Tracy was considered by many to be the finest actor in films. Elizabeth Taylor has said: "His acting seemed almost effortless, it seemed almost as if he wasn't doing anything, and yet he was doing everything. It came so subtly out of his eyes, every muscle in his face - he was a film actor."  And Richard Widmark: "It's what every actor tries to strive for - to make it so simple, so real that anybody in the audience can say, 'Oh, I could do that' -  if you can ever achieve that kind of grace in acting you're on the way. And Tracy did it from the very beginning."

Tracy was a complex and difficult man. Even the person who perhaps knew him best, Katharine Hepburn, was never able to fathom the "demons" that seemed to drive him.  In a 1986 documentary, "The Spencer Tracy Legacy", Hepburn shared a letter she had written to him eighteen years after his death:
 

"Living wasn't easy for you, was it?  What did you like to do? Sailing - especially in stormy weather. You loved polo, but tennis, golf, swimming - no, not really.  Walking - no, that didn't suit you - that was one of those things where you could think at the same time. Of this, of that...of what, Spence, what was it?  Was it some specific thing, like being a Catholic and you felt a bad Catholic? You concentrated on all the bad, none of the good which your religion offered. It must've been something very fundamental, very ever-present. And the incredible fact that there you were, really the greatest movie actor - you could do it, and you could do it with that glorious simplicity, that directness.  You couldn't enter your own life, but you could be someone else.  You were the character in a moment, you hardly had to study - what a relief, you could be someone else for awhile, you weren't you, you were safe.  And then back to life's trials: 'Oh, hell, take a drink. Yes. No. Maybe.' And then stop taking those drinks - you were great at that, Spence, you could just stop.  How I respected you for that - very unusual.  But why the escape hatch? Why was it always open?  To get away from the remarkable you.  I always meant to ask you. Did you know what it was?  Are you having a long rest after all your tossing and turning in life? Are you happy finally?"




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Opening | Introduction | Biography 1 | Films | Tracy&Hepburn | Gallery