Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s 27-year love affair is considered one of the greatest in Hollywood history.
The two iconic actors co-starred in 9 films, yet their love story was not a love-at-first-sight scenario.
When they first met, Hepburn was 34 years old and Tracy was 41. Hepburn joked about her height, “I fear I may be too tall for you, Mr. Tracy,” to which someone on set replied that Tracy would “cut her down to size.”
Initially, their personalities did not mesh well. Hepburn was a divorcee with a liberal background and Tracy was more conservative and religious.
However, once they started working together, their on-screen chemistry was undeniable. Their witty banter and sultry looks made them one of the most beloved pairs in Hollywood.
Hepburn once said, “On screen, Spencer and I are the perfect American couple.”
Although their relationship was not perfect, they were drawn to each other and kept their affair going for almost 30 years, despite Tracy being married.
The couple kept their love affair hidden from the press and public, but those in Hollywood were aware of the relationship.
Lauren Bacall, who was close with both Hepburn and Tracy, wrote that Hepburn was “blindingly” in love with Tracy, and Gene Kelly remembered, “At lunchtime they’d just meet and sit on a bench on the lot.”
“They’d hold hands and talk—and everybody left them alone in their little private world.”
The affair was not without challenges, as Tracy struggled with alcohol and infidelity.
There were incidents of Tracy being drunk and physically abusive to Hepburn, but she never considered ending the relationship.
She once said, “What would be the point? I mean, I loved him. And I wanted to be with him. If I had left, we would both have been miserable.”
The two often spent time apart while working, but they remained committed to each other.
Tracy’s poor health caught up with him in 1967 and he passed away from a heart attack.
He had almost died two years prior from heart disease and had been in poor health in the years leading up to his death.
Hepburn was by his side during his final years and cared for him until his passing.
She wrote in her autobiography, “He looked so happy to be done with living, which for all his accomplishments had been a frightful burden for him.”
Tracy and Hepburn’s love affair remains one of the most romantic and memorable in Hollywood history.
Their on-screen chemistry and their off-screen love story continue to captivate audiences today. Although their time together was cut short, their love for each other will live on forever.