Year
1967

Hepburn, Tracy and Poitier star in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

On this day in 1967, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, a groundbreaking movie about an interracial romantic relationship starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton, opens in theaters.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner followed the story of a young white woman (Houghton) who brings her fiance (Poitier), an African-American doctor, home to meet her parents, played by Hepburn and Tracy in their last film together. (Off-screen, the couple had a long romance, although Tracy was married to another woman. He died on June 10, 1967, a short time after the movie wrapped.) Directed by Stanley Kramer, who was known for his “message” films–including Inherit the Wind (about the Scopes “monkey” trial) and Judgment at Nuremberg (about Nazi crimes during World War II)–Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner examines the reactions of the young couple’s various family members and friends to their relationship. Until the landmark 1967 civil-rights case Loving vs. Virginia, which was decided just five months before Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was released, marriage between blacks and whites was still illegal in parts of America, and Kramer’s film was notable for its willingness to tackle this taboo topic. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and collected two Oscars, including Best Actress for Hepburn, the second of her career.

Hepburn (1907-2003) won four Academy Awards (out of 12 total nominations) over the course of her long career, more than any other actress. She collected her first Best Actress Oscar for 1933’s Morning Glory, with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and went on to earn Best Actress Oscar nominations for Alice Adams (1935), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Woman of the Year (1942), which marked her first movie with Spencer Tracy, The African Queen (1951), Summertime (1955), The Rainmaker (1956), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962). The legendary screen star followed her Oscar win for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Best Actress golden statues for The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981). Her final feature film was 1994’s Love Affair, with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening.

Sidney Poitier, born on February 27, 1927, earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for 1958’s The Defiant Ones, directed by Stanley Kramer and co-starring Tony Curtis and Theodore Bikel. For his performance as a handyman who builds a chapel for a group of German nuns in 1963’s Lilies of the Field, he became the first black man ever to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. Among Poitier’s other well-known films are To Sir, With Love (1967) and In the Heat of the Night (1967).

Spencer Tracy (1900-1967) took home his first Best Actor Oscar for 1937’s Captains Courageous, having been previously nominated in the category for 1936’s San Francisco. He won again for 1938’s Boys Town and went on to earn nominations for Father of the Bride (1950), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), The Old Man and the Sea (1958), Inherit the Wind (1960) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). Tracy received his ninth and final Best Actor Oscar nomination for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Mona Lisa recovered in Florence

Two years after it was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Mona Lisa is recovered inside Italian waiter Vincenzo Peruggia’s hotel room in Florence. Peruggia had previously worked at the Louvre and had participated in the heist with a group ...read more

USS Panay sunk by Japanese

During the battle for Nanking in the Sino-Japanese War, the U.S. gunboat Panay is attacked and sunk by Japanese warplanes in Chinese waters. The American vessel, neutral in the Chinese-Japanese conflict, was escorting U.S. evacuees and three Standard Oil barges away from Nanking, ...read more

Father Flanagan establishes Boys Town

In Omaha, Nebraska, Father Edward J. Flanagan, a 31-year-old Irish priest, opens the doors to a home for troubled and neglected children, and six boys enter to seek a better life. Flanagan, who previously ran the Workingmen’s Hotel, a haven for down-and-out workers in Omaha, ...read more

GM announces phase-out of Oldsmobile

On this day in 2000, General Motors declares that it will begin to phase out the 103-year-old Oldsmobile, the oldest automotive brand in the United States. Oldsmobile had once been one of the most venerable and innovative American brands–Olds cars were the first to have ...read more

Da Vinci notebook sells for over 5 million

On this day in 1980, American oil tycoon Armand Hammer pays $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci.The manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety ...read more

Philippine soldiers depart South Vietnam

The Philippine Civic Action Group, a 1,350-man contingent from the Army of the Philippines, departs South Vietnam.The contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By ...read more

JFK memorial album sets record for sales

On this day in 1963, a vinyl long-playing record (“LP”) called John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Memorial Album sets a record for album sales. A total of 4 million copies sold in the first six days of its release.The album, released on the Premier label, included recordings of some of ...read more

Cattle pioneer Charles Goodnight dies

Charles Goodnight, co-founder of one of the most important southwestern cattle-drive trails, dies on this day. He was 93 years old.Born in Illinois in 1836, Goodnight came to Texas with his family when he was nine years old, and he thrived in the rugged frontier environment. His ...read more

Flaubert is born

French novelist Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, is born on this day in 1821 in Rouen, France.Flaubert, the son of the chief surgeon of the hospital in Rouen, France, began writing stories in his teens. In 1840, he went to Paris to study law but failed his exams. Three ...read more

French soldiers killed in train accident

More than 500 French soldiers are killed when their train derails in Modane, France, on this day in 1917. The troops were returning from fighting World War I in Italy. There was ample warning that the conditions were dangerous, but the French officers ignored the expert advice ...read more

The Queen of Mean is sentenced to the slammer

Leona Helmsley, nicknamed the “Queen of Mean” by the press, receives a four-year prison sentence, 750 hours of community service, and a $7.1 million tax fraud fine in New York. For many, Helmsley became the object of loathing and disgust when she quipped that “only the little ...read more

A young murderer is indicted

Fourteen-year-old Michael Carneal is indicted as an adult on three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder for the shooting of his classmates at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky. On December 1, Carneal pulled out a pistol and fired 11 shots into a group of ...read more

Stand Watie born

On this day in 1806, Confederate General Stand Watie is born near Rome, Georgia. Watie, a Cherokee Indian, survived the tribe’s Trail of Tears in the 1830s and became the only Native American to achieve the rank of general during the Civil War.Watie came from an influential ...read more