Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was born on April 5, 1900, he was an American actor. Tracy discovered his talent for acting while attending Ripon College, and later received a scholarship for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He spent seven years in the theatre, working in a succession of stock companies and intermittently on Broadway.
Tracy’s breakthrough came in 1930, when his lead performance in The Last Mile caught the attention of Hollywood. After a successful film debut in Up the River, Tracy was signed to a contract with Fox Film Corporation.
His five years with Fox were unremarkable, and he remained largely unknown to audiences after 25 films. In November 1923 he landed a small part on Broadway in the comedy A Royal Fandango, starring Ethel Barrymore.
Reviews for the show were poor and it closed after 25 performances; Tracy later said of the failure, “My ego took an awful beating.” When he took a position with a struggling company in New Jersey, Tracy was living on an allowance of 35 cents a day.
In mid-1932, after nine pictures, Tracy remained virtually unknown to the public. He considered leaving Fox once his contract was up for renewal, but a rise in his weekly rate to $1,500 convinced him to stay.He continued to appear in unpopular films, with Me and My Gal (1932) setting an all time low attendance record for the Roxy Theatre in New York City.
Tracy drank heavily during his years with Fox, and gained a reputation as an alcoholic. He failed to report for filming on Marie Galante in June 1934, and was found in his hotel room, virtually unconscious after a two-week binge.
In 1937, Tracy achieved both commercial and critical success with Captains Courageous. Audiences and critics alike praised his performance as a Portuguese fisherman, and the film brought him his first Academy Award. Tracy picked up another Academy Award the following year for his portrayal of Father Flanagan in Boys Town.
His long-time relationship with Katharine Hepburn was an open secret and is now a Hollywood legend Tracy remained married to his wife during his affair with Hepburn, yet the gossip sheets steered clear of the story.
In his later years, Tracy reportedly became moody and difficult and suffered from health problems, all of which affected his ability to work. In 1967, Tracy filmed his last movie, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which also starred Hepburn and actor Sidney Poitier.
The movie explored the subject of interracial dating. Shortly after the filming was complete, Tracy died of a heart attack on June 10, 1967, at his home in Beverly Hills, California.
As of 2009, he is only one of six performers who won a Golden Globe Award as Best Lead Actor or Actress in a Motion Picture Drama without being nominated for an Oscar for that same role (for The Actress (1953)).
The others are Anthony Franciosa in Career (1959), Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago (1965), Shirley MacLaine in Madame Sousatzka (1988), Jim Carrey in The Truman Show (1998) and Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road (2008).