Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut on May 12, 1907 and was schooled primarily at home before attending Bryn Mawr college, from which she graduated in 1928. Her marriage that year to Ludlow Ogden Smith ended in 1934. Hepburn, who had been acting since a very early age, then she began to pursue it professionally; she appeared on Broadway in such shows as These Days and Art and Mrs. Bottle before making her mark in The Warrior's Husband in 1932.
She then turned to Hollywood, making her screen debut in 1932's A Bill of Divorcement. Although Hepburn was to take on a large number of varied roles, she had some difficulty in Hollywood after her early successes (including her third film, Morning Glory, for which she won the Academy Award) until she was able to ride her Broadway success in Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story to Hollywood superstardom. Some of her most well known work was done with actor Spencer Tracy in such films as Woman of the Year, Without Love, State of the Union, and Pat and Mike. Though the two never married, they had a love relationship that lasted 25 years.
Hepburn's Broadway shows included The Lake, Without Love, As You Like It, The Millionairess, the musical Coco, A Matter of Gravity, and The West Side Waltz. She won three more Academy Awards for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (her last film with Tracy), The Lion in Winter, and On Golden Pond, and starred in such other films as Stage Door, Bringing Up Baby, Suddenly, Last Summer, and Long Day's Journey Into Night. She was nominated for four Emmy Awards for her television work, winning one in 1975 for her performance in Love Among the Ruins.
In her later years, Hepburn suffered from a progressive neurological disease -- commonly misidentified as Parkinson's Disease -- that caused her head to shake. Her autobiography, Me: The Story of My Life was published in 1991, and her last film appearance in Love Affair (1994) won her great acclaim. A play about Hepburn, Matthew Lombardo's Tea At Five, is currently playing Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre.
The lights of Broadway will be dimmed at 8pm on Tuesday, July 1 in Hepburn's honor, according to a spokesperson for the League of American Theatres and Producers. At Hepburn's request, there will be no memorial service and her burial will be private.