He was voted the 15th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
He was voted the 19th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
He won an Oscar for playing Father Edward Flanagan in Boys Town (1938), making him the first actor to win the Award for playing a real person who was still alive at the evening of the Award ceremony. As of 2011, thirteen more actors joined him: Gary Cooper for playing Alvin C. York in Sergeant York (1941), Patty Duke for playing Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (1962), Jason Robards for playing Benjamin Bradlee in All the President's Men (1976), Robert De Niro for playing Jake La Motta in Raging Bull (1980), Sissy Spacek for playing Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), Jeremy Irons for playing Claus Von Bullow in Reversal of Fortune (1990) (1990); Susan Sarandon for playi
His Best Actor Oscar for Boys Town (1938) is inscribed with the name "Dick Tracy."
His father was of Irish descent and his mother was descended from the earliest English settlers in America.
His father, John Tracy, worked as a clerk at a railroad office.
His performance as Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind (1960) is ranked #67 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
His son, John Tracy, died June 15, 2007, at his son's home in Acton, Calif. He was 82. Cause of death, following a long illness, was unknown. His sister, Louise Treadwell "Susie" Tracy, announced his death.
In 1935, MGM bought Tracy's contact from 20th Century-Fox, as Louis B. Mayer respected his talent and thought he would be a good second lead, particularly in support of the studio's #1 male star, Clark Gable. Tracy had never developed into a star in his five years at Fox (which was merged with Darryl F. Zanuck's 20th Century Pictures), and Fox had cooled on him. After four years of playing second-fiddle to Gable (and inevitably losing the girl to the man they called "The King" of Hollywood), Tracy came into his own as a star in MGM vehicles such as Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938), for both of which he won back-to-back Best Actor Oscars. Though he remained friends with Gable, the two never co-starred together after 1940.
In 1956/57 when his longtime friend Humphrey Bogart was dying of cancer, Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were two of the only people who visited Bogie (and wife Lauren Bacall) at their home on an almost daily basis. They would sit together at Bogie's bedside for half an hour or so every evening in the months and weeks leading up to his death. After Bogie's death, Bacall requested that Tracy deliver the eulogy at the funeral. He apologetically declined, saying it would simply be too difficult for him. He felt he would be too emotional and wouldn't be able to do it. Bacall understood and director John Huston delivered the eulogy instead.
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Garden of Everlasting Peace, on the right just after entering.
Longtime companion Katharine Hepburn did not attend his funeral out of respect to his family.
Named the #9 Greatest Actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends List by The American Film Institute
Ranked #64 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Received a posthumous Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). His widow Louise attended the ceremony in the event that he would win. However, the award went instead to Rod Steiger for In the Heat of the Night (1967).
Sometimes people confuse Spencer Tracy and James Whitmore. The two sometimes look as if they could have been brothers.
Son John was born deaf; as a result, his wife, Louise, became an activist for deaf education, establishing the John Tracy Clinic at USC.
Tracy was offered the role of The Penguin in the TV series "Batman" (1966) before Burgess Meredith. He said he would only accept the role if he was allowed to kill Batman.
Tracy's political views are disputed. Some sources state that he was an arch conservative during the 1930s, but his views moderated after he met Katharine Hepburn. Others say that he was always a moderate Democrat. He often said he believed actors had no place in politics.