Kate – as friends called her – cut her teeth in acting starting off the Theatre stages of New York. A Bill of Divorcement by George Cukor, who casted her against the advice of producer David O. Selznick, marked her grand entreé to Cinema, leading to a trail of successes (Little Women by George Cukor) and awards (Morning Glory by Lowell Sherman earned her the fisrt oscar)
Independent and outspoken, playing strong independent women with minds of their own, Hepburn epitomized the woman of the new era, becoming an icon of femminism all over the world. Proverbial was her refusal to play the "Hollywood Game", always wearing slacks (way before it became fashionable) and no makeup, never posing for pictures or giving interviews. her attitude towards the press and even fans was edgy, so much so that people started deserting her films. in 1938, she (along with Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and others) was voted "box office poison" in a poll taken by motion picture exhibitors. With a serie of flops Hepburn set sails back to Broadway to star in The Philadelphia Story (1938), and was rewarded with a smash. She quickly bought the film rights, and so was able to negotiate her way back to Hollywood on her own terms, including her choice of director and co-stars. The film version of The Philadelphia Story (1940) by George Cukor, was a box-office hit, and Hepburn, who won her third Oscar nomination for the film, was bankable again.
Katharine Hepburn died in 2003 at the age of 96, following after 38 years her life-long partner Spencer Tracy.
Hepburn figures in Martin Scorsese's 2004 biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator, she was portrayed by Cate Blanchett, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.
related links: New York Times article
The Philadelphia Story by George Cukor - starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart