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 ninth among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor in all, winning two.
While in college, Tracy decided on acting as a career. He studied acting in New York and appeared in a number of Broadway plays, finally achieving success 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.
Tracy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the second son of John Edward Tracy, an Irish American Catholic truck salesman, and Caroline Brown, a Protestant turned Christian Scientist. He was raised a Roman Catholic. 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 East High School in 1915 and St. John's Cathedral School for boys in Milwaukee the following year. The Tracy family then moved to Kansas City, where Spencer was enrolled at St. Mary's College, Kansas, a boarding school in St. Marys, Kansas 30 miles west of Topeka, Kansas, then transferred to Rockhurst, a Jesuit academy in Kansas City, Missouri. 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 Academy, 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 Yard, 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, Wisconsin. 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.
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