Spencer Tracy was known for his natural performing style and versatility.
128 Facts About Spencer Tracy
One of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, Tracy was the first actor to win two consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor from nine nominations.
Spencer Tracy first discovered his talent for acting while attending Ripon College, and he later received a scholarship for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Spencer Tracy spent seven years in the theatre, working in a succession of stock companies and intermittently on Broadway.
Spencer Tracy's breakthrough came in 1930, when his lead performance in The Last Mile caught the attention of Hollywood.
Spencer Tracy's career flourished from his fifth MGM film Fury onwards, and in 1937 and 1938 he won consecutive Oscars for Captains Courageous and Boys Town.
Spencer Tracy teamed with Clark Gable, the studio's most prominent leading man for three major box office successes, so that by the early 1940s Tracy was one of MGM's top stars.
In 1955, Spencer Tracy won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film Bad Day at Black Rock.
Spencer Tracy left MGM in 1955, and continued to work regularly as a freelance star, despite several health issues and an increasing weariness and irritability as he aged.
Spencer Tracy and his wife Louise became estranged in the 1930s, but the couple never divorced; his 25-year long relationship with Katharine Hepburn was an open secret.
Towards the end of his life, Spencer Tracy worked almost exclusively for director Stanley Kramer.
Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was born in Milwaukee on April 5,1900, the second son of Caroline and truck salesman John Edward Tracy.
Spencer Tracy's mother was from a wealthy Presbyterian Midwestern family, while his father was of Irish Catholic descent.
Spencer Tracy had a brother Carroll, who was four years older.
Spencer Tracy became fascinated with movies, watching the same ones repeatedly and later re-enacting scenes to his friends and neighbors.
Spencer Tracy attended several Jesuit academies in his teenage years, which he claimed took the "badness" out of him and helped him improve his grades.
Spencer Tracy achieved the rank of seaman second class, but never went to sea and was discharged in February 1919.
Spencer Tracy entered in February 1921, declaring his intention to major in medicine.
Spencer Tracy was a popular student at Ripon, where he served as president of his hall and was involved in a number of college activities.
Spencer Tracy made his stage debut in June 1921, playing the male lead in The Truth.
Spencer Tracy was very well received in the role and quickly developed a passion for the stage; he was reportedly "obsessive about acting to the degree that he talked about little else".
Spencer Tracy was offered a scholarship to attend the school after performing a scene from one of his earlier roles.
Spencer Tracy left Ripon and began classes at AADA in April 1922.
Spencer Tracy was deemed fit to progress to the senior class, allowing him to join the academy's stock company.
Spencer Tracy made his New York debut in a play called The Wedding Guests, which opened in October 1922.
Immediately following graduation, Spencer Tracy joined a new stock company based in White Plains, New York where he was given peripheral roles.
Dejected, Spencer Tracy was forced back to Wright and the stock circuit.
Spencer Tracy swore that if the play failed to be a hit he would leave stock and work in a "regular" business instead.
Spencer Tracy followed this success with another Cohan play, Whispering Friends, and in 1929 took over from Clark Gable in Conflict, a Broadway drama.
In January 1930, Spencer Tracy was approached about a new play called The Last Mile.
Spencer Tracy was cast in two Vitaphone shorts, but he had not considered becoming a film actor: "I had no ambition in that direction and I was perfectly happy on the stage", he later explained in an interview.
Production company Fox Film Corporation was unsure about Spencer Tracy, saying that he did not photograph well, but Ford convinced them that he was right for the role.
Spencer Tracy appeared on the stage only once more in his life.
Spencer Tracy found himself typecast in comedies, usually playing a crook or a con man.
In mid-1932, after nine pictures, Spencer Tracy remained virtually unknown to the public.
Spencer Tracy considered leaving Fox once his contract was up for renewal, but a raise in his weekly salary to $1,500 convinced him to stay.
Spencer Tracy has appeared in unpopular films, with Me and My Gal setting an all-time low attendance record for the Roxy Theatre in New York City.
Spencer Tracy was hopeful that it would be his break-out role, but despite good reviews, this failed to materialize.
Spencer Tracy drank heavily during his years with Fox and gained a reputation as an alcoholic.
Spencer Tracy failed to report for filming on Marie Galante in June 1934, and was found in his hotel room, virtually unconscious after a two-week binge.
Spencer Tracy was removed from the Fox payroll while he recovered in a hospital, and then sued for $125,000 for delaying the production.
Spencer Tracy completed only two more pictures with the studio.
Spencer Tracy was still under contract with the studio when MGM expressed their interest in the actor.
Spencer Tracy made a total of 25 pictures in the five years he was with Fox Film Corporation, most of which lost money at the box office.
Biographer James Curtis writes: "Spencer Tracy was scarcely a blip on the box office barometer in 1935, a critics' darling and little more".
Spencer Tracy was well known for being a troublemaker.
Thalberg then began a strategy of pairing Spencer Tracy with the studio's top actresses: Whipsaw co-starred Myrna Loy and was a commercial success.
Fury was the first film to prove that Spencer Tracy could make a success on his own merit.
Spencer Tracy played a supporting role alongside Clark Gable in the film, allowing audiences to see him with the top male star in Hollywood.
Spencer Tracy played a Portuguese fisherman in the adventure movie, based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling.
Spencer Tracy was uncomfortable feigning a foreign accent, and resented having his hair curled, but the role was a hit with audiences and Tracy won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Spencer Tracy was reunited with Clark Gable and Myrna Loy for Test Pilot.
Spencer Tracy was listed as the fifth biggest box office star of 1938.
Curtis maintains that Spencer Tracy's non-visibility did little to affect his standing with the public or exhibitors.
MGM capitalized on Spencer Tracy's popularity, casting him in four movies for 1940.
Spencer Tracy then portrayed Thomas Edison in Edison, the Man.
Boom Town was the third and final Gable-Spencer Tracy picture, starring Claudette Colbert and Hedy Lamarr, making it one of the most anticipated films of the year.
Spencer Tracy signed a new contract with MGM in April 1941, which paid $5,000 a week and limited him to three pictures a year.
Contrary to popular belief, the contract did not include a clause that he receive top billing, but from this point onward, every film Spencer Tracy appeared in featured his name first.
Spencer Tracy returned to the role of Father Flanagan for the sequel Men of Boys Town.
Spencer Tracy was unhappy with the film, disliking the heavy make-up he needed to portray Hyde.
Spencer Tracy was set to star in a film version of The Yearling for 1942, but several on-set difficulties and bad weather on location forced MGM to shelve the production.
Hepburn greatly admired Spencer Tracy, calling him "the best movie actor there was".
Spencer Tracy had wanted him for her comeback vehicle, The Philadelphia Story.
In 1945, Spencer Tracy returned to the stage for the first time in 15 years.
Spencer Tracy considered leaving the show before it even opened on Broadway, and lasted there just six weeks before announcing his intention to close the show.
Spencer Tracy followed it later that year with Cass Timberlane, in which he played a judge.
Spencer Tracy played a presidential candidate in the movie, which was warmly received.
Spencer Tracy then appeared in Edward, My Son with Deborah Kerr.
Spencer Tracy finished off the 1940s with Malaya, an adventure film with James Stewart, and Adam's Rib, a comedy with Spencer Tracy and Hepburn playing married lawyers who oppose each other in court.
Spencer Tracy received his first Academy Award nomination in 12 years for playing the role of Stanley Banks in Father of the Bride.
MGM wanted a sequel, and while Spencer Tracy was unsure, he accepted.
Spencer Tracy portrayed a lawyer in The People Against O'Hara and re-teamed with Hepburn for the sports comedy Pat and Mike, the second feature written expressly for them by Kanin and Gordon.
Spencer Tracy returned to the role of a concerned father in The Actress.
In 1955, Spencer Tracy turned down William Wyler's The Desperate Hours because he refused to take second-billing to Humphrey Bogart.
Spencer Tracy had personally been unhappy with the picture and threatened to leave during production.
Spencer Tracy began production on Tribute to a Bad Man in the summer of 1955, but pulled out when he claimed that the shooting location in the Colorado mountains gave him altitude sickness.
In June 1955, he was one of the two remaining stars of the studio's peak years, but with his contract up for renewal, Spencer Tracy opted to freelance for the first time in his movie career.
Spencer Tracy's performance earned a BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Actor.
Spencer Tracy again had to be convinced to stay with the film, one which met with a weak response.
Spencer Tracy appeared in The Old Man and the Sea, a project that had been in development for five years.
Spencer Tracy was told to lose some of his 210 pounds before filming began but failed to do so.
Hemingway thus reported that Spencer Tracy was a "terrible liability to the picture", and had to be reassured that the star was being carefully photographed to disguise his weight problem.
Spencer Tracy received Oscar and BAFTA Award nominations for the work.
Spencer Tracy nevertheless began to ponder retirement, with Curtis writing that he was "chronically tired, unhappy, ill, and uninterested in work".
Spencer Tracy did not appear on the screen again until the release of Inherit the Wind, a film based on the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial" which debated the right to teach evolution in schools.
Spencer Tracy recorded it in one take and received a round of applause from the cast and crew.
Spencer Tracy turned down roles in Long Day's Journey into Night and The Leopard, and had to pull out of MGM's all-star How the West Was Won when it clashed with Judgment at Nuremberg.
Spencer Tracy was able to record the film's narration track.
Spencer Tracy was in very poor health by this time, and working became a challenge.
Spencer Tracy's name topped the list of performers, and the comedy became one of the highest-grossing American films of the year.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner explored the topic of interracial marriage, with Spencer Tracy playing a liberal-minded newspaper publisher whose values are challenged when his daughter wishes to marry a black man, played by Sidney Poitier.
Spencer Tracy appeared happy to be working again, but he told journalists visiting the set that the movie would be his last for he would permanently retire after filming due to his health problems.
Spencer Tracy completed his last scene on May 24,1967.
Spencer Tracy was devastated by the news and felt lifelong guilt over his son's deafness.
Spencer Tracy was convinced that John's hearing impairment was a punishment for his own sins.
Spencer Tracy left the family home in 1933, and he and Louise openly discussed the separation with the media, maintaining that they were still friends and had not taken divorce action.
From September 1933 to June 1934, Spencer Tracy had a public affair with Loretta Young, his co-star in Man's Castle.
Spencer Tracy increasingly lived in hotels and by the 1940s, the two were effectively living separate lives.
Spencer Tracy frequently engaged in extramarital affairs, including with co-stars Joan Crawford in 1937 and Ingrid Bergman in 1941.
Spencer Tracy had an affair with Myrna Loy in 1935 and 1936.
Spencer Tracy never returned to live in the family home, although he visited regularly.
The MGM moguls were careful to protect their stars from controversy, and Spencer Tracy wished to conceal his relationship with Hepburn from his wife, so it was hidden from the public.
In Hollywood the intimate nature of the Spencer Tracy-Hepburn partnership was an open secret.
Spencer Tracy did not believe actors should publicize their political views, but in 1940 lent his name to the "Hollywood for Roosevelt" committee and personally identified as a Democrat.
Spencer Tracy struggled with alcoholism throughout his adult life, an ailment that ran in his father's side of the family.
Loretta Young remarked that Spencer Tracy was "awful" when he was drunk, and he was twice arrested for his behavior while intoxicated.
Hepburn, who adopted a nursing role towards Spencer Tracy, was unable to understand her partner's unhappiness.
On July 21,1963, Spencer Tracy was hospitalized after a severe attack of breathlessness.
From this point on Spencer Tracy remained very weak, and Hepburn moved into his home to provide constant care.
Spencer Tracy almost died in September 1965: a stay in the hospital following a prostatectomy resulted in his kidneys failing, and he spent the night in a coma.
Spencer Tracy spent most of the next two years at home with Hepburn, living what she described as a quiet life: reading, painting, and listening to music.
Spencer Tracy is interred at Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park, near his wife Louise, son John and daughter Susie.
Spencer Tracy had a solid reputation among his peers and received considerable praise from the film industry.
Spencer Tracy was referred to as the greatest actor of his generation by Clark Gable, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, John Ford, Garson Kanin, and Katharine Hepburn.
Actor Richard Widmark, who idolized Spencer Tracy, called him "the greatest movie actor there ever was" and said that he had "learned more about acting from watching Spencer Tracy than in any other way".
Spencer Tracy listened, he felt, he said the words without forcing anything.
Spencer Tracy was praised for his listening and reacting skills; Barry Nelson said that he "brought the art of reacting to a new height", while Stanley Kramer declared that he "thought and listened better than anyone in the history of motion pictures".
Millard Kaufman noted that Spencer Tracy "listened with every fiber of his entire body".
Spencer Tracy disliked being asked about his technique or what advice he would give to others.
Spencer Tracy continues to receive praise from film scholars: critic Leonard Maltin calls Tracy "one of the 20th century's finest actors", while film historian Jeanine Basinger describes his career as a "golden record of movie achievement".
Charles Matthews, writing for The Washington Post, argues that "Spencer Tracy deserves to be remembered for himself, as a master of acting technique".
Past recipients of the UCLA Spencer Tracy Award include James Stewart, Michael Douglas, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Kirk Douglas and Morgan Freeman.
In 2009, Spencer Tracy provided inspiration for the character Carl in Pixar's Oscar-winning film Up.
Spencer Tracy was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor, a category record he holds with Laurence Olivier.
Spencer Tracy was the first of nine actors to win the award twice, and is one of two actors to receive it consecutively, the other being Tom Hanks.
Spencer Tracy was nominated for five British Academy Film Awards, of which he won two, and four Golden Globe Awards, winning once.
Spencer Tracy was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the following performances:.