Katharine Hepburn dies

Screwball comedy queen was 96

Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn, who starred in such golden era comedies as Brining Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story, has died aged 96.

She had suffered various illnesses in recent years, including Parkinson's disease and died at her Connecticut home at 6pm British time yesterday.

As a mark of respect, the lights will be dimmed along Broadway on Tuesday.

Hepburn made her first film in Hollywood - A Bill of Divorcement - in 1932, winning the first of four Oscars just a year later for her role in Morning Glory. A few duds followed, until her career picked up with 1937's Stage Door.

Then followed the screwball comedy that made her name, playing against Cary Grant in 1938's Bringing Up Baby. Two years later, she played opposite James Stewart in the more subtle comedy of The Philadelphia Story"

But it was serious roles in African Queen (1951) and 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - opposite her off-screen lover Spencer Tracy - that secured her iconic status.

She was not the most versatile of actresses, Dorothy Parker famously proclaiming: "She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B."

But legendary critic Kenneth Tynan realised that was also her strength: "She is not versatile. She is simply unique."

Hepburn herself was often self-deprecating about her own talents. "Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living," she once said. :"After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four."

President George Bush led the tributes last night, saying: "Katharine Hepburn delighted audiences with her unique talent for more than six decades. She was known for her intelligence and wit and will be remembered as one of the nation's artistic treasures."

Published: 30 Jun 2003

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.