born Audrey Kathleen Ruston;
4 May 1929 - 20 January 1993) was
a British actress and humanitarian.
Recognised as a film and fashion
icon, Hepburn was active during
Golden Age. She was ranked by
Film Institute as the third
female screen legend in the
history of American
cinema and has been placed in
Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.
She is also regarded by some to
be the most naturally beautiful
woman of all time.
a district of Brussels, Hepburn
spent her childhood between Belgium,
England and the Netherlands, including
during the Second World War. In
Amsterdam, she studied ballet with
Gaskell before moving to London
in 1948 to continue her ballet training
Rambert and perform as a chorus
girl in West End musical theatre
productions. She spoke several languages
appearing in several British films
and starring in the 1951 Broadway
Hepburn played the lead role in
Holiday (1953), for which
she was the first actress to win
Award, a Golden Globe and a
BAFTA Award for a single performance.
The same year, she won a Tony
Award for Best
Lead Actress in a Play for Ondine.
She went on to star in a number
of successful films, such as Sabrina
Nun's Story (1959), Breakfast
at Tiffany's (1961), Charade
Fair Lady (1964) and Wait
Until Dark (1967), for which
she received Academy Award, Golden
Globe and BAFTA
nominations. Hepburn remains one
of few people who
have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy,
and Tony Awards. She won a record
Awards for Best
British Actress in a Leading Role.
appeared in fewer films as her life
went on, devoting much of her later
life to UNICEF.
Although contributing to the organisation
since 1954, she worked in some of
the most profoundly disadvantaged
communities of Africa, South America
and Asia between 1988 and 1992.
She was awarded the Presidential
Medal of Freedom in recognition
of her work as a UNICEF
Goodwill Ambassador in December
1992. A month later, Hepburn died
cancer at her home in Switzerland
at the age of 63.
She was not related to actress Katharine
Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen
Ruston on 4 May 1929 at number
48 Rue Keyenveld in Ixelles,
a municipality in Brussels,
Belgium. Her father, Joseph Victor
Anthony Ruston (1889-1980), was
a British subject born in Úžice,
to Anna Ruston (nee Wels), of Austrian
descent, and Victor John George
Ruston, of British and Austrian
descent. A one-time honorary British
consul in the Dutch
East Indies, Ruston had earlier
been married to Cornelia Bisschop,
a Dutch heiress. Although born Ruston,
he later double-barrelled
the surname to the more "aristocratic"
Hepburn-Ruston, mistakenly believing
himself descended from James
Hepburn, third husband of Mary,
Queen of Scots.
mother, Baroness Ella
van Heemstra (1900-1984), was
a Dutch aristocrat
and the daughter of Baron Aarnoud
van Heemstra, who was mayor
from 1910 to 1920 and served as
Governor of Dutch
Suriname from 1921 to 1928.
Ella's mother was Elbrig Willemine
Henriette, Baroness van Asbeck (1873-1939),
who was a granddaughter of jurist
At age nineteen, Ella had married
(Esquire) Hendrik Gustaaf Adolf
Quarles van Ufford, but they divorced
in 1925. Hepburn had two half-brothers
from this marriage who were both
born in the Dutch East Indies: Jonkheer
Arnoud Robert Alexander Quarles
van Ufford (1920-1979) and Jonkheer
Ian Edgar Bruce Quarles van Ufford
Ella, Baroness van Heemstra, was
named Dame of the Most
Venerable Order of the Hospital
of Saint John of Jerusalem by
Elizabeth II on 7 September
and van Heemstra married in the
Dutch East Indies in September 1926.
They moved back to Europe, to Ixelles
in Belgium, where Hepburn was born
in 1929. In January 1932 the family
moved on to Linkebeek,
a nearby Brussels municipality.
Although born in Belgium, Hepburn
citizenship through her father.
of her mother's family in the Netherlands
and her father's British background
and job with a British company,
the family often travelled among
the three countries. With her multinational
background, she went on to speak
languages; she picked up French,
German, Italian, and Spanish in
addition to her native English and
Dutch. Hepburn participated in ballet
by the age of 5.
and adolescence during World War
parents were members of the British
Union of Fascists in the mid-1930s,
with her father becoming a true
The marriage began to fail from
1935, and after her mother discovered
him in bed with the nanny of her
Hepburn's father left the family
abruptly. Joseph settled in London
following the divorce.
In the 1960s, Hepburn would finally
locate him again in Dublin
through the Red
Cross. Although he remained
emotionally detached, his daughter
remained in contact and supported
him financially until his death.
1937, Ella and Audrey moved to Kent,
South East England, where Hepburn
was educated at a tiny independent
school in Elham,
run by two sisters known as "The
Mesdamoiselles Smith"; the school
was attended by about 14 children.
In September 1939, Britain declared
war on Germany, and Hepburn's mother
relocated with her daughter back
to Arnhem, in the belief that (as
War I) the Netherlands would
remain neutral and be spared a German
attack. Whilst there, Hepburn attended
the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939
to 1945 where, in addition to the
standard school curriculum, she
trained in ballet
with Winja Marova. After the Germans
the Netherlands in 1940, Hepburn
adopted the pseudonym
Edda van Heemstra, because an "English
sounding" name was considered dangerous
during the German
occupation. In 1942, Hepburn's
uncle, Otto van Limburg
Stirum (husband of her mother's
older sister, Miesje), was executed
in retaliation for an act of sabotage
by the resistance movement, while
Hepburn's half brother Ian was deported
to Berlin to work in a German labour
camp. Hepburn's other half-brother
Alex went into hiding to avoid the
this, Ella, Miesje, and Hepburn
moved in with Baron Aarnoud
van Heemstra in nearby Velp.
During her wartime struggles, Hepburn
suffered from malnutrition,
developed acute anemia,
respiratory problems, and edema.
Hepburn, in a retrospective interview,
commented, "I have memories. More
than once I was at the station seeing
trainloads of Jews being transported,
seeing all these faces over the
top of the wagon. I remember, very
sharply, one little boy standing
with his parents on the platform,
very pale, very blond, wearing a
coat that was much too big for him,
and he stepped on to the train.
I was a child observing a child."
1944, Hepburn had become a proficient
ballet dancer. She had secretly
danced for groups of people to collect
money for the Dutch
resistance. "The best audience
I ever had made not a single sound
at the end of my performances",
She also occasionally acted as a
courier for the resistance, delivering
messages and packages. After the
Allied landing on D-Day,
living conditions grew worse and
Arnhem was subsequently devastated
in the fighting during Operation
Market Garden. During the Dutch
famine that followed in the
winter of 1944, the Germans had
blocked the resupply routes of the
Dutch already-limited food and fuel
supplies as retaliation for railway
strikes that were held to hinder
German occupation. People starved
and froze to death in the streets;
Hepburn and many others resorted
to making flour out of tulip bulbs
to bake cakes and biscuits.
One way young Audrey passed the
time was by drawing; some of her
childhood artwork can be seen today.
When the country was liberated,
Nations Relief and Rehabilitation
Administration trucks followed.
Hepburn said in an interview that
she fell ill from putting too much
sugar in her porridge and eating
an entire can of condensed
Hepburn's war-time experiences sparked
her devotion to UNICEF,
an international humanitarian organisation,
in her later career.
beginnings and early roles
the war ended in 1945, Ella and
Audrey moved to Amsterdam,
where Hepburn took ballet lessons
for three years with Sonia
Gaskell, a leading figure in
In 1948, she appeared for the first
time on film, as an air stewardess
in an educational travel film made
by Charles van der Linden and Henry
in Seven Lessons.
She moved to study at the Ballet
Rambert; supporting herself
with part-time work as a model,
and dropping "Ruston" from her surname.
On requesting Rambert's assessment
of her prospects, Hepburn was told
she had talent, but her height and
weak constitution (the after effect
of wartime undernutrition) would
make the status of prima
ballerina unattainable. She
decided to concentrate on acting.
mother worked menial jobs in order
to support them but Hepburn needed
to find employment. Since she had
trained in theatre all her life,
working as a London chorus girl
seemed sensible. "I needed the money;
it paid £3 more than ballet jobs."
She performed in the musical
theatre revues High
Button Shoes (1948) at the
Hippodrome and Cecil Landeau's
Sauce Tartare (1949) and
Sauce Piquante (1950) at
Theatre in the West
End. Through her theatrical
work, she realised her voice was
not strong and needed to be developed;
she therefore took elocution lessons
with the actor Felix
After being spotted by an ABPC
casting director in Sauce Piquante,
Hepburn registered with the British
film studio as a freelance actress
while still working in the West
The unknown Hepburn appeared in
minor roles in the 1951 films One
Wild Oat, Laughter
in Paradise, Young
Wives' Tale and The
Lavender Hill Mob before
playing her first major supporting
role in Thorold
Secret People (1952), in
which she played a prodigious ballerina
and performed all of her own dancing
was then offered a small role in
the film being shot in both English
and French Monte
Carlo Baby (Nous Irons
a Monte Carlo) (1951). While
Hepburn was filming on location,
the French novelist Colette
happened to be on the set, on an
international search for the right
actress to play the title character
in her Broadway play Gigi.
Upon first glance of Hepburn, Colette
supposedly whispered, "Voila", indicating
Hepburn, "there's your Gigi." Hepburn
supplemented her rehearsals with
hours of private coaching. On 24
November 1951, Gigi opened
at the Fulton
Theatre and Hepburn's name was
hoisted above the title of the play
on the theatre marquee. The play
ran for 219 performances, and finished
on 31 May 1952. This debut on Broadway
earned Hepburn a Theatre
World Award. She also reprised
this role in the US tour of the
play which began 13 October 1952
in Pittsburgh and visited Cleveland,
Chicago, Detroit, Washington and
Los Angeles before closing on 16
May 1953 in San Francisco.
Holiday and stardom
the Italian-set Roman
Holiday (1953), Hepburn
had her first starring role as Princess
Anne, an incognito European princess
who, escaping the reins of royalty,
falls in love with an American newsman
Peck). While producers initially
Taylor for the role, director
Wyler was so impressed by Hepburn's
test that he cast her in the
lead. Wyler later commented, "She
had everything I was looking for:
charm, innocence, and talent. She
also was very funny. She was absolutely
enchanting and we said, 'That's
the film was to have had only Gregory
Peck's name above its title, with
"Introducing Audrey Hepburn" beneath
in smaller font. However, Peck suggested
to Wyler that he elevate her to
equal billing so that her name appeared
before the title and in type as
large as his: "You've got to change
that because she'll be a big star
and I'll look like a big jerk."
garnered critical and commercial
acclaim for her portrayal, adding
to her unexpected Academy
Award for Best Actress, her
Award for Best British Actress in
a Leading Role, and only Golden
Globe Award for Best Actress -
Motion Picture Drama in 1953.
In his review in The New York
Times, A. H. Weiler wrote:
she is not precisely a newcomer
to films Audrey Hepburn, the British
actress who is being starred for
the first time as Princess Anne,
is a slender, elfin and wistful
beauty, alternately regal and
childlike in her profound appreciation
of newly-found, simple pleasures
and love. Although she bravely
smiles her acknowledgement of
the end of that affair, she remains
a pitifully lonely figure facing
a stuffy future.
was signed to a seven-picture contract
with 12 months in between films
to allow her time for stage work
while spawning what became known
as the Audrey Hepburn "look" after
her illustration was placed on the
7 September 1953 cover of TIME
her success in Roman Holiday,
she starred in Billy
Wilder's romantic Cinderella-story
(1954), in which wealthy brothers
Bogart and William
Holden) compete for the affections
of their chauffeur's innocent daughter
(Hepburn). For her performance,
she was nominated for the 1954 Academy
Award for Best Actress while winning
the BAFTA Award for Best Actress
in a Leading Role the same year.
Bosley Crowther of The New York
might guess this is Miss Hepburn's
picture, since she has the title
role and has come to it trailing
her triumphs from last year's
"Roman Holiday". And, indeed,
she is wonderful in it—a young
lady of extraordinary range of
sensitive and moving expressions
within such a frail and slender
frame. She is even more luminous
as the daughter and pet of the
servants' hall than she was as
a princess last year, and no more
than that can be said.
began another collaboration that
year, this time with actor Mel
Ferrer, starred in the fantasy
With her lithe and lean frame, Hepburn
made a convincing water spirit named
in this sad story about love found
and lost with a human (Ferrer).
A New York Times critic commented:
Miss Hepburn is able to translate
[its intangibles] into the language
of the theatre without artfulness
or precociousness. She gives a
pulsing performance that is all
grace and enchantment, disciplined
by an instinct for the realities
of the stage.
and Ferrer married on 25 September
1954, in Switzerland; their sometimes
tumultuous partnership would last
for the better part of the next
15 years. Her performance won her
the 1954 Tony
Award for Best Performance by a
Leading Actress in a Play the
same year she won the Academy Award
for Roman Holiday. Hepburn,
therefore, stands as one of three
actresses to receive the Academy
and Tony Awards for Best Actress
in the same year (the other two
Booth and Ellen
received the Golden Globe for World
Film Favorite - Female in 1955,
and also became a major fashion
was asked to play Anne
Frank in both the Broadway
adaptations of Frank's life. Hepburn,
however, who was born the same year
as Frank, found herself "emotionally
incapable" of the task, and at almost
30 years old, too old.
The role was eventually given to
Strasberg and Millie
Perkins in the play and film
Hepburn in War and Peace
become one of Hollywood's most popular
box-office attractions, she went
on to star in a series of successful
films during the remainder of the
decade, including her BAFTA- and
Golden Globe-nominated role as Natasha
Rostova in War
and Peace (1956), an adaptation
of the Tolstoy
novel set during the Napoleonic
wars with Henry
Fonda and husband Mel Ferrer.
In 1957, she exhibited her dancing
abilities in her debut musical
Face (1957) where Fred
Astaire, a fashion photographer,
discovers a beatnik bookstore clerk
(Hepburn), who, lured by a free
trip to Paris, becomes a beautiful
model. The same year Hepburn starred
in another romantic comedy, Love
in the Afternoon, alongside
Cooper and Maurice
played Sister Luke in The
Nun's Story (1959), which
focuses on the character's struggle
to succeed as a nun, alongside co-star
Finch. The role produced a third
Academy Award nomination for Hepburn
and earned her a second BAFTA Award.
A review in Variety read,
"Hepburn has her most demanding
film role, and she gives her finest
performance." Films in Review
stated that her performance "will
forever silence those who have thought
her less an actress than a symbol
of the sophisticated child/woman.
Her portrayal of Sister Luke is
one of the great performances of
Reportedly, she spent hours in convents
and with members of the Church to
bring truth to her portrayal: "I
gave more time, energy and thought
to this than to any of my previous
this, she received lukewarm reception
for starring with Anthony
Perkins in the romantic adventure
Mansions (1959) where she
plays—"with grace and dignity"—the
a jungle girl, who falls in love
with a Venezuelan traveler played
Unforgiven (1960), her only
film, where she appears "a bit
too polished, too fragile and civilized
among such tough and stubborn types"
Lancaster and Lillian
Gish in a story of racism against
a group of Native Americans.
at Tiffany's and iconic role
months after the birth of her son,
Sean, in 1960, Hepburn began work
at Tiffany's (1961), a film
loosely based on the Truman
Capote novella. The film was
drastically changed from the book.
disapproved of many changes and
proclaimed that Hepburn was "grossly
as Holly Golightly, a quirky New
York call girl,
a role he had envisioned for Marilyn
Hepburn's portrayal of Golightly
was adapted from the original: "I
can't play a hooker", she admitted
to Marty Jurow, co-producer of the
the sanitisation and resulting lack
of sexual innuendo in her character,
her portrayal was nominated for
the 1961 Academy Award for Best
Actress and became an iconic character
cinema. Often considered her
Hepburn's high fashion style and
sophistication as Holly Golightly
within the film became synonymous
with her. She named the role "the
jazziest of my career"
yet admitted: "I'm an introvert.
Playing the extroverted girl was
the hardest thing I ever did."
black dress which is worn by
Hepburn in the beginning of the
film is cited as one of the most
iconic items of clothing in the
history of the twentieth century
and perhaps the most famous little
black dress of all time.
MacLaine and James
Garner, her next role in William
Children's Hour (1961) saw
Hepburn and MacLaine play teachers
whose lives become troubled after
a student accuses them of being
Due to the social mores of the time,
the film and Hepburn's performance
went largely unmentioned, both critically
and commercially. Bosley Crowther
of The New York Times, opined
that the film "is not too well acted"
with the exception of Hepburn who
"gives the impression of being sensitive
and pure" of its "muted theme",
while Variety magazine also
complimented Hepburn's "soft sensitivity,
projection and emotional understatement"
adding that Hepburn and MacLaine
"beautifully complement each other".
only film with Cary
Grant came in the comic thriller
(1963). Hepburn, who plays Regina
Lampert, finds herself pursued by
several men who chase the fortune
her murdered husband had stolen.
The role earned her third and final
competitive BAFTA Award and accrued
another Golden Globe nomination
though critic Bosley Crowther was
less kind: "Hepburn is cheerfully
committed to a mood of how-nuts-can-you-be
in an obviously comforting assortment
of expensive Givenchy costumes."
Grant (59 years old at the time),
who had previously withdrawn from
the starring male lead roles in
Roman Holiday and Sabrina,
was sensitive about the age difference
between Hepburn (at age 34) and
him, making him uncomfortable about
the romantic interplay. To satisfy
his concerns, the filmmakers agreed
to change the screenplay so that
Hepburn's character would be the
one to romantically pursue his.
Grant, however, loved to humour
Hepburn and once said, "All I want
for Christmas is another picture
with Audrey Hepburn."
When It Sizzles (1964) reteamed
Hepburn with William Holden nearly
ten years after Sabrina.
The Parisian-set screwball
comedy, called "marshmallow-weight
was "uniformly panned"
but critics were kind to Hepburn's
creation of Gabrielle Simpson, the
young assistant of a Hollywood screenwriter
(Holden) who aids his writer's
block by acting out his fantasies
of possible plots, describing her
as "a refreshingly individual creature
in an era of the exaggerated curve."
Critical reception was worsened
by a number of problems that plagued
the set behind the scenes. Holden
tried, without success, to rekindle
a romance with the now-married actress;
that, combined with his alcoholism
made the situation a challenge.
Hepburn, after principal
photography began, demanded
the dismissal of cinematographer
Renoir after seeing what she
felt were unflattering dailies.
Superstitious, she also insisted
on dressing room 55 because that
was her lucky number (she had dressing
room 55 for Roman Holiday
and Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
and required that Givenchy, her
long-time designer, be given a credit
in the film for her perfume.
with the Wind has a motion
picture created such universal excitement
Fair Lady", wrote Soundstage
magazine in 1964,
yet Hepburn's landing the role of
flower girl Eliza
Doolittle in the 1964 George
Cukor film adaptation of the
musical sparked controversy.
Andrews, who had originated
the role in the stage show, had
not been offered the part because
Warner thought Hepburn or Elizabeth
Taylor more "bankable" propositions.
Initially refusing, Hepburn asked
Warner to give it to Andrews but,
eventually, Hepburn was cast.
friction was created when, although
non-singer Hepburn had sung with
"throaty charm" in Funny Face
and had lengthy vocal preparation
for the role in My Fair Lady,
her vocals were dubbed by Marni
was required because Eliza Doolittle's
songs were not transposed down to
accommodate Hepburn's "low-mezzo
voice" (as Nixon referred to it).
Upset, when first informed, she
walked out. She returned the next
day and apologised to everybody
for her "wicked behaviour".
Although Hepburn had lip
synced to her recorded tracks
during filming, Nixon looped
her vocals in post-production and
was given multiple attempts to match
Hepburn's lip movements precisely.
about 90% of her singing was dubbed
despite being promised that most
of her vocals would be used.
Hepburn's voice remains in one line
in "I Could Have Danced All Night",
in the first verse of "Just You
Wait", and in the entirety of its
reprise in addition to sing-talking
in parts of "The Rain in Spain"
in the finished film.
When asked about the dubbing of
an actress with such distinctive
vocal tones, Hepburn frowned and
said, "You could tell, couldn't
you? And there was Rex,
recording all his songs as he acted ...
next time —" She bit her lip
to prevent her saying more.
She later admitted that she would
have never accepted the role knowing
that Warner intended to have nearly
all of her singing dubbed.
controversy reached its height when,
despite the film's accumulation
of eight out of a possible twelve
awards at the 37th
Academy Awards, Hepburn was
left nomination-less in the Best
Actress category. Andrews would
be nominated for her efforts in
Poppins (1964), and won.
The media tried to play up a rivalry
between the two women, although
both denied any such thing, and
got along well. Despite such strife,
many critics greatly applauded Hepburn's
"The happiest thing about [My
Fair Lady]", wrote Bosley Crowther
in The New York Times "is that Audrey
Hepburn superbly justifies the decision
of Jack Warner to get her to play
the title role."
Her co-star Rex
Harrison, who played Professor
Higgins, also called Hepburn his
favourite leading lady and Gene
Ringgold of Soundstage also
commented that "Audrey Hepburn is
magnificent. She is Eliza for the
while adding, "Everyone agreed that
if Julie Andrews was not to be in
the film, Audrey Hepburn was the
the decade carried on, Hepburn appeared
in an assortment of genres including
the heist comedy How
to Steal a Million (1966)
where she played Nicole, the daughter
of a famous art collector whose
collection consists entirely of
forgeries. Fearing her father's
exposure, Nicole sets out to steal
one of his priceless statues with
the help of Simon Dermott (Peter
O'Toole). In 1967, she starred
in two films; the first being Two
for the Road, a non-linear
and innovative British dramedy
that traces the course of a couple's
troubled marriage. Director Stanley
Donen said that Hepburn was
more free and happy than he had
ever seen her, and he credited that
to co-star Albert
Until Dark, is a suspense
thriller in which Hepburn demonstrated
her acting range by playing the
part of a terrorised blind woman.
Filmed on the brink of her divorce,
it was a difficult film considering
husband Mel Ferrer was its producer.
She lost fifteen pounds under the
stress, but she found solace in
Crenna and director Terence
Young. Hepburn earned her fifth
and final competitive Academy Award
nomination for Best Actress; Bosley
Crowther affirmed, "Hepburn plays
the poignant role, the quickness
with which she changes and the skill
with which she manifests terror
attract sympathy and anxiety to
her and give her genuine solidity
in the final scenes."
1967 onward, after fifteen highly
successful years in film, Hepburn
decided to devote more time to her
family and acted only occasionally.
She attempted a comeback in 1976,
co-starring with Sean
Connery, in the period
and Marian, which was moderately
successful. In 1979, Hepburn took
the lead role of Elizabeth Roffe
in the international production
re-teaming with director Terence
Young (Wait Until Dark).
She shared top billing with co-stars
Mason and Romy
Schneider. Author Sidney
Sheldon revised his novel when
it was reissued to tie into the
film, making her character a much
older woman to better match the
actress's age. The film, an international
intrigue amid the jet-set,
was a critical and box office failure.
last starring role in a cinematic
film was with Gazzara in the 1981
All Laughed, directed by
Bogdanovich. The film was overshadowed
by the murder of one of its stars,
Bogdanovich's girlfriend, Dorothy
Stratten; the film was released
after Stratten's death but only
in limited runs. In 1987, she co-starred
Wagner in a tongue-in-cheek
Among Thieves, which borrowed
elements from several of Hepburn's
films, most notably Charade
and How to Steal a Million.
finishing her last role in a motion
picture in 1988, a cameo appearance
as an angel in Steven
Hepburn completed only two more
both critically acclaimed. Gardens
of the World with Audrey Hepburn
was a PBS
documentary television series, her
final performance before cameras
filmed on location in seven countries
in the spring and summer of 1990.
A one-hour special preceded the
series, debuting in March 1991,
while the series commenced the day
after her death (21 January 1993).
For the series's debut, Hepburn
was posthumously awarded the 1993
Award for Outstanding Individual
Achievement - Informational Programming.
Recorded in 1992, her spoken
word album, Audrey
Hepburn's Enchanted Tales,
features readings of classic children's
stories and earned her a posthumous
Award for Best Spoken Word Album
for Children. She remains one
of the few entertainers to win Grammy
and Emmy Awards posthumously.
was appointed Goodwill
Ambassador of UNICEF. United
States president George
H. W. Bush presented her with
Medal of Freedom in recognition
of her work with UNICEF,
and the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
posthumously awarded her the Jean
Hersholt Humanitarian Award
for her contribution to humanity,
with her son accepting on her behalf.
Grateful for her own good fortune
after enduring the German occupation
as a child, she dedicated the remainder
of her life to helping impoverished
children in the poorest nations.
Hepburn's travels were made easier
by her wide knowledge of languages;
besides being naturally bilingual
in English and Dutch, she also was
fluent in French, Italian, Spanish,
she had done work for UNICEF in
the 1950s, starting in 1954 with
radio presentations, this was a
much higher level of dedication.
Her family say that the thoughts
of dying, helpless children consumed
her for the rest of her life. In
2002, at the United
Nations Special Session on Children,
UNICEF honoured Hepburn's legacy
of humanitarian work by unveiling
a statue, "The Spirit of Audrey",
at UNICEF's New York headquarters.
Her service for children is also
recognised through the U.S.
Fund for UNICEF's Audrey Hepburn
first field mission for UNICEF was
in 1988. She visited an orphanage
that housed 500 starving children
and had UNICEF send food. Of the
trip, she said, "I have a broken
heart. I feel desperate. I can't
stand the idea that two million
people are in imminent danger of
starving to death, many of them
children, [and] not because there
isn't tons of food sitting in the
northern port of Shoa.
It can't be distributed. Last spring,
Red Cross and UNICEF workers were
ordered out of the northern provinces
because of two simultaneous civil
wars... I went into rebel country
and saw mothers and their children
who had walked for ten days, even
three weeks, looking for food, settling
onto the desert floor into makeshift
camps where they may die. Horrible.
That image is too much for me. The
'Third World' is a term I don't
like very much, because we're all
one world. I want people to know
that the largest part of humanity
August 1988, Hepburn went to Turkey
on an immunisation campaign. She
called Turkey "the loveliest example"
of UNICEF's capabilities. Of the
trip, she said, "the army gave us
their trucks, the fishmongers gave
their wagons for the vaccines, and
once the date was set, it took ten
days to vaccinate the whole country.
In October, Hepburn went to South
America. In Venezuela
Hepburn told the United States Congress,
"I saw tiny mountain communities,
slums, and shantytowns receive water
systems for the first time by some
miracle - and the miracle is
UNICEF. I watched boys build their
own schoolhouse with bricks and
cement provided by UNICEF."
toured Central America in February
1989, and met with leaders in Honduras,
El Salvador, and Guatemala.
In April, she visited Sudan
with Wolders as part of a mission
called "Operation Lifeline". Because
of civil war, food from aid
agencies had been cut off. The
mission was to ferry food to southern
Sudan. Hepburn said, "I saw
but one glaring truth: These are
disasters but man-made tragedies
for which there is only one man-made
solution - peace."
In October, Hepburn and Wolders
went to Bangladesh.
Isaac, a UN photographer, said,
"Often the kids would have flies
all over them, but she would just
go hug them. I had never seen that.
Other people had a certain amount
of hesitation, but she would just
grab them. Children would just come
up to hold her hand, touch her -
she was like the Pied
October 1990, Hepburn went to Vietnam
in an effort to collaborate with
the government for national UNICEF-supported
immunisation and clean
September 1992, four months before
she died, Hepburn went to Somalia.
Calling it "apocalyptic", she said,
"I walked into a nightmare. I have
seen famine in Ethiopia and Bangladesh,
but I have seen nothing like this -
so much worse than I could possibly
have imagined. I wasn't prepared
"The earth is red - an extraordinary
sight - that deep terracotta
red. And you see the villages, displacement
camps and compounds, and the earth
is all rippled around these places
like an ocean bed and I was told
these were the graves. There are
graves everywhere. Along the road,
wherever there is a road, around
the paths that you take, along the
riverbeds, near every camp -
there are graves everywhere."
scarred by what she had seen, Hepburn
still had hope. "Taking care of
children has nothing to do with
politics. I think perhaps with time,
instead of there being a politicisation
aid, there will be a humanisation
of politics." "Anyone who doesn't
believe in miracles is not a realist.
I have seen the miracle of water
which UNICEF has helped to make
a reality. Where for centuries young
girls and women had to walk for
miles to get water, now they have
clean drinking water near their
homes. Water is life, and clean
water now means health for the children
of this village."
"People in these places don't know
Audrey Hepburn, but they recognise
the name UNICEF. When they see UNICEF
their faces light up, because they
know that something is happening.
In the Sudan, for example, they
call a water pump
relationships and children
Ferrer on the set of War
1952, Hepburn was engaged to the
whom she had known since her London
dancing days. She called it "love
at first sight"; however, after
having her wedding
dress fitted and the date set,
she decided the marriage would not
work because the demands of their
careers would keep them apart most
of the time.
She issued a statement about her
decision, saying, "When I get married,
I want to be really married."
In the early 1950s, she also dated
and Gregory Peck bonded during the
filming of Roman Holiday
(1953) and there were rumours that
they were romantically involved;
both denied it. Hepburn, however,
added, "Actually, you have to be
a little bit in love with your leading
man and vice versa. If you're
going to portray love, you have
to feel it. You can't do it any
other way. But you don't carry it
beyond the set."
They did however become lifelong
friends. During the filming of Sabrina
(1954), Hepburn and the already-married
William Holden became romantically
involved. She hoped to marry him
and have children, but she broke
off the relationship when Holden
revealed that he had undergone a
Although a common perception that
Bogart and Hepburn (both starred
in Sabrina together) did
not get along, Hepburn commented
that, "Sometimes it's the so-called
'tough guys' that are the most tender
hearted, as Bogey was with me."
a cocktail party hosted by Gregory
Peck, Hepburn met American actor
Ferrer recalled that, "We began
talking about theatre; she knew
all about the La
Jolla Playhouse Summer Theatre,
where Greg Peck and I had been co-producing
plays. She also said she'd seen
me three times in the movie Lili.
Finally, she said she'd like to
do a play with me, and she asked
me to send her a likely play if
I found one."
Ferrer, vying for Hepburn to take
the title role, sent her the script
for the play Ondine. She
agreed and rehearsals started in
January 1954. Eight months later,
on 25 September 1954, after meeting,
working together, and falling in
love, the pair were married in Bürgenstock
while preparing to star together
in the film War and Peace
having their only son, Hepburn had
— one in March 1955
and another in 1959. The latter
occurred when filming The Unforgiven
(1960) where breaking her back after
falling off a horse and onto a rock
resulted in hospital stay and miscarriage
induced by physical and mental stress.
Hepburn took a year off work in
order to carry a child to term.
Sean Hepburn Ferrer, their son,
whose godfather was the novelist
J. Cronin, who resided near
Hepburn in Lucerne,
was born on 17 July 1960.
the insistence from gossip columns
that their marriage would not last,
Hepburn claimed that she and Ferrer
were inseparable and happy together,
though she admitted that he had
a bad temper.
Ferrer was rumoured to be too controlling
of Hepburn and had been referred
to by others as being her "Svengali"
- an accusation that Hepburn laughed
William Holden was quoted as saying,
"I think Audrey allows Mel to think
he influences her." Hepburn had
another two miscarriages later,
in 1965 and 1967.
After a 14-year marriage, the couple
divorced on 5 December 1968. Their
son believed that Hepburn had stayed
in the marriage too long.
June 1968 she was invited on a cruise
by Princess Olimpia Emmanuela Torlonia
di Civitella-Cesi and her industrialist
husband Paul-Annik Weiller (1933-1998).
On the cruise she met the Italian
Dotti and fell in love with
him on a trip to the Greek ruins.
She believed she would have more
children, and possibly stop working.
She married him on 18 January 1969
at age 39, and gave birth to their
son Luca Dotti on 8 February 1970.
While pregnant with Luca in 1969,
Hepburn was more careful, resting
for months and passing the time
by painting before delivering him
section. Hepburn tried for another
child, but again, had a miscarriage
Dotti loved Hepburn and was well-liked
by Sean, who called him "fun", he
began having affairs with younger
women. Hepburn had a romantic relationship
with actor Ben
Gazzara during the filming of
the 1979 movie Bloodline.
The Dotti-Hepburn marriage lasted
thirteen years and ended in 1982
when Hepburn felt Luca and Sean
were old enough to handle life with
a single mother. Although
Hepburn broke off contact with Ferrer,
and only spoke to him two more times
during the remainder of her life,
she remained in touch with Dotti
for the benefit of Luca. In October
2007, Andrea Dotti died from complications
of a colonoscopy.
1980 until her death, Hepburn lived
with and was romantically involved
with Dutch actor Robert
the widower of actress Merle
Oberon. She met Wolders through
a friend in the later stage of her
marriage to Dotti. The divorce from
Dotti finalised, Wolders and Hepburn
started their lives together, although
they never married. In 1989, she
called the nine years she had spent
with him the happiest years of her
life. "Took me long enough", she
said in an interview with American
Walters. Walters then asked
why they never married; Hepburn
replied that they were married,
just not formally.
return from Somalia to Switzerland
in late September 1992, Hepburn
began suffering from abdominal
pains. She went to specialists
and received inconclusive results,
so she decided to have herself examined
while on a trip to Los Angeles in
October. On 1 November Hepburn checked
in at Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center with her family.
Doctors performed a laparoscopy
and discovered abdominal cancer
that had spread from
her appendix, a rare form of
cancer belonging to a group of cancers
known as pseudomyxoma
Having grown slowly over several
years, the cancer had metastasised,
not as a tumour, but as a thin coating
over her small
intestine. After surgery, the
doctors put Hepburn through 5-fluorouracil
A few days later, she had an obstruction
and medication was not enough to
dull the pain. She underwent further
surgery on December 1. After one
hour, the surgeon decided that the
cancer had spread too far to be
removed fully and was inoperable.
coming to terms with the gravity
of Hepburn's illness, her family
decided to return home to Switzerland
in order to celebrate her last Christmas.
Because Hepburn was still recovering
from surgery, she was unable to
fly on commercial aircraft. Hubert
de Givenchy offered to help
and arranged for Rachel
Lambert "Bunny" Mellon to send
her private Gulfstream
jet, filled with flowers, to take
Hepburn from Los Angeles to Geneva.
She spent her last days in hospice
care at her home in Tolochenaz,
Switzerland and occasionally was
well enough to take walks in her
garden, but gradually became more
confined to bed rest as she grew
of Audrey Hepburn in Tolochenaz,
the evening of 20 January 1993,
Hepburn died at home in her sleep
cancer. After her death, Gregory
Peck went on camera and tearfully
recited her favourite poem, "Unending
Love" by Rabindranath
services were held at the village
church of Tolochenaz, Switzerland,
on 24 January 1993. Maurice Eindiguer,
the same pastor who wed Hepburn
and Mel Ferrer and baptised her
son Sean in 1960, presided over
her funeral while Prince
Sadruddin Aga Khan, of UNICEF,
delivered a eulogy. Many family
members and friends attended the
funeral, including her sons, partner
Robert Wolders, brother Ian Quarles
van Ufford, ex-husbands Andrea Dotti
and Mel Ferrer, Hubert de Givenchy,
executives of UNICEF, and fellow
Delon and Roger
Flower arrangements were sent to
the funeral by Gregory
Taylor, and the Dutch
The same day as her funeral, Hepburn
was interred at the Tolochenaz Cemetery,
a small cemetery that sits atop
a hill overlooking the village.
son Sean is now patron of the pseudomyxomasurvivor
charity dedicated to providing support
to patients of the rare cancer she
suffered from, pseudomyxoma
and is also the 'rare disease ambassador'
for 2015 on behalf of European
Organisation for Rare Diseases.
shall I sum up my life?
I think I’ve been particularly
legacy as an actress and a personality
has endured long after her death.
Film Institute named Hepburn
third among the Greatest
Female Stars of All Time. She
stands as one
of few entertainers who have won
Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.
She won a record three BAFTA
Awards for Best
British Actress in a Leading Role.
In her last years, she remained
a visible presence in the film world.
She received a tribute from the
Society of Lincoln Center in
1991 and was a frequent presenter
at the Academy Awards. She received
Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992.
She was the recipient of numerous
posthumous awards including the
Hersholt Humanitarian Award
and competitive Grammy and Emmy
Awards. She has been the subject
of many biographies since her death
and the 2000 dramatisation of her
life titled The
Audrey Hepburn Story which
Love Hewitt and Emmy
Rossum as the older and younger
The film concludes with footage
of the real Audrey Hepburn, shot
during one of her final missions
image is widely used in advertising
campaigns across the world. In Japan,
a series of commercials used colourised
and digitally enhanced clips of
Hepburn in Roman Holiday
to advertise Kirin
tea. In the United States, Hepburn
was featured in a 2006 Gap
commercial which used clips of her
dancing from Funny Face,
set to AC/DC's
in Black", with the tagline
"It's Back - The Skinny Black Pant".
To celebrate its "Keep it Simple"
campaign, the Gap made a sizeable
donation to the Audrey Hepburn Children's
In 2013, a computer-manipulated
representation of Hepburn was used
in a television advert for the British
chocolate bar Galaxy.
On 4 May 2014 Google featured a
on its homepage on the occasion
of Hepburn's 85th birthday.
earned her place in the International
Best Dressed List Hall of Fame
in 1961 but her reverence as a fashion
icon has continued long since her
death, proved by accruing the titles
"most beautiful woman of all time"
and "most beautiful woman of the
20th century" in polls by Evian
Despite being far from the Hollywood
preference of bosomy actresses like
Marilyn Monroe, Martine
Novak and Lana
Turner, Hepburn was very feminine
by her grace, huge eyes and long
legs. Against the gender stereotypes
of the time, the natural thickness
of her brown eyebrows made her "funny
face unforgettable", reminisced
director Billy Wilder. He joked,
"This girl...may make bosoms a thing
of the past."
redefined glamour with "elfin" features
and a gamine
figure that inspired designs by
de Givenchy who is credited
for creating her style.
Givenchy started designing her dresses
since the film Sabrina (1954).
He noted that, upon being told that
the actress he would be responsible
for many outfits for would be "Miss
Hepburn", he had expected Katharine
Hepburn. When faced with Audrey,
he was initially disappointed and
told Hepburn he had little time
to spare. Nevertheless, she knew
exactly how she wanted to look and
asked to view his latest collection.
Their collaboration in Sabrina
formed a lifelong friendship and
partnership; she was often a muse
for many of his designs and her
style became renowned internationally.
gave me a look, a kind, a silhouette.
He has always been the best and
he stayed the best. Because he kept
the spare style that I love. What
is more beautiful than a simple
sheath made an extraordinary way
in a special fabric, and just two
earrings?" revealed Hepburn.
Givenchy created her outfits for
many other films, including Funny
Face, Love in the Afternoon,
Breakfast at Tiffany's, Paris
When It Sizzles, Charade
and How to Steal a Million
(in which at one point her character
is disguised as a cleaning woman
and the male lead, played by Peter
O'Toole, remarks that this "gives
Givenchy a night off"). The designer
was always amazed that, even after
thirty five years of collaboration,
"her measurements [had] not changed
Givenchy remained Hepburn's friend
and ambassador, and she his muse,
throughout her life. Hepburn observed,
"I have many things in common with
Hubert. We like the same things."
She agreed to model, on occasions,
the creations of her friend. In
1988, when he presented his summer
collection in Paris, she said, "Wherever
I am in the world, he is always
there. He is a man who does not
disperse into worldliness. He has
time for those he loves."
Givenchy subsequently created a
perfume for her titled L'Interdit
(French for "Forbidden").
equally inspired fashion photographer
Avedon, who captured an intentionally
overexposed close-up of Hepburn's
face in which only her famous features
- her eyes, her eyebrows, and her
mouth - are visible. "I am, and
forever will be, devastated by the
gift of Audrey Hepburn before my
camera. I cannot lift her to greater
heights. She is already there. I
can only record. I cannot interpret
her. There is no going further than
who she is. She has achieved in
herself her ultimate portrait."
One of her many costars, Shirley
MacLaine, wrote in her 1996 memoir
My Lucky Stars, "[Hepburn]
had very rare qualities and I envied
her style and taste. I felt clumsy
and old fashioned when I was with
her." Hepburn's fashion styles continue
to be popular among women today.
shoe designer Salvatore
Ferragamo created a shoe for
her and made her ambassador of his
fashion house while honouring her
in a 1999 exhibition dedicated to
the actress titled Audrey Hepburn,
a woman, the style. She exercised
fashion in her lifetime and continues
to influence fashion. Fashion experts
affirmed that Hepburn's longevity
as a style icon results from her
sticking with a look that suited
her: "clean lines, simple yet bold
accessories, minimalist palette."
Hepburn enjoyed fashion, she did
not place much importance on it,
preferring casual and comfortable
clothes contrary to her image.
In addition, she never considered
herself attractive. She stated in
a 1959 interview, "you can even
say that I hated myself at certain
periods. I was too fat, or maybe
too tall, or maybe just plain too
ugly... you can say my definiteness
stems from underlying feelings of
insecurity and inferiority. I couldn't
conquer these feelings by acting
indecisive. I found the only way
to get the better of them was by
adopting a forceful, concentrated
black dress" from Breakfast
at Tiffany's, designed by Givenchy,
was sold at a Christie's
auction on 5 December 2006 for £467,200,
almost seven times its £70,000 pre-sale
estimate. This was the highest price
paid for a dress from a film,
until it was surpassed by the $4.6
million paid in June 2011 for the
Monroe "subway dress" from The
Seven Year Itch.
The proceeds went to the City of
Joy Aid charity to aid underprivileged
children in India.
The head of the charity said, "there
are tears in my eyes. I am absolutely
dumbfounded to believe that a piece
of cloth which belonged to such
a magical actress will now enable
me to buy bricks and cement to put
the most destitute children in the
world into schools."
However, the dress auctioned by
Christie's was not the one that
Hepburn wore in the film.
Of the two dresses that Hepburn
did wear, one is held in the Givenchy
archives while the other is displayed
in the Museum of Costume in Madrid.
A subsequent London auction of Hepburn's
film wardrobe in December 2009 raised
£270,200, including £60,000 for
the black Chantilly lace cocktail
gown from How to Steal a Million.
Half the proceeds were donated to
All Children in School, a joint
venture of The Audrey Hepburn Children's
Fund and UNICEF.
List of theatre credits
22 December 1948 for 291 performances
18 May 1949
27 April 1950
November 1951 - 31 May 1952
tour; Began 13 October 1952
in Pittsburgh; closed 16 May
1953 in San Franscisco
18 February 1954; closed 26
Won Tony Award for Best Performance
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