Spencer Tracy Was Kind of a Dick

"When Tracy won Best Actor for his turn in Captains Courageous in 1938, he was unable to attend the ceremony. MGM said he was recovering from a hernia, which was the 1940s way of saying 'hospitalized for exhaustion,' if you’re picking up what I’m putting down. The studio arranged for Tracy’s wife to accept the award in his stead, as a gesture towards the supposed strength of their marriage. With all the audience fully aware of how Tracy had neglected and mistreated her, Mrs. Tracy walked the stage. But the Academy had a sense of humor: the award was inscribed not to Spencer, but to Dick Tracy. ROUGH. MGM would periodically force Tracy to 'dry out' after massive benders — not out of kindness, but so that they could force him to do his next film. During this period, he was living at the Beverly Wilshire and constantly on the prowl — one MGM exec purportedly claimed that 'No one gets more sex than Spencer Tracy.....except Joan Crawford.'" [The Hairpin]


  • Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halstonaal says:

    I wonder if we pump up the status of the jilted wife / woman some, renew it as an important componant of our social milieu/infrastructure, something archetypal, foundational, expected and essential, guys will feel not just more free but near obligated to screw around (we're going to need something: especially with the traditional working class, women are finding it easier to hold onto jobs than men, and so men's relationship to their wives will increasingly be as boys to mothers). Each partaking sullies the cad and adds to the noble stature of the one neglected: guys will play out the part that ultimately deligitimizes them, and so a social enabler for near essential behavior (i.e., cheating; fleeing the mother-wife) is enacted. When Tracy's wife stepped on stage to accept her husband's Oscar, I wonder if the audience encountered her as something biblical, somehow holy, even if also partaking of the distortedness and repellency of the Catholic gargoyle.

  • j'accuse! says:

    I wish I knew less about him now. Le sigh...

  • She would not give him a divorce even though he was unhappy in the marriage. You win, Mrs. Tracy, and the big prize is a bitter drunk of a husband...

    • Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston says:

      You may be entirely right about Mrs. Tracy, but I would say that these days it might more play out like as if Spencer was in a good spot, not a bad one. What you're seeing in contemporary films, at least, is men finding something gifted to them when they can make their partner seem introvertably at least a little more in the wrong than themselves. Descendants, where the wife cheats; and though this seems to give Clooney's character not much more than the allowance to be aggrieved and to not have to obligate himself a strong woman along into his patrician's-life paradise, if sullies her enough to give the filmmaker permission to use the victimized wife as a knife to verbally stab violence onto her. Also Wanderlust, where the wife free-sexes and the husband ultimately doesn't; and though this doesn't play out with him finding some way to justifiably revenge himself upon her or culivate for himself some purity, it does feel like with this done, and with his "withholding," with their switching traditional roles that we know would totally condemn the male involved, he's tilted some power to his side of the relationship.