Katharine Houghton Hepburn, the Great Kate is one of the greatest movie stars of all time and was the leading lady in Hollywood for more than 60 years. Hepburn is known for her strong outspoken personality and fierce independence also portrayed roles of strong and independent women. She was by all means ahead of her time, being unconventional and at the same time spirited.
She was born on 12th May 1907 to Thomas Norval Hepburn, a urologist and Katharine Martha Houghton, a feminist campaigner, both parents who fought for social change in the US.
Hepburn credited the foundation for her success to ‘enormously lucky’ upbringing. She said how she realized from a young age that she was the product of “two remarkable parents”.
The actress passed away on June 29th 2003 at the age of 96. She is known to have requested no memorial service.
Her death received huge public attention and many tributes. Then US President George W. Bush said that Hepburn “will be remembered as one of the nation’s artistic treasure”.
Here are the 10 lesser known facts about the fierce lady and the glamorous actress Katharine Hepburn:
1. Hepburn was not an instinctive actor.
According to reports, she liked studying the text and character carefully beforehand and she made sure she knew them thoroughly. Then rehearsed as much as possible and filmed multiple takes of a scene.
She committed heavily to each role and insisted on learning any necessary skills
2. Hepburn did all her own stunts.
3. During the scene in Summertime (1955) in which her character falls into the canal, the water was contaminated which left Hepburn with a permanent eye infection.
4. She helped make trousers acceptable for women.
Hepburn pioneered wearing trousers during a time when it was a radical move for a woman.
5. Hepburn revealed her true birth date only in her 1991 autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life. Till then, she used her brother Tom’s birthday (November 8) as her own.
It was because Hepburn was very close to her brother but at the age of 14, she was devastated after finding him dead. Since then till 1991, she used her brother’s birthday as her own.
The incident also made the teenage Hepburn nervous, moody and suspicious of people and she even shied away from other children. Hence dropping out of Oxford school and began receiving private tutoring.
6. Katharine Hepburn was a direct descendant of England’s King John through one of his illegitimate children. She played King John’s mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter.
7. From a young age she was a fan of movies, thus went to see one every Saturday night. She would even put on plays and perform for neighbours with friends and siblings for 50 cents a ticket to raise money for the Navajo people
8. Hepburn graduated with a degree in history and philosophy from Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1928.
9. Back in the early 1930s, Hepburn walked around the studio in her underwear when the costume department stole her slacks from her dressing room. She refused to put anything else until the slacks were returned
10. She holds the Guinness World Record as the only movie star to win four Academy Awards.