US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Born May 12: Katharine Hepburn

May 12, 2015 04:00 AM

Film and stage star Katharine Hepburn was born May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Conn. On May 12, 2010, the United States Postal Service issued a 44¢ commemorative stamp honoring her (Scott 4461).

The stamp is the 16th issue in the Legends of Hollywood commemorative series. The stamp design shows a black-and-white publicity photo taken by Clarence S. Bull for the 1942 film Woman of the Year. In the selvage of the pane of 20 stamps, Hepburn is pictured in a scene from a 1981 production of the Broadway play The West Side Waltz.

The selvage also includes a brief professional biography: "Katharine Hepburn (1907-2001) delighted stage, film and television audiences for more than half a century. With her independent spirit, ambition, energy, elegance, and versatility, she became one of Hollywood's most fascinating and enduring stars. Hepburn received four Academy Awards for her leading roles in Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981)."

Hepburn attended Bryn Mawr College, graduating in 1928, and immediately landed roles professionally, appearing on Broadway later that same year.

Her first film role was as Sydney Fairfield in the 1932 George Cukor melodrama, A Bill of Divorcement.

An early marriage to Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928 ended in divorce six years later. Hepburn never remarried, but was romantically linked with Howard Hughes, and later shared an extended professional and personal relationship with Spencer Tracy, who was married but estranged from his wife. Between 1942 and Tracy's death in 1967, the pair appeared in nine films together, from Woman of the Year in 1942, to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

Katharine Hepburn died at age 96 on June 29, 2003.