One Of The Greatest Actresses
Katharine Hepburn

"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. She 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.

Hepburn's 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 Academy Awards (a still unbeaten record). 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 pin-up pictures, give autographs or grant interviews; and avoided mingling with her co-workers.

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