Philadelphia Story. It was tailored to showcase the actress, with the character of socialite Tracy Lord incorporating a mixture of humor, aggression, nervousness, and vulnerability. Howard Hughes, Hepburn's partner at the time, sensed that the play could be her ticket back to Hollywood stardom and bought her the film rights before it even debuted on stage. The Philadelphia Story first toured the United States, to positive reviews, and then opened in New York at the Schubert Theatre on March 28, 1939. It was a big hit, critically and financially, running for 417 performances and then going on a second successful tour.


Hepburn was also responsible for the development of her next project, the romantic comedy Woman of the Year about a political columnist and a sports reporter whose relationship is threatened by her self-centered independence. The idea for the film was proposed to her by Garson Kanin in 1941, who recalled how Hepburn contributed to the script. She presented the finished product to MGM and demanded $250,000—half for her, half for the authors. Her terms accepted, Hepburn was also given the director and co-star of her choice, George Stevens and Spencer Tracy. On Hepburn and Tracy's first day on set together, she allegedly told Tracy "I'm afraid I'm too tall for you" to which Tracy replied "Don't worry Miss Hepburn, I'll soon cut you down to my size." It started a relationship on screen and off that lasted until Tracy's death in 1967 with them appearing in another eight films together. Released in 1942, Woman of the Year was another success. Critics praised the chemistry between the stars, and, says Higham, noted Hepburn's "increasing maturity and polish". The World-Telegram commended two "brilliant performances", and Hepburn received a fourth Academy Award nomination. During the course of the movie, Hepburn signed a star contract with MGM.

The most significant relationship of Hepburn's life was with Spencer Tracy, her co-star in nine films. In her autobiography, she wrote, "It was a unique feeling that I had for [Tracy]. I would have done anything for him." Lauren Bacall, a close friend, later wrote of how "blindingly" in love Hepburn was with the actor. The relationship has subsequently been publicized as one of Hollywood's legendary love affairs. Meeting in 1941, when she was 34 and he was 41, Tracy was initially wary of Hepburn, unimpressed by her dirty fingernails and suspecting that she was a lesbian, but Hepburn said she "knew right away that [she] found him irresistible". Tracy remained married throughout their relationship. Although he and his wife Louise had been living separate lives since the 1930s, there was never an official split and neither party pursued a divorce. Hepburn did not interfere, and never fought for marriage.


In 1942, Hepburn returned to Broadway to appear in another Philip Barry play, Without Love, which was also written with the actress in mind. Critics were unenthusiastic about the production, but with Hepburn's popularity at a high, it ran for 16 sold-out weeks. MGM was eager to reunite Tracy and Hepburn for a new picture, and settled on Keeper of the Flame (1942). A dark mystery with a propaganda message on the dangers of fascism, the film was seen by Hepburn as an opportunity to make a worthy political statement. It received poor notices, but was a financial success, confirming the popularity of the Tracy–Hepburn pairing.


Since Woman of the Year, Hepburn had committed to a romantic relationship with Tracy and dedicated herself to helping the star, who suffered from alcoholism and insomnia. Her career slowed as a result, and she worked less for the remainder of the decade than she had done in the 1930s—notably by not appearing on-stage again until 1950. Her only appearance in 1943 was a cameo in the morale-building wartime film Stage Door Canteen, playing herself. She took an atypical role in 1944, playing a Chinese peasant in the high-budget drama Dragon Seed. Hepburn was enthusiastic about the film, but it met with a tepid response and she was described as miscast. She then reunited with Tracy for the film version of Without Love (1945), after which she turned down a role in The Razor's Edge to support Tracy through his return to Broadway. Without Love received poor reviews, but a new Tracy–Hepburn picture was a big event and it was popular on release, selling a record number of tickets over Easter-weekend 1945.


Tracy and Hepburn appeared onscreen together for a third consecutive year in the 1949 film Adam's Rib. Like Woman of the Year, it was a "battle of the sexes" comedy and was written specifically for the duo by their friends Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. A story of married lawyers who oppose each other in court, Hepburn described it as "perfect for [Tracy] and me". Although her political views still prompted scattered picketing at theatres around the country, Adam's Rib was a hit, favorably reviewed and the most profitable Tracy–Hepburn picture to date. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was full of praise for the film and hailed the duo's "perfect compatibility".


The 1950s saw Hepburn take on a series of professional challenges, and stretch herself further than at any other point in her life at an age when most other actresses began to retreat. Berg describes the decade as "the heart of her vast legacy" and "the period in which she truly came into her own". In January 1950, Hepburn ventured into Shakespeare, playing Rosalind on stage in As You Like It. She hoped to prove that she could play already established material, and said, "It's better to try something difficult and flop than to play it safe all the time." It opened at the Cort Theatre in New York to a capacity audience, and was virtually sold out for 148 shows. The production then went on tour. Reviews for Hepburn varied, but she was noted as the only leading lady in Hollywood who was performing high-caliber material onstage.


In 1951, Hepburn filmed The African Queen, her first movie in Technicolor. She played Rose Sayer, a prim spinster missionary living in German East Africa at the outbreak of World War I. Co-starring Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen was shot mostly on location in the Belgian Congo, an opportunity Hepburn embraced. It proved a difficult experience, however, and Hepburn became ill with dysentery during filming. Later in life, she released a memoir about the experience. The movie was released at the end of 1951 to popular support and critical acclaim, and gave Hepburn her fifth Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards while garnering Bogart his only Academy Award for Best Actor. The first successful film she had made without Tracy since The Philadelphia Story a decade earlier, it proved that she could be a hit without him and fully reestablished her popularity.


In the summer of 1952, Hepburn appeared in London's West End for a ten-week run of George Bernard Shaw's The Millionairess. Her parents had read Shaw to her when she was a child, which made the play a special experience for the actress. Two years of intense work had left her exhausted, however, and her friend Constance Collier wrote that Hepburn was "on the verge of a nervous breakdown". Widely acclaimed, The Millionairess was brought to Broadway. In October 1952 it opened at the Shubert Theatre, where despite a lukewarm critical response it sold out its ten-week run. Hepburn subsequently tried to get the play adapted into a film: a script was written by Preston Sturges, and she offered to work for nothing and pay the director herself, but no studio picked up the project. She later referred to this as the biggest disappointment of her career.


Tracy's health declined in the 1960s, and Hepburn took a five-year break in her career to care for him. She moved into Tracy's house for this period, and was with him when he died on June 10, 1967. Out of consideration for Tracy's family, she did not attend his funeral. It was only after Louise Tracy's death, in 1983, that Hepburn began to speak publicly about her feelings for her frequent co-star. In response to the question of why she stayed with Tracy for so long, despite the nature of their relationship, she said, "I honestly don't know. I can only say that I could never have left him." She claimed to not know how he felt about her, and that they "just passed twenty-seven years together in what was to me absolute bliss".


From December 1969 to August 1970, Hepburn starred in the Broadway musical Coco, about the life of Coco Chanel. She admitted that before the show, she had never sat through a theatrical musical. She was not a strong singer, but found the offer irresistible and, as Berg puts it, "what she lacked in euphony she made up for in guts". The actress took vocal lessons six times a week in preparation for the show. She was nervous about every performance, and recalled "wondering what the hell I was doing there". Reviews for the production were mediocre, but Hepburn herself was praised, and Coco was popular with the public—with its run twice extended. She later said Coco marked the first time she accepted that the public was not against her, but actually seemed to love her. Her work earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.


Hepburn stayed active throughout the 1970s, focusing on roles described by Andrew Britton as "either a devouring mother or a batty old lady living [alone]". First she traveled to Spain to film a version of Euripides' The Trojan Women (1971) alongside Vanessa Redgrave. When asked why she had taken the role, she responded that she wanted to broaden her range and try everything while she still had time. The movie was poorly received, but the Kansas City Film Critics Circle named Hepburn's performance the best from an actress that year. In 1971, she signed on to star in an adaptation of Graham Greene's Travels with My Aunt, but was unhappy with early versions of the script and took to rewriting it herself. The studio disliked her changes; so, Hepburn abandoned the project and was replaced with Maggie Smith. Her next film, an adaptation of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (1973) directed by Tony Richardson, had a small release and received generally unfavorable reviews.


In 1973, Hepburn ventured into television for the first time, starring in a production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. She had been wary of the medium, but it proved to be one of the main television events of the year, scoring high in the Nielsen ratings. Hepburn received an Emmy Award nomination for playing wistful Southern mother Amanda Wingfield, which opened her mind to future work on the small screen. Her next project was the television movie Love Among the Ruins (1975), a London-based Edwardian drama with her friend Laurence Olivier. It received positive reviews and high ratings, and earned Hepburn her only Emmy Award.

Hepburn was known for being fiercely private, and would not give interviews or talk to fans for much of her career. She distanced herself from the celebrity lifestyle, uninterested in a social scene she saw as tedious and superficial, and she wore casual clothes that went strongly against convention in an era of glamour. She rarely appeared in public, even avoiding restaurants, and once wrestled a camera out of a photographer's hand when he took a picture without asking. Despite her zeal for privacy, she enjoyed her fame, and later confessed that she would not have liked the press to ignore her completely. The protective attitude toward her private life thawed as she aged; beginning with a two-hour-long interview on The Dick Cavett Show in 1973, Hepburn became more open with the public.


Hepburn made her only appearance at the Academy Awards in 1974, to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to Lawrence Weingarten. She received a standing ovation, and joked with the audience, "I'm very happy I didn't hear anyone call out, 'It's about time'." The following year, she was paired with John Wayne in the western Rooster Cogburn, a sequel to his Oscar-winning film True Grit. Echoing her African Queen character, Hepburn again played a deeply religious spinster who teams up with a masculine loner to avenge a family member's death. The movie received mediocre reviews. Its casting was enough to draw some people to the box office, but it did not meet studio expectations and was only moderately successful.


In 1976, Hepburn returned to Broadway for a three-month run of Enid Bagnold's play A Matter of Gravity. The role of eccentric Mrs. Basil was deemed a perfect showcase for the actress, and the play was popular despite poor reviews. It later went on a successful nationwide tour. During its Los Angeles run, Hepburn fractured her hip, but she chose to continue the tour performing in a wheelchair. That year, she was voted "Favorite Motion Picture Actress" by the People's Choice Awards. After three years away from the screen, Hepburn starred in the 1978 film Olly Olly Oxen Free. The adventure comedy was one of the biggest failures of her career—the screenwriter James Prideaux, who worked with Hepburn, later wrote that it "died at the moment of release" and referred to it as her "lost film". Hepburn claimed the main reason she had done it was the opportunity to ride in a hot-air balloon. The television movie The Corn Is Green (1979), which was filmed in Wales, followed. It was the last of ten films Hepburn made with George Cukor, and gained her a third Emmy nomination.


Hepburn won four Academy Awards, the record number for a performer, and received a total of 12 Oscar nominations for Best Actress—a number surpassed only by Meryl Streep. Hepburn also holds the record for the longest time span between first and last Oscar nominations, at 48 years. She received two awards and five nominations from the British Academy Film Awards, one award and six nominations from the Emmy Awards, eight Golden Globe nominations, two Tony Award nominations, and awards from the Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the People's Choice Awards, and others. Hepburn was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1979. She also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1979 and received the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognize a lifetime of accomplishments in the arts, in 1990.


Hepburn also returned to the stage in 1981. She received a second Tony nomination for her portrayal in The West Side Waltz of a septuagenarian widow with a zest for life. Variety observed that the role was "an obvious and entirely acceptable version of [Hepburn's] own public image". Walter Kerr of The New York Times wrote of Hepburn and her performance, "One mysterious thing she has learned to do is breathe unchallengeable life into lifeless lines." She hoped to make a film out of the production, but nobody purchased the rights. Hepburn's reputation as one of America's best loved actors was firmly established by this point, as she was named favorite movie actress in a survey by People magazine and again won the popularity award from People's Choice.


In 1984, Hepburn starred in the dark-comedy Grace Quigley, the story of an elderly woman who enlists a hitman (Nick Nolte) to kill her. Hepburn found humor in the morbid theme, but reviews were negative and the box-office was poor. In 1985, she presented a television documentary about the life and career of Spencer Tracy. The majority of Hepburn's roles from this point were in television movies, which did not receive the critical praise of her earlier work in the medium, but remained popular with audiences. With each release, Hepburn would declare it her final screen appearance, but she continued to take on new roles. She received an Emmy nomination for 1986's Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry, then two years later returned for the comedy Laura Lansing Slept Here, which allowed her to act with her grandniece, Schuyler Grant.


Hepburn's legacy extends to fashion, where she pioneered wearing trousers at a time when it was a radical move for a woman. She helped make trousers acceptable for women, and fans began to imitate her clothing. In 1986 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in recognition of her influence on women's fashion. A number of Hepburn's films have become classics of American cinema, with four of her pictures (The African Queen, The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner) featured on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest American Films of all time. Adam's Rib and Woman of the Year were included in the AFI's list of the Greatest American Comedies. Her clipped, patrician voice is considered one of the most distinctive in film history. [Sample, from Stage Door (1937) (help·info)]


In 1991, Hepburn released her autobiography, Me: Stories of my Life, which topped best-seller lists for over a year. She returned to television screens in 1992 for The Man Upstairs, co-starring Ryan O'Neal, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. In 1994 she worked opposite Anthony Quinn in This Can't Be Love, which was largely based on Hepburn's own life, with numerous references to her personality and career. These later roles have been described as "a fictional version of the typically feisty Kate Hepburn character" and critics have remarked that Hepburn was essentially playing herself.

Hepburn is one of the most celebrated American actresses, but she has also been criticized for a lack of versatility. Her on-screen persona closely matched her own real personality, something Hepburn admitted herself. In 1991 she told a journalist, "I think I'm always the same. I had a very definite personality, and I liked material that showed that personality." Playwright and author David Macaray has said, "Picture Katharine Hepburn in every movie she ever starred in, and ask yourself if she's not playing, essentially, the same part over and over ... Icon or no icon, let's not confuse a truly fascinating and unique woman with a superior actress." Another repeated criticism is that her demeanor was too cold.


The actress led an active life, reportedly swimming and playing tennis every morning. In her eighties she was still playing tennis regularly, as indicated in her 1993 documentary All About Me. She also enjoyed painting, which became a passion later in life. When questioned about politics, Hepburn told an interviewer, "I always just say be on the affirmative and liberal side. Don't be a 'no' person." The anti-Communist attitude in 1940s Hollywood prompted her to political activity, as she joined the Committee for the First Amendment. Her name was mentioned at the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee, but Hepburn denied being a Communist sympathizer. Later in life, she openly promoted birth control and supported the legal right to abortion. She described herself as a "dedicated Democrat". She practiced Albert Schweitzer's theory of "Reverence for Life", but did not believe in religion or the afterlife. In 1991, Hepburn told a journalist, "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know, except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people." Her public declarations of these beliefs led the American Humanist Association to award her the Humanist Arts Award in 1985.

Hepburn stated in her eighties, "I have no fear of death. Must be wonderful, like a long sleep." Her health began to deteriorate not long after her final screen appearance, and she was hospitalized in March 1993 for exhaustion. In the winter of 1996, she was hospitalized with pneumonia. By 1997, she had become very weak and was speaking and eating very little, and it was feared she would die. She showed signs of dementia in her final years. In May 2003, an aggressive tumor was found in Hepburn's neck. The decision was made not to medically intervene, and she died from cardiac arrest on June 29, 2003, a month after her 96th birthday at the Hepburn family home in Fenwick, Connecticut. She was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford. Hepburn requested that there be no memorial service.


Hepburn has been honored with several memorials. The Turtle Bay community in New York City, where she maintained a residence for over 60 years, dedicated a garden in her name in 1997. After Hepburn's death in 2003, the intersection of East 49th Street and 2nd Avenue was renamed "Katharine Hepburn Place". Three years later Bryn Mawr College, Hepburn's alma mater, launched the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center. It is dedicated to both the actress and her mother, and encourages women to address important issues affecting their gender. The center awards the annual Katharine Hepburn Medal, which "recognizes women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress" and whose award recipients "are chosen on the basis of their commitment and contributions to the Hepburn women's greatest passions—civic engagement and the arts". The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center was opened in 2009 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, the location of the Hepburn family beach home, which she loved and later owned. The building includes a performance space and a Katharine Hepburn museum.


Hepburn is considered an important and influential cultural figure. Ros Horton and Sally Simmons included her in their book Women Who Changed The World, which honors 50 women who helped shape world history and culture. She is also named in Encyclopædia Britannica's list of "300 Women Who Changed the World", Ladies Home Journal's book 100 Most Important Women of the 20th century, Variety magazine's "100 Icons of the Century", and she is number 84 on VH1's list of the "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons of All Time". In 1999, the American Film Institute named Hepburn the "greatest American screen legend" among females.


Hepburn's death received considerable public attention. Many tributes were held on television, and newspapers and magazines dedicated issues to the actress. American president George W. Bush said Hepburn "will be remembered as one of the nation's artistic treasures". In honor of her extensive theatre work, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for the evening of July 1, 2003. In 2004, in accordance with Hepburn's wishes, her belongings were put up for auction with Sotheby's in New York City. The event garnered $5.8 million, which Hepburn willed to her family.


Hepburn stuck to her decision not to remarry, and made a conscious choice not to have children. She believed that motherhood requires a full-time commitment, and said it was not one she was willing to make. "I would have been a terrible mother", she told Berg, "because I'm basically a very selfish human being." She felt she had partially experienced parenthood through her much younger siblings, which fulfilled any need to have children of her own. Rumors have existed since the 1930s that Hepburn was a lesbian or bisexual, which she often joked about. In 2007, William J. Mann released a biography of the actress in which he argued this was the case. In response to this speculation about her aunt, Katharine Houghton said, "I've never discovered any evidence whatsoever that she was a lesbian." However, in a 2017 documentary, columnist Liz Smith, who was a close friend, attested that she was.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library and the New York Public Library hold collections of Hepburn's personal papers. Selections from the New York collection, which documents Hepburn's theatrical career, were presented in a five-month exhibition, Katharine Hepburn: In Her Own Files, in 2009. Other exhibitions have been held to showcase Hepburn's career. One Life: Kate, A Centennial Celebration was held at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington from November 2007 to September 2008. Kent State University exhibited a selection of her film and theatre costumes from October 2010 to September 2011 in Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen. Hepburn has also been honored with her own postal stamp as part of the "Legends of Hollywood" stamp series. In 2015, the British Film Institute held a two-month retrospective of Hepburn's work.

Family Life

Katharine married Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928 and the couple divorced in 1934. Katharine also had relationships with actor Spencer Tracy and entrepreneur and filmmaker Howard Hughes.

Family Members

# Name Relationship Net Worth Salary Age Occupation
#1 Richard Hepburn Brother N/A N/A N/A
#2 Robert Hepburn Brother N/A N/A N/A
#3 Tom Hepburn Brother N/A N/A N/A
#4 Thomas Hepburn Father N/A N/A N/A
#5 Ludlow Ogden Smith Former spouse N/A N/A N/A
#6 Alfred Augustus Houghton Grandfather N/A N/A N/A
#7 Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn Mother N/A N/A N/A
#8 Katharine Houghton Katharine Houghton Niece $1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.) N/A 75 Actor
#9 Spencer Tracy Spencer Tracy Partner $50 Million N/A 67 Actor
#10 Margaret Hepburn Sister N/A N/A N/A
#11 Marion Grant Sister N/A N/A N/A
#12 Alexander Hepburn N/A N/A N/A
#13 Leman Benton Garlinghouse N/A N/A N/A

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Katharine Hepburn is 115 years, 10 months and 8 days old. Katharine Hepburn will celebrate 116th birthday on a Friday 12th of May 2023. Below we countdown to Katharine Hepburn upcoming birthday.


Recent Birthday Highlights

108th birthday - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy 108th Birthday Katharine Hepburn

Today is Katharine Hepburn’s 108th birthday.  I was in New York City the Christmas before last, alone and not really sure how I should spend the day.  I walked the entire Highline down the We…

106th birthday - Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remembering Katharine Hepburn

  By Lara Gabrielle Fowler Today, May 12, would have been the 106th birthday of the great Katharine Hepburn. I often struggle trying to describe Katharine Hepburn, as mere adjectives don't seem to suffice, and empty superlatives would have bored her. To say she was a woman ahead of her time would be stating the…

105th birthday - Saturday, May 12, 2012

Neighbors Celebrate Katharine Hepburn's 105th

New Yorkers celebrate Katharine Hepburn in a beloved green hideaway at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

Katharine Hepburn 105th birthday timeline

Katharine Hepburn trends


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