Claim to Fame: Actor
DOB: April 5, 1900
Date of Death: June 10, 1967
Diabetes Type: unknown
Quote: "It is up to us to give ourselves recognition. If we wait for it to come from others, we feel resentful when it doesn't, and when it does, we may well reject it."
Spencer Tracy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 5, 1900. He attended no fewer than six high schools, and enlisted in the Navy at the start of World War I. At the end of the war, Tracy went from the Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia to Ripon College in Wisconsin to pursue a career in acting. He then attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. In 1923, he landed his first role in R.U.R. with a nonspeaking part as a robot while supporting himself with jobs as a bellhop, janitor, and salesman. That same year, Tracy wedded Louise Treadwell. Though he would be remembered as the lifelong companion of actress Katharine Hepburn, Tracy never formally divorced his wife, citing religious reasons. Tracy's luck changed when Director John Ford saw his critically acclaimed lead in The Last Mile and signed him to Up the River. In 1931, Tracy and his family moved to Hollywood where he made 16 films in three years. He signed with MGM in 1935.
Tracy first met Katharine Hepburn in Hollywood in 1942. The couple made nine films together, the first of which was Woman of the Year.
Entertainment Weekly voted Tracy the 15th Greatest Movie Star of All Time; Premiere Magazine voted him 19th; and the American Film Institute named him the 9th Greatest Actor on its 50 Greatest Screen Legends list. Oscar winner Tracy is often mentioned alongside Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier as one of the greatest movie actors of all time; unlike the other two, Tracy was not already a successful stage actor before entering the film world. As of 2009, Tracy is one of only six performers to have won a Golden Globe Award as Best Lead Actor/Actress in a Motion Picture Drama without being nominated for an Oscar for that same role.
Tracy–a spokesman for Lucky Strike cigarettes, an oil painter, and an advocate for animal welfare and children's charities–was diagnosed with diabetes in the late 1940s. He feared that public knowledge of his diagnosis would have an adverse effect on his acting career. He was seriously ill with diabetes and emphysema during the filming of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967. A few weeks after the movie's completion, Tracy died of a heart attack. It is said that Hepburn never saw Guess Who's Coming to Dinner because it was too painful for her to watch. Hepburn did not attend her companion's funeral out of respect to his family.
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