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Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy 9th among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor in all.

Early life

Tracy was born in Milwaukeemarker, Wisconsinmarker 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, starting with Wauwatosa High School in 1915 and St. John's Cathedral Schoolmarker for boys in Milwaukee the following year. The Tracy family then moved to Kansas Citymarker, where Spencer was enrolled at St. Mary's College, Kansas, a boarding school in St. Marys, Kansas 30 miles west of Topeka, Kansasmarker, then transferred to Rockhurstmarker, a Jesuit academy in Kansas City, Missourimarker. John Tracy's job in Kansas City did not work out, and the family returned to Milwaukee six months after their departure. Spencer was enrolled at Marquette Academymarker, another Jesuit school, where he met fellow actor Pat O'Brien. The two young men left school in spring 1917 to enlist in the Navy after the American entry into World War I, but Tracy remained in Norfolk Navy Yardmarker, Virginia throughout the war. Afterwards, Tracy continued his high school education at Marquette Academy then transferred to Northwestern Military and Naval Academy near Lake Geneva, Wisconsinmarker. He finished his last few credits needed to graduate at Milwaukee's West Division High School (now Milwaukee High School of the Arts) in February 1921.

Afterward he attended Ripon College where he appeared in a leading role in a play entitled The Truth, and decided on acting as a career. Tracy received an honorary degree from Ripon College in 1940. 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 Broadwaymarker 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).

Career

performed in stock in Michigan, Canada, and Ohio for several years. Finally in 1930 he appeared in a hit play on Broadway, The Last Mile. Director John Ford saw Tracy in The Last Mile and signed Tracy for Up the River (1930) with Humphrey Bogart for Fox Film Corporation. Shortly after that Tracy and his family moved to Hollywoodmarker: 25 films in the next five years featured him.

In 1935 Tracy signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor two years in a row, for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938).
He was also nominated for San Francisco (1936), Father of the Bride (1950), Bad Day at Black Rockmarker (1955), The Old Man and the Sea (1958), Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), and posthumously for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). Tracy and Laurence Olivier share the record in the number of their nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Tracy's reputation for versatility and naturalness are based on the twenty years (1935-1955) he acted at Metro Goldwyn Mayer and for the subsequent dozen years when he was an independent actor. Yet the twenty-five films he made prior to his move to MGM are notable in that they demonstrate the range and diversity of characters he would continue to deliver through his post-Fox career (and which would earn him two Academy Awards and nine nominations).

Tracy and Hepburn

In 1941, during the filming of Woman of the Year, Tracy began a relationship with Katharine Hepburn. Their relationship, which neither would discuss publicly, lasted until Tracy's death in 1967. Their relationship was complex and there were periods during which they were estranged. During one estrangement, Tracy had a brief romance with actress Gene Tierney while filming the Plymouth Adventure in 1952.

Death and legacy

During his later years, Tracy's health worsened after he was diagnosed with diabetes, exacerbated by his alcoholism. In 1963, he suffered a heart attack, forcing him to pull out of Cheyenne Autumn and The Cincinnati Kid. Edward G. Robinson replaced him for both films. Seventeen days after filming had been completed on his last film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, with Hepburn, he died of a heart attack having long suffered from emphysema. The film was released in December, six months after his death.

In 1988, the University of California, Los Angeles' Campus Events Commission and Susie Tracy created the UCLA Spencer Tracy Award. The award has been given to actors in recognition for their achievement in film acting. Past recipients include William Hurt, James Stewart, Michael Douglas, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Harrison Ford, Anjelica Huston, Nicolas Cage, Kirk Douglas, Jack Lemmon and Morgan Freeman.

The main character Carl from Pixar's film Up was primarily based on a combination of Spencer Tracy and Walter Matthau, because, according to director Pete Docter, there was "something sweet about these grumpy old guys".

Filmography and awards

Tracy appeared in 75 feature films, and several short films. With Katharine Hepburn he starred in nine feature films, one of the most successful screen pairings in film history.

Nine of the films he starred in were nominated for Best Picture: San Francisco (Oscar Nomination), Libeled Lady, Captains Courageous (Oscar), Test Pilot, Boys Town (Oscar), Father of the Bride (Oscar Nomination), Judgment at Nuremberg (Oscar Nomination), How the West Was Won and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Oscar Nomination).

He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor on nine occasions, and won the award in 1937, for Captains Courageous, and in 1938, for Boys Town. He won a Golden Globe Award for The Actress (1953) from a total of four nominations. He was awarded a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his posthumously released performance opposite Hepburn in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).

One of his Oscars was mistakenly inscribed to Dick Tracy before being corrected.

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1930 The Strong Arm short subject
Taxi Talks Taxi Driver short subject
The Hard Guy Guy short subject
Up the River Saint Louis
1931 Quick Millions Daniel J. 'Bugs' Raymond
Six Cylinder Love William Donroy
Goldie Bill
1932 She Wanted a Millionaire William Kelley
Sky Devils Wilkie
Disorderly Conduct Dick Fay
Young America Jack Doray
Society Girl Briscoe
The Painted Woman Tom Brian
Me and My Gal Danny Dolan
20,000 Years in Sing Sing Tommy Connors
1933 Face in the Sky Joe Buck
Shanghai Madness Pat Jackson
The Power and the Glory Tom Garner
Man's Castle Bill
The Mad Game Edward Carson
1934 The Show-Off J. Aubrey Piper
Looking for Trouble Joe Graham
Bottoms Up 'Smoothie' King
Now I'll Tell Murray Golden
Marie Galante Dr. Crawbett
1935 It's a Small World Bill Shevlin
The Murder Man Steven 'Steve' Grey first credited screen role of James Stewart
Dante's Inferno Jim Carter
Whipsaw Ross 'Mac' McBride
1936 Riffraff Dutch with Mickey Rooney
Fury Joe Wilson
San Francisco Father Mullin with Clark Gable

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Libeled Lady Haggerty
1937 They Gave Him a Gun Fred P. Willis
Captains Courageous Manuel Fidello with Mickey Rooney

Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Big City Joe Benton
Mannequin John L. Hennessey
1938 Test Pilot Gunner Morris with Clark Gable
Boys Town Father Flanagan with Mickey Rooney

Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Another Romance of Celluloid himself behind-the-scenes short film, includes filming of Test Pilot, and shows Tracy accepting his Academy Award for Boys Town
Screen Snapshots Series 17, No. 9 himself short subject showing Tracy accepting his Academy Award for Boys Town
Hollywood Goes to Town himself short subject, showing notable Hollywood performers preparing for the world premiere of Marie Antoinette
1939 Stanley and Livingstone Henry M. Stanley
For Auld Lang Syne himself fundraising short film in which several actors, including Tracy, appeal for funds for the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital
Hollywood Hobbies himself behind-the-scenes short film
1940 I Take This Woman Dr. Karl Decker
Young Tom Edison uncredited role with Mickey Rooney

Tracy appears as a man admiring a portrait of Edison; he plays the older Edison in Edison, the Man in the same year
Northwest Passage Major Rogers
Edison, the Man Thomas Edison
Boom Town Jonathan Sand with Clark Gable
Northward, Ho! himself behind-the-scenes short film about the filming of Northwest Passage
1941 Men of Boys Town Father Flanagan with Mickey Rooney
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
1942 Woman of the Year Sam Craig first film with Katharine Hepburn
Tortilla Flat Pilon
Keeper of the Flame Steven 'Stevie' O'Malley with Katharine Hepburn
Ring of Steel Narrator Military documentary
1943 His New World Narrator documentary
A Guy Named Joe Pete Sandidge
His New World Narrator War documentary
1944 The Seventh Cross George Heisler
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle
1945 Without Love Pat Jamieson with Katharine Hepburn
1947 The Sea of Grass Col. James B. 'Jim' Brewton with Katharine Hepburn
Cass Timberlane Cass Timberlane
1948 State of the Union Grant Matthews with Katharine Hepburn
1949 Edward, My Son Arnold Boult
Adam's Rib Adam Bonner with Katharine Hepburn
Malaya Canaghan
Some of the Best himself retrospective of MGM's history
1950 Father of the Bride Stanley Banks Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
1951 Father's Little Dividend Stanley Banks
The People Against O'Hara James P. Curtayne
For Defense for Freedom for Humanity himself short film in which Tracy urges support for Red Cross fundraising
1952 Pat and Mike Mike Conovan with Katharine Hepburn
Plymouth Adventure Captain Christopher Jones with Gene Tierney
1953 The Actress Clinton Jones Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1954 Broken Lance Matt Devereaux
1955 Bad Day at Black Rockmarker John J. Macreedy Best Actor Award Prix d'interprétation masculine

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1956 The Mountain Zachary Teller Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor
1957 Desk Set Richard Sumner with Katharine Hepburn
1958 The Old Man and the Sea The Old Man/Narrator NBR Award for Best Actor (award was also for The Last Hurrah)

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
The Last Hurrah Mayor Frank Skeffington NBR Award for Best Actor (award was also for The Old Man and the Sea)

Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1960 Inherit the Wind Henry Drummond Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1961 The Devil at 4 O'Clock Father Matthew Doonan
Judgment at Nuremberg Chief Judge Dan Haywood Fotogramas de Plata Award for Best Foreign Performer

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
1962 How the West Was Won Narrator
1963 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Captain C. G. Culpepper with Mickey Rooney
1967 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Matt Drayton with Katharine Hepburn

BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (posthumous)

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor (posthumous)

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (posthumous)

Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (posthumous)


See also



References

Bibliography

  • Tracy is a character in this murder-mystery set against the 1940 World Premiere of Edison, the Man.


External links




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