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May 12

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn was a non-conformist—someone who shirks rules and traditions. She loved to wear men’s suits, for example. And she often bluntly criticized other actors.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

1907: Kate the Great
Katharine Hepburn is born in Hartford, Connecticut
For the woman who carried home the Oscar® for Best Actress more times than any other, four times out of 12 nominations, Katharine Hepburn’s first forays into acting weren’t always successful.

She began acting in college plays from which she was fired more than once for stumbling over her lines. But her athleticism, beauty, and emerging talent got her noticed, and she soon began landing small roles. Big parts in Little Women, Bringing Up Baby, Woman of the Year, and other critical and commercial hits raised Hepburn to the level of Hollywood royalty, even as she shunned Hollywood’s glitz.

When she died at 96 years of age, the lights on Broadway went dim for an hour in honor of the woman many now deem one of the greatest actors of all time.

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