I’ve never been able to precisely characterize Spencer Tracy’s persona. You know, Marlon Brando = rebel…Tom Hanks = guy next door…John Wayne = hero. Spencer Tracy’s characters were usually strong, moral, self-assured. He made me root for him in almost every film. But I never felt like I knew him.
Tracy is one of only two actors to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in two consecutive years. (Tom Hanks – Great American Things, June 8, 2009 – was the other.) Tracy won for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938).
Some of his best work was done with Katharine Hepburn (Great American Things, December 26, 2009). They made nine films together, and had a lifelong love affair that was somewhat tempestuous – not unlike some of their movie roles.
Among Spencer Tracy’s best performances are:
Captains Courageous (1937 – Best Actor) • Boys Town (1938 – Best Actor) • Woman of the Year (1942) • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) • Adam’s Rib (1949) • Father of the Bride (1950 – Nomination) • Pat and Mike (1952) • Bad Day at Black Rock (1955 – Nomination) • The Old Man and the Sea (1958 – Nomination) • Inherit the Wind (1960 – Nomination) • Judgment at Nuremberg (1961 – Nomination) • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967 – Nomination)
Entertainment Weekly named him the 15th greatest movie star of all time, and he is the ninth greatest movie star of all time according to the American Film Institute.