Legendary actor, Spencer Tracy, was born Spencer Bonaventure Tracy on Apr 5, 1900 in Milwaukee, WI. Tracy died at the age of 67 on Jun 10, 1967 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery (Glendale) in Glendale, CA.
The Early Years
Broad, stocky, with a plain yet gruff face, Spencer Tracy was an unlikely candidate for a classic leading man. However, the actors screen presence, versatility, and naturalistic performance style has made him one of classic Hollywood's most highly regarded and deeply beloved screen actors. Tracy was on April 5th, 1900 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An energetic hyperactive child, as a boy he was more interested in playing and rough-rousing than school. His parents, devout Catholics, sent him to several Jesuit academies during his teen years in hopes of learning better self-discipline. Although his grades and behaviors did improve, his passions for academia did not, and on his eighteenth birthday he enrolled in the Navy. Although he trained at the Navel Training Station in Chicago, the World War I would come to an end before his training would end. He was discharged in February of 1919. Upon returning home he enrolled at Ripon College. It is while there his interest in theatre. His first stage role would be his college production of The Truth in 1921. Soon after, while on you're with his college debate team, auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Not only was he accepted but offered a scholarship, as well. He graduated in 1923. Soon after, he made his Broadway debut in R.U.R, playing a wordless robot.
Between 1923 and 1924 Tracy suffered a series of setbacks. His Broadway engagement A Royal Fandango has such bad review it closed early, acting company's he joined failed and his first leading role for an acting company in Winnipeg dissolved. In 1926 Tracy got another chance at Broadway with the George M. Cohan play Yellow. The play received mixed reviews but it did prove the start of an important creative partnership between Tracy and Cohan. His next two lead roles were both penned by Cohan and were both hits. In 1929, he starred in an off-Broadway play Dread. Despite excellent reviews after the stock-market crash of 1929 the play was unable to attain enough funding to go to Broadway. In 1930 he starred in The Last Mile. Tracy's performance as serial killer on death row was so well received the standing ovation lasted 14 curtain calls. The play was a hit and lasted 289 performances.
In 1930, Tracy trekked to Hollywood to star in two shorts, Taxi Talks and The Hard Guy. After a few initial rejected screen tests, John Ford insisted he be cast in next prison film, citing Tracy's work in The Last Mile the reason. The film, both Tracy and Humphrey Bogart's feature debut, was a hit and Tracy was rewarded with a five year contract at 20th Century Fox. His next few films, including Quick Millions, Goldie, She Wanted a Millionaire and Sky Devils, were all quickly made, subpar comedy's that made no profit. It would not be until 1933's The Power and The Glory that critics began to take note of the young actor. His next film Shanghai Madness display a sex appeal yet seen by the movie going audience. The success however was short-lived and by 1935, after a steady string of low quality films and newly minted drinking problem, Tracy left 20th Century Fox.
After leaving Fox, Tracy was signed to MGM. His first film for his new Studio The Murder Man was a success. He starred as a romantic interested for Myrna Loy in Whipsaw and Jean Harlow in Riffraff but it wasn't until his forth him for the studio, Fritz Lang 1936's Fury, that Tracy proved he was truly leading man material. In 1936, he also had a supporting role in the big-budget disaster film San Francisco. For his 17 minutes on screen, Tracy received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His next film was the screwball comedy Libeled Lady, also starring William Powell, Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow. The film was a hit and Tracy's star was on the rise. In 1937 he won his first Academy Awards for the role of a Portuguese fisherman in the film adaption Captain Courageous directed by Victor Fleming. In 1938 he once again paired with Myrna Loy and Clark Cable for the high-flying romance, Test Pilot. The film was a smash hit and later that year he starred in Boys Town as Father Flanagan, founder of Boys Town, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families and children. He received an unprecedented second consecutive Academy Award for the role. Tracy was now ranked one of the biggest and brightest stars in all of Hollywood.
Eager to capitalize on their stars new popularity, Tracy made I Take This Woman, The Northwest Passage, Edison; The Man, and Boom Town all in 1940. Boom Town, the last of Tracy's collaborations with Clark Gable, had opening numbers not seen since Gone With the Wind. In 1942 he revised his role of Father Flanagan in Men of Boys Town and followed that with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His next film, Woman of the Year, co-starring Katharine Hepburn sparked a 27-year partnership, a romance both on and off the screen. Although critics didn't receive their next film together, 1942ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs Keeper of the Flame, very well, audiences did. The film made more money at the box-office than first, proving the strength of the pairing.
In 1943 Tracy starred in three war themed films. The first was A Guy Named Joe, his highest grossing film to date. The next was 1944's The Seventh Crossing and the later that year, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. In 1945, he teamed with Hepburn for the romantic comedy Without Love. He returned to the stage for Robert E. Sherwood's The Rugged Path. The experience wasn't a good one for Tracy, feeling stifled by repetition of stage work. Although well received, The play closed after only 81 performances at the behest of Tracy. His next film wasn't until 1947ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs The Sea of Grass, opposite Hepburn. They teamed again the next year, this time for Frank Capra's State of Union. His next film, Edward, My Son, was his biggest finical failure at MGM. He finished out the decade with another Hepburn collaboration, Adam's Rib. The received great critical review and stands as the highest grossing Hepburn/Tracy pairing to date.
He started out 1950 with another Academy Award nomination for his role as the father of Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride. He starred in its sequel, Father's Little Dividend and once again with Hepburn in the sports comedy, Pat and Mike. In 1953, although he received some of the best reviews of his career for The Actress, the film received little fanfare. In 1955, he starred in John Sturges film Bad Day at Black Rock. He received his fifth Academy Award nomination and was award Best Actor at The Cannes Film Festival.
Later Career and Death
In 1955 Tracy had become dissatisfied with MGM Studios. Feeling the studio management had changed too much since his early days, Tracy left the studio and was worked independently for the first time. His first film as a free agent was the well-received Paramount studio film, The Mountain. His next film was another Hepburn collaboration, 1957's Desk Set. After that was the film adaptation of Ernst Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Tracy received yet another Academy Award nomination. In 1960, he began a partnership with director Stanley Kramer that would shape the latter part of his career. Their first film was Inherit the Wind. Although not a commercial hit, Tracy received some of the best reviews of his life and was nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe. Their next film was the courtroom drama, Judgment at Nuremberg. For the role, Tracy was required to give a 13-minute monolog. He did so in one take and received an ovation from cast and crew. The film went on be one of the biggest hits of the year and Tracy was nominated for his eighth Oscar nomination.
It soon became apparent Tracy's health was failing as he was forced to deny numerous reputable projects due to physical ailment. He was able to act a small role in Kramer's comedy ensemble It's a Mad Mad Mad World. It seems fitting Tracy's final film would be collaboration between himself and his two greatest partners: Katharine Hepburn and Stanley Kramer. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner starred Tracy, Hepburn and Sidney Poitier and was an exploration in to the topic if interracial marriage. He told the press it would be his last film and he was correct. Two weeks after shooting had wrapped, on June 10th, 1967 Spencer Tracy passed away of a heart attack. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner would become Tracy's highest grossing film. He posthumously received his ninth Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and received the prize of Best actor from the British Academy. He was 67 years old at the time of his death.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
|1936||Best Actor||San Francisco (1936)||Father Tim Mullen||Nominated|
|1937||Best Actor||Captains Courageous (1937)||Manuel||Won|
|1938||Best Actor||Boys Town (1938)||Father Flanagan||Won|
|1950||Best Actor||Father of the Bride (1950)||Stanley T. Banks||Nominated|
|1955||Best Actor||Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)||John J. Macreedy||Nominated|
|1958||Best Actor||The Old Man and the Sea (1958)||The Old Man||Nominated|
|1960||Best Actor||Inherit the Wind (1960)||Henry Drummond||Nominated|
|1961||Best Actor||Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)||Judge Dan Haywood||Nominated|
|1967||Best Actor||Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)||Matt Drayton||Nominated|
He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures.
Me and My Gal (1932): and Joan BennettBy 4 Star Film Fan on May 23, 2022 From 4 Star Films
falls easily into the role of an Irish cop on the beat, Danny Dolan, working in the heart of the pier on the Lower East Side. What stands out immediately is his humanity and good-natured benevolence extended to his neighbors. In a matter of minutes, he’s nabbed himself a banana, ... Read full article
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955): and Small-Town BigotryBy 4 Star Film Fan on Nov 10, 2019 From 4 Star Films
In its theatrical cut, Bad Day at Black Rock opens furiously, charging forward with the momentum of a freight train as the credits roll and Andre Previn’s score thrashes in the film’s most manic moment. From thenceforward, its greatest strength is restraint. The whole town cowers around ... Read full article
THE SECOND AND KATHARINE HEPBURN BLOGATHON: Keeper of the Flame (1942)on Oct 11, 2019 From Caftan Woman
Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is co-hosting with Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood The Second and Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. The celebration runs from October 11 - 13. Check out the interesting contributions HERE. The 1942 release Keeper of the Fl... Read full article
March Madness #14By Kat_Selby on Mar 14, 2018 From All Good Things
Welcome to Day 14 of MARCH MADNESS! Every day in March, ALL GOOD THINGS will highlight a Super-Star. The type of Star renowned for many types of roles: really, really B.A.D. to sweetest-dearest-most darling! DAY #13 Results: LANA TURNER seems to delight in either her sweet-lamb roles or her lion-h... Read full article
Classic Movie Travels: and Milwaukee WisconsinBy Annette Bochenek on Oct 24, 2017 From Classic Movie Hub Blog
Classic Movie Travels: and Milwaukee Wisconsin “The kids keep telling me I should try this new ‘Method Acting’ but I’m too old, I’m too tired, and I’m too talented to care.” – Katharine Hepburn and are one of th... Read full article
See all articles
Henry M. Stanley: Dr. Livingstone, I presume?
Dr. David Livingstone: Yes!
Henry M. Stanley: Thank God, Doctor, I have been permitted to see you.
Henry Drummond: But all you have to do is knock on any door and say, "If you let me in, I'll live the way you want me to live, and I'll think the way you want me to think," and all the blinds'll go up and all the windows will open, and you'll never be lonely, ever again. If that's the case, I'll change the plea - that is, if you know the law's right and you're wrong.
read more quotes from Spencer Tracy...