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About Spencer Tracy
American film star Spencer Tracy was one of Hollywood's greatest male leads and the first actor to receive two consecutive Academy Awards for best actor. Tracy appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy ninth among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time.
He was born Spencer Bonaventure Tracy on April 5, 1900 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the second son of John Edward Tracy, an Irish American Catholic truck salesman, and Caroline Brown, a Protestant turned Christian Scientist. Tracy's paternal grandparents, John Tracy and Mary Guhin, were born in Ireland. His mother's ancestry dates back to Thomas Stebbins, who immigrated from England in the late 1630s.
Tracy attended six high schools. After graduating from Milwaukee's West Division High School, he attended Ripon College. There he appeared in a leading role in a play entitled The Truth and decided on acting as a career. While touring the Northeast with the Ripon debate team, he auditioned for and was accepted to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. His first Broadway role was as a robot in Karel Čapek's R.U.R. (1922), followed by five other Broadway plays in the 1920s. In 1923 he married actress Louise Treadwell. They had two children, John and Louise (Susie).
He finally achieved successon stage in the 1930 hit The Last Mile. Director John Ford was impressed by his performance and cast him in Up the River with Humphrey Bogart. Fox Film Corporation signed him to a long term contract, but after five years of mostly undistinguished films, he joined the most prestigious movie studio of the time, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where his career flourished. He won back-to-back Academy Awards for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938).
In 1942, he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year. The teaming lasted for decades, both on-screen and off. They fell in love and maintained an affair that lasted for decades. (Tracy was already married and, as a Catholic, would not consider divorce.) One of the greatest of cinematic couples, they made eight more films together, ending in 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, which was completed shortly before his death.
On June 10, 1967, seventeen days after filming had been completed on his last film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, with Hepburn, Spencer Tracy died of a heart attack at age 67, having long suffered from emphysema since the early 1950s from his daily smoking habit. The film was released in December, six months after his death.