Considered one of the greatest actors of Hollywood's Golden Age, Spencer Tracy gave each character he played a life whether it was subtle humor in Father of the Bride, gripping drama in Bad Day at Black Rock, or whip-smart heart in Adam's Rib. On and off the screen, he was adored and revered for his talent and personality. Below, his friends and co-stars remember the film giant.
1. Lee Marvin
"First day was an absolute shock... I was paralyzed. I didn't think he was that good, but he was. He had such a presence, and an unmoving concentration that was overwhelming…I don't think you're ever the same after you've worked with Tracy.”
Read about Bad Day at Black Rock here.
2. Elizabeth Taylor
“He had a stillness, a quietness about him that spoke more than volumes, and it just was mesmerizing. He could play anything, any role and he just drew you in… He was ‘pops’ and I was ‘kitten’ and, we kept those names until the day he died.”
Read about The Father of the Bride here.
3. Sidney Poitier
''Spencer Tracy the actor had captured my allegiance years before I ever met Spencer Tracy the person. 'Without question, Tracy's career could serve as a textbook for the craft… When I had sequences with him, I couldn’t work. I was awestruck actually – simple as that. But there was an inspiration from him to me as I watched him.”
Read about Guess Who's Coming to Dinner here.
4. Mickey Rooney
“When he talked to you he looked directly into your eyes, and he talked only to you. That's the mark of a good actor -- of listening to the scene, listening to what you're saying and then bouncing back to you for the remainder of the dialogue of the scene.”
5. Laurence Olivier
“I’ve learned more about acting watching Tracy than in any other way. He has a great truth in everything he does.”
6. Angela Lansbury
“His greatness as an actor had a lot to do with his own persona. He had an extraordinary understanding of the common man, which he was, and which he always played… He understood the person he enacted, had a brilliant knowledge of all his reactions – and never let his own personal demons intrude on the character.”
7. Clark Gable
“He mesmerizes you. Those eyes of his – and what goes on behind them. The guys good and there’s nobody in the business who can touch him, so you’re a fool to try. Whenever I’m asked what my definition of a professional is in our business, I can tell ‘em to go talk to Spence.”
8. Joan Bennett
“Everything he did seemed so natural and simple; he could strike the right emotional chord without straining… He always came to the set with his lines letter perfect and saw no real reason to rehearse, fearing it would rob his performance of spontaneity… The truth of the scene occurred at the very moment he spoke.”
9. Burt Reynolds
“He always said, “Less is more on the screen. Most actors never learn how much gold is in a scene just by listening.’ I could never catch Tracy acting. You don’t see the work. He simply is on screen.”
10. Katharine Hepburn
''Spencer was a real baked potato… a great actor. Simple. Never overdone. Unguarded. He could make you laugh. He could make you cry…. You might think I’m prejudiced, but Spencer was in a class all by himself… Pure, of the earth, and is dependable -- that was Spencer.”
Read about Adam's Rib here.