Flashback Friday: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s secret love story and the speculations that followed

On this week's Flashback Friday we take a look at Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s secret love story and all the speculations it was subjected to.
Hollywood,Katharine Hepburn,Spencer TracyFlashback Friday: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s secret love story and the speculations that followed
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Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s romance was one of Hollywood’s greatest real-life love stories of all time. As complicated as it was, Hepburn and Tracy’s unbreakable bond stretched across three wonderful decades and always remained their little secret. Even though the world was not technically unaware of their off-screen romance, no one could ignore the chemistry they shared on screen. The Hollywood stars featured together in nine films including Woman of the Year and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. 

In real life, the two maintained separate residences and never exchanged vows. They first met on the set of the comedy-drama Woman of the Year (1942). In the film, they played two journalists who end up falling in love. Back then, Tracy was 41, and Hepburn was 34. In her autobiography Me: Stories of My Life, Hepburn wrote she “knew right away that [she] found him irresistible.” Although people in and around Hollywood knew about the two, they never came out in the open and officially admitted their relationship. The romance was kept under wraps by the studio system as well. 

Hepburn was married previously to businessman Ludlow Ogden Smith. But the two got divorced in 1934. Tracy, on the other hand, married actress Louise Treadwell in 1923. They shared two children together -- son John (1924), daughter Susie (1932). John’s son was diagnosed deaf as an infant Tracy believed that it was because of his sins that his son was suffering. This took a toll on him and the actor started distancing himself from his family. He was a catholic and back in the day, divorce was not an option. So, even though he was technically married, Tracy spent his life in hotels and rented residents. 

As he moved away from his family, he found comfort in Hepburn company. As strong as their bond was, the two never admitted they were together publically. “It was a unique feeling I had for [Tracy].  I loved [him]. … I would have done anything for him,” Hepburn wrote in her autobiography. Keeping his relationship away from the limelight wasn’t the only personal issue he was dealing with. Tracy was battling some inner demons like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and alcoholism. But Hepburn, who once described him as a “tortured” was always by his side.

Like any other Hollywood couple, Tracy and Hepburn dealt with their share of rumours. There were speculations about the two that suggested that their relationship was a cover and the two were never really romantically involved with each other. In a documentary released a few years back, a 95-year-old Hollywood personality named Scotty Bowers reportedly stated that Hepburn and Tracy's affair never existed. Bowers claimed that the two were very good friends and acted as if they were together to hide the truth about their sexual preferences.

Bowers asserted that the two actors were in the closet. Hepburn was a lesbian and Tracy was bisexual. Bowers stated that he fixed the actress up with more than 150 women over nearly 40 years. Meanwhile, he stated that he actually had a sexual relationship with Tracy. It was also speculated that Tracy was dealing with mental health issues because his sexual preference contradicted his religious beliefs. And somehow, he could never get over the guilt. 

Despite the speculations that followed them everywhere, Tracy and Hepburn stayed by each other’s side. They kept their relationship away from the paparazzi until the very end. When Tracy when passed away in 1967, Hepburn did not attend his funeral out of respect for his family. And even after he dies, she never spoke about their relationship. It was after Tracy's wife Louise passed away in 1983, that Hepburn detailed her romance with the love of her life. 

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