top of page

Oh Audrey!

The marvelous Audrey Hepburn has been cherished throughout time, as a well known actress starring in many famous films during her life. However, there are other lesser known interesting facts about Audrey that may come as a surprise. I have always loved her movies, starting with "My Fair Lady"... Oh the fashion!!! I digress, she also strutted her stuff in flicks like "Breakfast At Tiffany's", "Roman Holiday", "Sabrina", and "Funny Face".

I saw "My Fair Lady" as a young child, and was in awe of this woman who was able to rise above anyone's expectations of her. She was classy, elegant, intelligent, and wholesome... Fabulous in every sense of the word. She is inspiring for so many reasons, not just the impeccable style she touted. Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; (May 4, 1929 – January 20, 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. She was widely recognized as a film and fashion icon, ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood, and was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

Ixelles, Brussels was her birthplace, and Audrey also spent parts of her childhood in Belgium, England, and the Netherlands. As a young girl, Audrey's father left the family, and they fell upon very hard times. Audrey became malnourished, which is the reason for her small frame and tiny waist line. She was told she would not be able to become a professional ballet dancer because her bones were not strong enough.

After Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, Hepburn's mother moved her daughter back to Arnhem in the hope that, as during the First World War, the Netherlands would remain neutral and be spared a German attack. While there, Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945. She had begun taking ballet lessons during her last years at boarding school, and continued training in Arnhem under the tutelage of Winja Marova, becoming her "star pupil".

In 1942, her 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 he had not been involved in the act, he was targeted due to his family's prominence in Dutch society.Hepburn's half-brother Ian was deported to Berlin to work in a German labour camp, and her other half-brother Alex went into hiding to avoid the same fate.

She studied ballet with Sonia Gaskell in Amsterdam beginning in 1945 and with Marie Rambert in London starting in 1948. Her family was profoundly affected by the occupation, with Hepburn later stating that "had we known that we were going to be occupied for five years, we might have all shot ourselves. We thought it might be over next week… six months… next year… that's how we got through".

Audrey began performing as a chorus girl in West End musical theatre productions and then had minor appearances in several films. Audrey starred in the 1951 Broadway play Gigi after being spotted by French novelist Colette, on whose work the play was based. Aside from her successful Hollywood career, she had several failed marriages due to womanizing, unfaithful husbands, and she also suffered two miscarriages and a stillborn birth. Fortunately later on she was able to bare children, two sons, Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti.

Audrey rose to stardom in the romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953), alongside Gregory Peck, for which she was the first actress to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award for a single performance. That same year, Hepburn won a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her performance in Ondine. She went on to star in a number of successful films, such as: Sabrina (1954), in which Humphrey Bogart and William Holden compete for her affection; Funny Face (1957) a musical in which she sang her own song parts; the drama The Nun's Story (1959); the romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961); the thriller-romance Charade (1963), opposite Cary Grant; and the musical My Fair Lady (1964), which won the Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Picture. In 1967 she starred in the thriller Wait Until Dark receiving Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.

After that she only occasionally appeared in films, one being Robin and Marian (1976) with Sean Connery, and her last recorded performances were the 1990 documentary television series Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn. She won three BAFTA Awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role. In recognition of her film career, she received BAFTA's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and the Special Tony Award. She remains one of only 15 people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards.

Later in life she devoted much of her time to UNICEF, to which she had been contributing since 1954. Then she worked in some of the poorest communities of Africa, South America, and Asia between 1988 and 1992. Audrey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in December of 1992. A month later, she died of appendiceal cancer at her home in Switzerland at the age of 63.

A beauty, a talent, a warm heart, an inspiration! Thank you Audrey Hepburn for being you, for being strong and for never giving up, no matter what!


bottom of page