This Month in Film History – November 2, 1932: Stage Actress Katherine Hepburn Makes Film Debut

From the beginning, Katherine Hepburn was different from everyone else. Hepburn ‘s parents made sure of that. Born into an upper-class family, her parents were progressive in their upbringing of the child and provided her with the tools to thrive in a world where women had just gained the right to vote. It was this month – November 2, 1932 – Katherine Hepburn would make her film debut and set Hollywood on its ear forever after.

Katherine Hepburn was a particularly vexing problem for the studio heads in 1930s Hollywood. Up to that point in time, this being the 1930’s, there was no frame of reference to draw upon. Her look was rather androgynous. She wore pants and was very well educated. Wikipedia’s page on Hepburn reads like this –

“She was outspoken, assertive, athletic, and wore trousers before it was fashionable for women to do so. She was briefly married as a young woman, but thereafter lived independently. A 26-year affair with her co-star Spencer Tracy was hidden from the public. With her unconventional lifestyle and the independent characters she brought to the screen, Hepburn epitomized the “modern woman” in the 20th-century United States, and is remembered as an important cultural figure.”

And she did everything herself –

… labeled “box office poison” in 1938. Hepburn masterminded her own comeback, buying out her contract with RKO Radio Pictures and acquiring the film rights to The Philadelphia Story, which she sold on the condition that she be the star.

Her acting talent was undeniable, even if she didn’t have an in-your-face sexuality. She would. however, score four Best Actress Academy Awards. Those four wins would fly further in the face of traditional Hollywood logic.

The first would come in 1934 for the film Morning Glory. Katherine Hepburn would have a long wait for the sequel. It was 1968, an amazing 34 years later, Hepburn’s number would again come with the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. She would star opposite her longtime companion Spencer Tracy.