Tracy, Spencer

Tracy, Spencer

▪ American actor
in full  Spencer Bonaventure Tracy  
born , April 5, 1900, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
died June 10, 1967, Beverly Hills, California
 rough-hewn American film star who was one of Hollywood's greatest male leads and the first actor to receive two consecutive Academy Awards for best actor.

      As a youth Tracy was bored by schoolwork and joined the navy at age 17. Despite his distaste for academics, he eventually became a premed student at Wisconsin's Ripon College. While there, he auditioned for and won a role in the commencement play and discovered acting to be more to his liking than medicine. In 1922 he went to New York, where he and his friend Pat O'Brien enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. That same year, both men made their joint Broadway debut, playing bit roles as robots in Karel Čapek's R.U.R. For the next eight years, Tracy bounced between featured parts in short-running Broadway plays and leading roles in regional stock companies, finally achieving stardom when he was cast as death-row inmate Killer Mears in the 1930 Broadway hit The Last Mile. He subsequently appeared in two Vitaphone short subjects, but he was displeased with himself and pessimistic about his chances for screen stardom.

      Nevertheless, director John Ford hired Tracy to star in the 1930 feature film Up the River, which resulted in a five-year stay at Fox Studios in Hollywood. Although few of his Fox films were memorable—excepting perhaps Me and My Gal (1932), 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932), and The Power and the Glory (1933)—his tenure at the studio enabled him to develop his uncanny ability to act without ever appearing to be acting. His friend Humphrey Bogart once attempted to describe the elusive Tracy technique: “[You] don't see the mechanism working, the wheels turning. He covers up. He never overacts or is hammy. He makes you believe what he is playing.” For his part, Tracy always denied that he had come up with any sort of magic formula. Whenever he was asked the secret of great acting, he usually snapped, “Learn your lines!”

 In 1935 he was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he would do some of his best work, beginning with his harrowing performance as a lynch-mob survivor in Fritz Lang's Fury (1936). He received his first of nine Oscar nominations for San Francisco (1936) and became the first actor to win two consecutive Academy Awards, for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938). In the course of his two decades at MGM he settled gracefully into character leads, conveying everything from paternal bemusement in Father of the Bride (1950) to grim determination in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). In later years his health was eroded by respiratory ailments and a lifelong struggle with alcoholism, but Tracy worked into the early 1960s, delivering exceptionally powerful performances in producer-director Stanley Kramer's Inherit the Wind (1960) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).

 Married since 1923 to former actress Louise Treadwell, Tracy lived apart from his wife throughout most of their marriage, though as a strict Catholic he refused to consider divorce. From 1942 onward, he maintained a warm, intimate relationship with actress Katharine Hepburn (Hepburn, Katharine). Tracy and Hepburn were also memorably teamed in nine films, including Woman of the Year (1942), Adam's Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952), The Desk Set (1957), and Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), which was completed three weeks before Tracy's death.

Additional Reading
Donald Deschner, The Films of Spencer Tracy (1968, reissued 1972); Bill Davidson, Spencer Tracy: Tragic Idol (1987, reprinted 1992); James Fisher, Spencer Tracy: A Bio-Bibliography (1994).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tracy,Spencer — Tracy, Spencer. 1900 1967. American actor known for his film partnership with Katharine Hepburn and for his Academy Award winning performances in Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938). * * * …   Universalium

  • Tracy, Spencer — pseud. di Tracy, Spencer Bonaventure …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Tracy, Spencer Bonaventure — vero nome di Tracy, Spencer …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

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  • Tracy, Spencer — (1900 1967)    Born in Milwaukee, Spencer Bonaventura Tracy spent time in the Navy during World War I, after which he attended Ripon College where, at the suggestion of one of his professors, he decamped for New York to enter the American Academy …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

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  • Tracy, Spencer (Bonaventure) — born , April 5, 1900, Milwaukee, Wis., U.S. died June 10, 1967, Beverly Hills, Calif. U.S. film actor. He enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1922 and was soon earning roles on Broadway. He first starred on… …   Universalium

  • Tracy, Spencer (Bonaventure) — (5 abr. 1900, Milwaukee, Wis., EE.UU.–10 jun. 1967, Beverly Hills, Cal.). Actor de cine estadounidense. En 1922 ingresó a la Academy of Dramatic Arts en Nueva York, y sus primeros papeles en Broadway no tardaron en llegar. Su debut protagónico en …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Tracy — (also spelled Tracey or Traci), originally place name of Normandy : *Thraciacum , male s name Thracius + Celtic suffix ako (property), could refer to:PlacesUnited States *Tracy, California **Tracy Municipal Airport **Deuel Vocational Institution …   Wikipedia

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