Katharine Houghton (born Katharine Houghton Grant; March 10, 1945) is an American actress and playwright. She portrayed Joanna "Joey" Drayton, a white American woman who brings home her black American 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, in real life, Houghton's aunt.
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, the great Connecticut suffragist and reformer Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn. Her aunt, Katharine Hepburn, was instrumental in helping Houghton launch her career. The acting torch was further passed along in the family to actress Schuyler Grant, Houghton's niece.
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.
She has appeared in The Last Airbender, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, in 2010.
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 and has translated the works of others for the stage, as well as writing her own plays. Eleven of her plays have been produced. Her play Buddha was published in Best Short Plays of 1988. Her musical Bookends premiered at NJ Rep Co. 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 currently being redeveloped.
In 1975, Houghton wrote for her significant other, actor/writer Ken Jenkins, a children's story, "The Wizard's Daughter," which is collected in the book, Two Beastly Tales, illustrated by Joan Patchen, her husband's first wife.
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
- The Gardener (1974)
- The Eyes of the Amaryllis (1982)
- Mr. North (1988)
- Billy Bathgate (1991)
- Ethan Frome (1993)
- The Night We Never Met (1993)
- Let It Be Me (1995)
- Kinsey (2004)
- The Last Airbender (2010)