Katharine Houghton

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Katharine Houghton
Houghton as a guest star on Judd, for the Defense, 1968
Katharine Houghton Grant

(1945-03-10) March 10, 1945 (age 78)
Alma materSarah Lawrence College
Occupation(s)Actress, playwright
Years active1966–present
(m. 1970)
Parent(s)Ellsworth Grant
Marion Hepburn
RelativesKatharine Martha Houghton Hepburn (grandmother)
Katharine Hepburn (aunt)
Schuyler Grant (niece)

Katharine Houghton (born Katharine Houghton Grant; March 10, 1945) is an American actress and playwright. She portrayed Joanna "Joey" Drayton, a white woman who brings home her black fiancé to meet her parents, in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Katharine Hepburn, who played the mother of Houghton's character in the film, was Houghton's aunt. She is also known for her role as Kanna, Katara and Sokka’s grandmother in the film The Last Airbender (2010).

Early life[edit]

Houghton was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the second child of Marion Hepburn and Ellsworth Grant. She attended Kingswood-Oxford School and Sarah Lawrence College, where she majored in philosophy and art. Houghton was named after her maternal grandmother, Connecticut suffragist and reformer Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn.

Her aunt, Katharine Hepburn, was instrumental in helping Houghton launch her career. The acting torch was later carried by Houghton's niece, actress Schuyler Grant.



Houghton has played leading roles in over 60 productions on Broadway, off-Broadway and in regional theatres across America. She won the Theatre World Award for her performance in A Scent of Flowers off Broadway in 1969.[2]

Houghton has presented lectures at venues across the country including the 2001 Fall Concert & Lectures Series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at The Cosmopolitan Club. She lectured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art again in June 2008, presenting "Saucy Gamine, Reluctant Penitent, and Glorious Victor", a review of her aunt's career in Hollywood as reflected in three of her films.


Houghton is also a playwright. In addition to writing her own plays, she has completed translations of others' works.[3] Eleven of her plays have been produced.

Her play Buddha was published in Best Short Plays of 1988. Her musical Bookends premiered at the New Jersey Repertory Company in summer of 2007, received rave notices, and garnered the theater the highest box office sales in their 11-year history. Since then it has twice been part of The York Theatre's Developmental Reading Series and is being redeveloped.[citation needed]

In 1975, Houghton wrote a children's story, "The Wizard's Daughter", which is collected in the book Two Beastly Tales, illustrated by Joan Patchen. The second story in the book is written by JB Grant, Houghton's elder brother.



Year Title Role Notes
1967 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Joanna 'Joey' Drayton
1974 The Gardener Ellen Bennett
1982 The Eyes of the Amaryllis
1988 Mr. North Mrs. Skeel
1991 Billy Bathgate Charlotte
1993 Ethan Frome Mrs. Hale
1993 The Night We Never Met Less / More Cheese Lady
1995 Let It Be Me Homeless Woman
2004 Kinsey Mrs. Spaulding
2010 The Last Airbender Kanna - Katara and Sokka's Grandmother


Year Title Role Notes
1966 ABC Stage 67 Bonnie "The Confession"
1966 Hawk Ophelia "How Close Can You Get?"
1968 Judd, for the Defense Suzy Thurston "In a Puff of Smoke"
1974 CBS Daytime 90 Gabby "Legacy of Fear"
1976 The Adams Chronicles Abigail Adams Smith TV miniseries
1981 ABC Afterschool Special Miss James "The Color of Friendship"
1987 I'll Take Manhattan Pepper Delafield TV miniseries
2017 Mr. Mercedes Elizabeth Wharton "Cloudy, with a Chance of Mayhem", "The Suicide Hour"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ken Jenkins". November 24, 2015.
  2. ^ "Katharine Houghton". playbillvault.com. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  3. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (August 1, 2007). "A Writer Finds the Rare Lives of Two Rare-Book Dealers Worth Singing About". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.

External links[edit]