Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American actor, known for his natural performing style and versatility. One of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, Tracy won two Academy Awards for Best Actor from nine nominations, sharing the record for nominations in the category with Laurence Olivier.
Tracy first discovered his talent for acting while attending Ripon College, and he 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. His breakthrough came in 1930, when his lead performance in The Last Mile caught the attention of Hollywood. After a successful film debut in John Ford's Up the River in which he starred (and which also featured Humphrey Bogart), he was signed to a contract with Fox Film Corporation. Tracy's five years with Fox featured one acting tour de force after another that were usually ignored at the box office, and he remained largely unknown to audiences after 25 films, almost all of them starring him as the leading man. None of them were hits, although his performance in The Power and the Glory (1933) was praised at the time.
In 1935, he joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, at the time Hollywood's most prestigious studio. His career flourished from Fury (1936) onwards, and in 1937 and 1938 he won consecutive Oscars for Captains Courageous and Boys Town. He made three box-office successes supporting Clark Gable, the studio's most prominent leading man, so that by the early 1940s Tracy was one of the studio's top stars. In 1942, he appeared with Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year, beginning another partnership, which led to nine movies over 25 years.
Tracy left MGM in 1955, and continued to work regularly as a freelance star, despite an increasing weariness as he aged. His personal life was troubled, with a lifelong struggle against severe alcoholism and guilt over his son's deafness. Tracy became estranged from his wife in the 1930s, but the couple never divorced; he conducted a long-term relationship with Katharine Hepburn in private. Towards the end of his life, Tracy worked almost exclusively for director Stanley Kramer. It was for Kramer that he made his last film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), completed just 17 days before he died.
During his career, Tracy appeared in 75 films and developed a reputation among his peers as one of the screen's greatest actors. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy as the 9th greatest male star of Classic Hollywood Cinema.