Katharine Hepburn - Rotten Tomatoes

Katharine Hepburn

Highest Rated:   100% Desk Set (1957)
Lowest Rated:   17% The Sea of Grass (1947)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Hartford, Connecticut, USA
"I'm a personality as well as an actress," Katharine Hepburn once declared. "Show me an actress who isn't a personality, and you'll show me a woman who isn't a star." Hepburn's bold, distinctive personality was apparent almost from birth. She inherited from her doctor father and suffragette mother her three most pronounced traits: an open and ever-expanding mind, a healthy body (maintained through constant rigorous exercise), and an inability to tell anything less than the truth. Hepburn was more a personality than an actress when she took the professional plunge after graduating from Bryn Mawr in 1928; her first stage parts were bits, but she always attracted attention with her distinct New England accent and her bony, sturdy frame. The actress' outspokenness lost her more jobs than she received, but, in 1932, she finally scored on Broadway with the starring role in The Warrior's Husband. She didn't want to sign the film contract offered her by RKO, so she made several "impossible" demands concerning salary and choice of scripts. The studios agreed to her terms, and, in 1932, she made her film debut opposite John Barrymore in A Bill of Divorcement (despite legends to the contrary, the stars got along quite well). Critical reaction to Hepburn's first film set the tone for the next decade: Some thought that she was the freshest and most original actress in Hollywood, while others were irritated by her mannerisms and "artificial" speech patterns. For her third film, Morning Glory (1933), Hepburn won the first of her four Oscars. But despite initial good response to her films, Hepburn lost a lot of popularity during her RKO stay because of her refusal to play the "Hollywood game." She dressed in unfashionable slacks and paraded about without makeup; refused to pose for pinup pictures, give autographs, or grant interviews; and avoided mingling with her co-workers. As stories of her arrogance and self-absorption leaked out, moviegoers responded by staying away from her films. The fact that Hepburn was a thoroughly dedicated professional -- letter-perfect in lines, completely prepared and researched in her roles, the first to arrive to the set each day and the last to leave each evening -- didn't matter in those days, when style superseded substance. Briefly returning to Broadway in 1933's The Lake, Hepburn received devastating reviews from the same critics who found her personality so bracing in The Warrior's Husband. The grosses on her RKO films diminished with each release -- understandably so, since many of them (Break of Hearts [1935], Mary of Scotland [1936]) were not very good. She reclaimed the support of RKO executives after appearing in the moneymaking Alice Adams (1935) -- only to lose it again by insisting upon starring in Sylvia Scarlett (1936), a curious exercise in sexual ambiguity that lost a fortune. Efforts to "humanize" the haughty Hepburn personality in Stage Door (1937) and the delightful Bringing Up Baby (1938) came too late; in 1938, she was deemed "box-office poison" by an influential exhibitor's publication. Hepburn's career might have ended then and there, but she hadn't been raised to be a quitter. She went back to Broadway in 1938 with a part written especially for her in Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story. Certain of a hit, she bought the film rights to the play; thus, when it ended up a success, she was able to negotiate her way back into Hollywood on her own terms, including her choice of director and co-stars. Produced by MGM in 1940, the film version was a box-office triumph, and Hepburn had beaten the "poison" label. In her next MGM film, Woman of the Year (1942), Hepburn co-starred with Spencer Tracy, a copacetic teaming that endured both professionally and personally until Tracy's death in 1967. After several years of off-and-on films, Hepburn scored another success with 1951's The African Queen, marking her switch from youngish sophisticates to midd

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Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
50% Rooster Cogburn
  • Eula Goodnight
1999
No Score Yet The Hidden Army: Women in World War II
  • Narrator
1999
No Score Yet The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet Katharine Hepburn: On Her Own Terms
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet Women of Substance: Katharine Hepburn
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet One Christmas
  • Cornelia Beaumont
1994
31% Love Affair
  • Ginny
1994
No Score Yet The Man Upstairs
  • Victoria Browne
1993
No Score Yet Fonda on Fonda
  • Actor
1992
No Score Yet Katharine Hepburn: All About Me
  • Actor
1992
No Score Yet Michael Jackson - The Legend Continues
  • Actor
1989
No Score Yet Laura Lansing Slept Here
  • Laura Lansing
1988
No Score Yet Bacall on Bogart
  • Actor
1988
No Score Yet Spencer Tracy Legacy
  • Host
1987
No Score Yet Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry
  • Margaret Delafield
1986
No Score Yet Grace Quigley (The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley)
  • Grace Quigley
1985
No Score Yet George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey
  • Herself
1984
No Score Yet Storytime Classics: Katharine Hepburn's World of Stories
  • Actor
1983
92% On Golden Pond
  • Ethel Thayer
1981
No Score Yet The Corn Is Green
  • Miss Moffat
1978
No Score Yet Olly Olly Oxen Free
  • Miss Pudd
1978
No Score Yet That's Entertainment, Part 2
  • Actor
1976
No Score Yet Love Among the Ruins
  • Jessica Mendicott
1975
No Score Yet The Glass Menagerie
  • Amanda Wingfield
1973
No Score Yet A Delicate Balance
  • Agnes
1973
No Score Yet The Trojan Women
  • Hecuba
1971
20% The Madwoman of Chaillot
  • Countess Aurelia
1969
91% The Lion in Winter
  • Eleanor Of Aquitaine
$18.7k 1968
68% Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  • Christina Drayton
1967
93% Long Day's Journey Into Night
  • Mary Tyrone
1962
69% Suddenly, Last Summer
  • Mrs. Violet Venable
1959
100% Desk Set
  • Bunny Watson
1957
No Score Yet The Iron Petticoat
  • Vinka Kovelenko
1957
No Score Yet The Rainmaker
  • Lizzie Curry
1956
93% Summertime
  • Jane Hudson
1955
90% Pat and Mike
  • Patricia "Pat" Pemberton
1952
No Score Yet Road to Bali
  • Rose Sayer
1952
100% The African Queen
  • Rose Sayer
1951
100% Adam's Rib
  • Amanda Bonner
1949
No Score Yet State of the Union
  • Mary Matthews
1948
No Score Yet Song of Love
  • Clara Wieck Schumann
1947
17% The Sea of Grass
  • Lutie Cameron Brewton
1947
No Score Yet Undercurrent
  • Ann Hamilton
1946
No Score Yet Without Love
  • Jamie Rowan
1945
No Score Yet Dragon Seed
  • Jade Tan
1944
No Score Yet Stage Door Canteen
  • Stage Door Canteen Star
1943
No Score Yet Keeper of the Flame
  • Mrs. Christine Forrest
1942
92% Woman of the Year
  • Tess Harding
1942
No Score Yet Women In Defense
  • Actor
1941
100% The Philadelphia Story
  • Tracy Lord
1940
100% Holiday
  • Linda Seton
1938
95% Bringing Up Baby
  • Susan Vance
1938
95% Stage Door
  • Terry Randall
1937
60% Quality Street
  • Phoebe Throssel
1937
No Score Yet A Woman Rebels
  • Pamela Thistlewaite
1936
No Score Yet Mary of Scotland
  • Mary Stuart
1936
88% Sylvia Scarlett
  • Sylvia Scarlett
1935
No Score Yet Break of Hearts
  • Constance Dane Roberti
1935
93% Alice Adams
  • Alice Adams
1935
No Score Yet The Little Minister
  • Barbara
1934
No Score Yet Spitfire
  • Trigger Hicks
1934
92% Little Women
  • Jo March
1933
67% Morning Glory
  • Eva Lovelace
1933
No Score Yet Christopher Strong
  • Lady Cynthia Darrington
1933
No Score Yet A Bill of Divorcement
  • Sydney Fairfield
1932

Quotes from Katharine Hepburn's Characters