Name at birth: Spencer Bonaventure Tracy
Spencer Tracy was one of Hollywood's biggest stars from the 1930s through the 1960s, and the first actor to win consecutive Oscars for Best Actor (for 1937's Captains Courageous and 1938's Boys Town). Tracy grew up in Wisconsin, where he attended Ripon College. In the early 1920s he struck out for New York City to make it as an actor. He studied at the Academy of Dramatic Arts and managed to get a few small roles, but didn't get his big break until 1930. His performance in the play The Last Mile impressed John Ford, who brought Tracy to Hollywood and the movies. Although not especially handsome, his naturalistic style and simple earnestness made him a favorite of actors and audiences. He earned his first Oscar nomination for San Francisco (1936) and his ninth nomination for his final film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1968, with Sidney Poitier).
His longtime 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. Tracy and Hepburn also had a successful working relationship and made nine films together, from Woman of the Year (1942) to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. His other films include: Adam's Rib (1949); Father of the Bride (1950, with Elizabeth Taylor); Bad Day at Black Rock (1955, with Lee Marvin); The Old Man and the Sea (1958); Judgment at Nuremberg (1961, with Burt Lancaster); and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963).