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Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy was a multi-Academy Award-winning American actor known for his work in Boys Town, Captains Courageous, Adam's Rib, Father of the Bride, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Old Man and the Sea, Inherit the Wind, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

A remarkably versatile actor, Tracy earned praise for his skillful, realistic portrayals in an era that was still dominated by stylized acting.

Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Spencer Bonaventure Tracy

Date, time and place of birth: April 5, 1900, at 1:57 a.m., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Date, time, place and cause of death: June 10, 1967, at 3:00 a.m., at 9166 Cordell Drive, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A. * (Heart attack)

Spouse: Louise Treadwell (m. September 12, 1923 - June 10, 1967) (his death)

Son: John Tracy (b. John Ten Broeck Tracy, June 26, 1924, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - d. June 15, 2007, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Acton, California, of natural causes)
Daughter: Louise Treadwell Tracy (a.k.a. Susie Tracy) (b. July 1, 1932)

Father: John Edward Tracy (in the trucking business)
Mother: Caroline "Carrie" (Brown) Tracy

Burial site: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California, U.S.A. **

Error corrections or clarifications

* Spencer Tracy died in a guest house on the grounds of George Cukor's estate, not at Spencer's own home at 1158 Tower Road, in Beverly Hills. Argument could certainly be made that he died on St. Ives Drive in Beverly Hills. This is due to the fact that the Cukor estate includes several homes covering several acres, stretching from Cordell Drive on the north, to St. Ives Drive on the south.

Most sources erroneously report "6:00 a.m." as his time of death. This was later discovered to be a cover story to conceal the fact that the still-married Tracy, was with Katharine Hepburn at the time of his death. (Their decades long affair was still not public knowledge at that time.) Hepburn later admitted she was with him at 3:00 a.m., the time of his death.

** Spencer Tracy is not buried in "Glenvale," California as several online sources report. His gravesite is located in Glendale, California, which is just north of Los Angeles.


Spencer Tracy was one of the most venerated American actors in history. It wasn't just the movie-going public that held him in such high regard. His fellow actors also consider him one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. The enormous respect and admiration he commanded was well-deserved. He was the first actor to ever win back-to-back Oscars for Captains Courageous, in 1937, and Boys Town, in 1938 (a record matched only by Tom Hanks more than half a century later). Spence garnered a total of nine Academy Award nominations, which is more than any actor in his lifetime.

In addition to the aforementioned motion pictures, other notable film credits include, The Power and the Glory (1933), Dante's Inferno (1935), San Francisco (1936), Stanley and Livingstone (1939), Northwest Passage (1940), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Woman of the Year (1942), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), State of the Union (1948), The People Against O'Hara (1951), Pat and Mike (1952) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).

He delivered some of his most memorable work when teamed with Katharine Hepburn onscreen. Their undeniable chemistry was clearly evident, and led to a long series of film collaborations that established them as one of the screen's greatest pairings. It wasn't long before their onscreen chemistry spilled over into their private lives. Tracy and Hepburn entered into an offscreen romance which continued for the remainder of Tracy's life. They successfully carried on their decades long affair in secrecy. It was not public knowledge until years later. Katharine Hepburn later revealed she was actually with him at the time of his death. As a devout Catholic, Spencer Tracy had refused to divorce his wife, even though they'd lived apart for decades.

In 1924, Tracy's son John was born deaf. This led to his wife's desire to help deaf children and their families. Louise Tracy founded the John Tracy Clinic in September of 1942 to provide services, free of charge, for deaf children ages one to five years and their families. It was she who insisted that the Clinic's services be offered free of charge. Spencer supported her work with the Clinic and was its sole source of financial support in the beginning. He personally donated in excess of half a million dollars to the Clinic over the years. The John Tracy Clinic continues its commendable mission today.


The most in-depth of more than three dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile:
Me: Stories of My Life, Katharine Hepburn's 1991 autobiography
Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir, by Garson Kanin (1970)
Spencer Tracy: Tragic Idol, by Bill Davidson (1987)

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