Date of Birth 12 May 1907, Hartford, Connecticut, USA Date of Death 29 June 2003, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, USA (natural causes) Birth Name Katharine Houghton Hepburn Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m) Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn, a successful urologist from Virginia, and Katharine Martha Houghton, a suffragette and birth control advocate, who, along with Margaret Sanger, helped to found the organization that became Planned Parenthood. Hepburn's father was a staunch proponent of publicizing the dangers of venereal disease in a time when such things were not discussed, and her mother campaigned for birth control and equal rights for women. The Hepburns demanded frequent familial discussions on these topics and more, and as a result the Hepburn children were well versed in social and political issues. The Hepburn children were never asked to leave a room no matter what the topic of conversation was. Once a very young Katharine Hepburn even accompanied her mother to a suffrage rally. The Hepburn children, at their parents' encouragement, were unafraid of expressing frank views on various topics, including sex. "We were snubbed by everyone, but we grew quite to enjoy that," Hepburn later said of her unabashedly liberal family, who she credited with giving her a sense of adventure and independence. Her father insisted that his children be athletic, and encouraged swimming, riding, golf and tennis. Hepburn, eager to please her father, emerged as a fine athlete in her late teens, winning a bronze medal for figure skating from the Madison Square Garden skating club, shooting golf in the low eighties, and reaching the semifinal of the Connecticut Young Women's Golf Championship. Hepburn especially enjoyed swimming, and regularly took dips in the frigid waters that fronted her bayfront Connecticut home, generally believing that "the bitterer the medicine, the better it was for you." She continued her brisk swims well into her 80s. Hepburn would come to be recognized for her athletic physicality — she fearlessly performed her own pratfalls in films such as Bringing up Baby, which is now held up as an exemplar of screwball comedy. When Hepburn was young, she found her older brother Tom, whom she idolized, hanging from the rafters by a rope, dead of an apparent suicide. Her family denied that it was self-inflicted, arguing that he had been a happy boy; rather, they insisted that it must have been an experimentation gone awry. It has also been speculated that the boy was trying to carry out a trick that his father had taught him. Hepburn was devastated by his death and sank into a depression. She shied away from children her own age and was mostly schooled at home. For many years she used Tom's birthday (November 8) as her own. It was not until she wrote her autobiography, Me: Stories of my Life, that Hepburn revealed her true birth date. She was educated at the Kingswood-Oxford School before going on to attend Bryn Mawr College, receiving a degree in history and philosophy in 1928, the same year she had her debut on Broadway after landing a bit part in Night Hostess. A banner year for Hepburn, 1928 also marked her nuptials to socialite businessman Ludlow ("Luddy") Ogden Smith, whom she had met while attending Bryn Mawr and married after a short engagement. Hepburn and Smith's marriage was rocky from the start — she insisted he change his name to S. Ogden Ludlow so she would not be confused with well-known musician Kate Smith. They were divorced in Mexico in 1934. Fearing that the Mexican divorce was not legal, Ludlow got a second divorce in the United States in 1942 and a few days later he remarried. Although their marriage was a failure, Katharine Hepburn often expressed her gratitude toward Ludlow for his financial and moral support in the early days of her career. "Luddy" continued to be a lifelong friend to her and the Hepburn family. On September 21, 1938, Hepburn was staying in her Old Saybrook, Connecticut home when the 1938 New England Hurricane struck and destroyed her house. Hepburn narrowly escaped before the home was washed away.