Audrey Hepburn (born May 4, 1929 in Ixelles, died January 20, 1993 in Tolochenaz) – British film and stage actress, humanitarian and philanthropist. An icon of popular culture, a sex symbol of the 1960s. She was one of the most acclaimed actresses of the later “Golden Era of Hollywood”. In 1999 American Film Institute placed her name on the 3rd place in the ranking of the “greatest actresses of all time”. (The 50 Greatest American Screen Legends).
Hepburn spent her childhood and teenage years in Belgium, England and Holland. In Amsterdam she studied ballet under the direction of Sonia Gaskell. In 1948 she moved to London, where she continued her studies with Marie Rambert and performed in choruses in musical theaters in the West End. In 1951, after playing minor roles in several films, she was noticed by the French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Thanks to her, she made her debut in the play Gigi, based on Colette”s 1944 novel, which was staged on Broadway. Two years later, Hepburn played the lead in the romantic comedy Roman Holiday, becoming the first actress in history to be honored for her performance with an Academy Award, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. In 1954, she won a theatrical Tony Award for her performance in the play Ondine by French playwright Jean Giraudoux. During the 1950s and 1960s, she starred in such films as Sabrina (1954), The Nun”s Story (1959), Breakfast at Tiffany”s (1961), Charade (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), How to Steal a Million Dollars (1966), and Waiting for Nightfall (1967). During her career, Hepburn was the recipient of prestigious film and theater awards, including those given for lifetime achievement. She remains one of 16 people in history to have won an EGOT, or Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.
In the late 1960s, she curtailed her acting activities, becoming involved in humanitarian work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. She was a member of this organization since 1954, and between 1988 and 1992 she worked in the poorest countries of Africa, South America and Asia. In 1992, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush in recognition of her services to humanitarianism.
Family and youth
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston (some biographers also erroneously state Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston) on May 4, 1929 at number 48, Rue Keyenveld in Ixelles, a municipal municipality located in the Brussels Capital Region of Belgium. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra (1900-1984), a Dutch baroness, was one of nine children of Baron Arnold Jan Adolf van Heemstra (1871-1957), mayor of Arnhem from 1920 to 1921 and former governor of Dutch Guiana in South America – later Suriname (1921-1928), then a Dutch colony – and Baroness Elbrig Wilhelmina Henrietta van Asbeck (1873-1939). Both families belonged to the aristocracy. At the age of 19, Ella van Heemstra graduated from a school for upper-class ladies, where she excelled in singing classes and amateur theater. Her dream was to become an opera singer. On March 11, 1920, she married Hendrik Gustaaf Adolf Quarles van Ufford, six years older, an oil producer based in Batavia, where they then lived. They had two sons, Arnold Robert Alexander “Alex” Quarles van Ufford (1920-1979) and Ian Edgar Bruce Quarles van Ufford (1924-2010). They divorced in early 1925.Hepburn”s father, the British Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston (1889-1980), born in the village of Úžice in what was then Austria-Hungary, was the son of Victor John Ruston, a Briton of Austrian descent – and an Austrian woman, Anna Catherina Wels. He served as honorary British consul in Semarang in the Dutch East Indies from 1923 to 1924. His first wife was the Dutch heiress Cornelia Wilhelmina Bisschop.
Hepburn”s parents married on September 7, 1926, in Jakarta in the Dutch East Indies (later Indonesia). According to biographer Donald Spoto, Ruston “turned out to be a mere combine who married her for money and the opportunity to live in the glamour of her aristocratic family.” At the end of 1928 the couple and their two children moved from the East Indies to London, where they rented an apartment in Mayfair, near Hyde Park. In February 1929 the father of the future actress was offered a job in an insurance company in Brussels. A month later the family took a ferry to France and then to the Belgian capital.
After three years, spent traveling between Brussels, Arnhem, The Hague and London, they settled in the suburban municipality of Linkebeek in Flemish Brabant. In the mid-1930s, Hepburn”s father began to show an increasing interest in fascist politics. In the spring of 1935 he and his wife were recruiting and collecting donations for the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosley. In late May, without any explanation, Ruston left his family and moved to London, where he became involved in fascist activities. He was placed under house arrest – first on the Isle of Man and then in Ireland. Despite his fascist views, he never supported the Holocaust or war. Hepburn recalled that his passing was “the most traumatic event” of her life.
In 1935, her grandparents on her mother”s side took Ella and her daughter to the family estate in Arnhem. Ella van Heemstra filed for divorce. Ruston, who lived in London, obtained permission to visit the child. A year later, the family moved to Kent, where Hepburn was educated for three years at a private girls” school there. Despite his permission to visit his daughter, Ruston showed little interest in the child; they met only four times during the four years.
Hepburn spent the summer of 1939 with her mother and a family friend near the seaside town of Folkestone, where they strolled through local parks, ate lunch on the harbor promenade, admired Gregorian stone houses, and attended outdoor music concerts.
When Britain declared war on Germany in September, just after the outbreak of World War II, Ella van Heemstra, convinced that the Netherlands would remain neutral as in World War I, took her daughter and returned to the family estate in Arnhem. Also in September, she obtained papers confirming her divorce from Ruston. Hepburn spent the Christmas period surrounded by family and relatives. Her half-brothers Arnold and Ian, who had been sent to boarding school in 1935, came home, causing the siblings to see each other sporadically. From 1939 to 1945 the future actress continued her studies at Arnhemse Muziekschool.
When Dutch territory was occupied by German forces in 1940, Hepburn used the name Edda van Heemstra for fear of deportation because of her “English-sounding” name. In 1941, she attended music and dance classes at the Arnhem Conservatory. She showed great talent and dedication and was selected to study under Winja Marova, quickly becoming her “star pupil”. Hepburn soon began performing outside the school; she and several other students gave secret dance recitals to help raise money for the Dutch Resistance. According to Spoto, they were called “dark performances” because they took place in darkened rooms with poor lighting and closed doors and windows. After the performance, people gave the young artists financial donations and messages for members of the resistance.
In addition to her performances, Hepburn carried reports in her boots, and during Operation Market Garden she helped an Allied paratrooper hiding in the woods at Arnhem by warning him of planned German maneuvers. Ian Edgar Bruce, her younger half-brother, organized student strikes in Daft and Leiden when Jewish professors were fired. He also helped several Jews obtain food ration cards and false documents. Despite the threat of the death penalty, he persuaded railroad workers to sabotage German supplies. When the Germans caught onto his trail, he was arrested in Arnhem and sent to work in a munitions factory in Berlin. The second brother, Arnold Robert Alexander Quarles van Ufford, fought in the Dutch army and was taken prisoner, from which he managed to escape.
Hepburn”s family was deeply affected by the occupation, something the future actress recalled years later: “If we had known we were going to be occupied for five years, we could have all shot ourselves. We thought maybe it would pass next week … in six months … next year … that”s how we got through it.” Her uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum (husband of her mother”s older sister, Miesje), was arrested and murdered by the Gestapo in retaliation for an act of sabotage by the resistance. After his death, Ella van Heemstra and her daughter moved to the estate of her grandfather Arnold Jan Adolf van Heemstra in Velp.
After the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, living conditions in the Netherlands became harder and Arnhem was completely ruined as a result of Operation Market Garden. The local population began to feel the effects of famine. The Hepburn family, like others, resorted to making flour for bread from tulip bulbs. “We lived on one slice of grass bread per person and a cup of watery stock made from one potato,” she recalled. As a result of her malnutrition, Hepburn suffered from severe anemia and had trouble breathing, and swelling appeared on her legs.
In the summer of 1945, international aid arrived in Arnhem and Velp. The United Nations (then known as UNRRA) supplied cartons of food, powdered milk, blankets and basic medical supplies. Local schools were turned into relief centers. Hepburn enlisted her family to distribute the donations. At age 16, she and her mother volunteered at a hospital, helping wounded soldiers recover. Among them was British paratrooper Terence Young. The family estate was destroyed and van Heemstra and her daughter decided to move to Amsterdam after the war.
The 1940s and 1950s.
Hepburn continued her ballet studies in Amsterdam with Sonia Gaskell, a prominent figure in ballet there, and with her Russian teacher Olga Tarassova, even though the stigma of the war took a heavy toll on her health. According to Spoto, “her lack of energy and weak muscles did not bode well for her career.” Hepburn fell into depression because of this. Ella van Heemstra took a job as a cook to be able to pay the rent for a small apartment. On Gaskell”s recommendation, the future actress and her mother moved to London in early 1948, where Hepburn auditioned for the rehearsal room at Marie Rambert”s prestigious Ballet Rambert ballet studio, then located in Notting Hill. The family estate was lost during the war. To pay for her daughter”s ballet lessons, Ella van Heemstra worked as a concierge in a Mayfair townhouse. After an audition, Rambert agreed to accept Hepburn into the company. The future actress was to begin her first rehearsals in April, having received a scholarship. At that time she decided to remove the Ruston part of her name, leaving only Hepburn (her great-grandmother”s maiden name). From then on, she introduced herself as Audrey Hepburn.
In a difficult financial situation, she was persuaded by her cousins to travel to Amsterdam in February, where she appeared as a KLM flight attendant in two short scenes for the documentary comedy Dutch in 7 Lessons (dir. Charles Huguenot van der Linden). The footage featuring her lasted less than a minute, for which reason she was not included in the credits.
Returning to London, Hepburn held various odd jobs, including modeling. When she began lessons with Lambert, she continued to work in the evenings as a model or secretary; she also appeared in soap and shampoo advertisements in magazines. After Rambert told her that despite her great talent, she had too weak a figure to be a prima ballerina, she decided to concentrate on acting. Along with several other students who did not go on tour with Rambert, she began going around the offices of producers and agents in search of theater work.
She regularly attended musicals staged in the West End, appearing in various roles in productions of High Button Shoes (1948) at the London Hippodrome and the sequel Sauce Piquante (1950) at the Cambridge Theatre. To improve and develop her voice and expand her knowledge of art and acting, she was accepted into drama school by Felix Aylmer. Along with other students, she read and discussed scenes from classical and contemporary plays for several months. She learned to emit her voice and properly accent lines of dialogue. According to her biographers, “her multilingual childhood shaped her unique way of speaking”. In addition to playing in musicals, Hepburn supplemented her salary – £12 a week – at Christmas by performing in children”s plays, thus taking part in 21 performances a week for a month.
In the summer of 1950 she did costume tests for the historical production of Quo Vadis (1951, directed by Mervyn LeRoy). Despite a positive evaluation from the director, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bosses rejected her candidacy due to poor recognition, and the role of Ligia was given to Deborah Kerr. That same year, she signed a contract with the Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), although she rejected the deal at first, believing it would limit her opportunities. The contract called for her to make three films; she was to be paid £500 for her participation in the first, rising to £1,500 for the third.
The first film that ABPC resold to an independent corporation was the comedy One Wild Oat (directed by Charles Saunders). Hepburn played the role of a hotel receptionist, in a scene that lasted less than twenty seconds. Despite her brief screen presence, her performance appealed to Stanley Holloway. Director Mario Zampi enlisted Hepburn for an episodic role as a girl selling cigarettes in a nightclub in the comedy Laughter in Paradise (1951). In addition to the names of well-known actors, ABPC included information about debutant contract actresses. She created another supporting role in the crime comedy The Shaykh of Lavender Hill (dir. Charles Crichton), starring Alec Guinness.
Hoping to receive better roles, Hepburn extended her contract with ABPC for the next three films. Her salary was also increased to £2,500. She was cast in the comedy Young Wives” Tales (1951, directed by Henry Cass). The actress did not like this film, mainly because of the conflict with the director, who did not like her accent. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: “The actors tried very hard, including the beautiful Audrey Hepburn in the role of the unmarried lodger.” In November 1950, Thorold Dickinson arranged for the actress to rehearse for the political thriller The Mysterious People (1952), whose plot depicted the lives of two young sisters (Hepburn, Valentina Cortese) who flee to London when their father is assassinated by a dictator. The role of Nora Brentano was the most important in Hepburn”s career to date. One reviewer wrote that she “combines beauty with talent, especially in two short dance sequences.”
In the spring of 1951, she was on loan from ABPC, joining the cast of the British-French musical comedy We”re Going to Monte Carlo (dir. Jean Boyer), which was shot on the French Riviera. At the same time, an English-language version of the film was being filmed under the title Monte Carlo Baby. Hepburn, because of her fluency in French, was the only one of the cast to repeat her scenes at once. Both productions turned out to be a financial flop, and the actress was not satisfied with the work on the set, mainly due to the production of two versions of one film.
When the crew of Going to Monte Carlo was shooting near the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo in May, Hepburn was spotted by French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, whose novella Gigi, published in 1944, was being prepared for a theatrical adaptation. That same day, the author and her husband Maurice Goudeket invited Hepburn to their apartment, offering her the lead role in the play Gigi. Hepburn, due to her lack of stage experience, was initially skeptical of the proposal, but agreed after a conversation with Colette.
The play premiered at the Fulton Theatre on Broadway on November 24, 1951, and Hepburn received favorable reviews for her performance, despite critics saying the show was inferior to the 1949 French film adaptation. Richard Watts Jr. of the New York Post stated that “clearly the lovely Miss Hepburn is not an experienced actress, but her character is so endearing and good that she is the success of the evening.” Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times wrote that she was “a young actress, full of charm, honesty and talent (and as Gigi she builds a full-blooded character, from the clumsy lack of familiarity in the first act to the thrilling climax in the last scene. It”s balanced, excellent acting, spontaneous, clear and captivating.” The Philadelphia Inquirer”s Henry P. Murdoch agreed that her “incredibly funny performance” made her “a top-notch actress. She was honored with a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Gigi Hepburn.
A career in Hollywood
Prior to Gigi Hepburn”s release in September, she received a phone call from Robert Lennard of ABPC saying that executives at Paramount Pictures had expressed interest in her for a new project to be set in Rome. After William Wyler met the actress at Claridge”s Hotel in London, the director admitted that she was very smart, talented and ambitious. The filmmaker made no secret of the impression Hepburn made on him during a test shoot directed by Dickinson in Iver Heath at Pinewood Studios on September 18. “She had everything I was looking for – charm, innocence and talent. She was very funny. It was absolutely adorable,” he recalled.
On October 15, the actress signed a contract with Paramount to make seven films over seven years. The contract included a clause giving Hepburn a year off between each film so she could also appear in theater and television, and the studio had the right to loan her to another studio for one of those seven films.
The plot of the romantic comedy Roman Holiday presented the fate of a young, frustrated princess Anna (Hepburn), who, bored with the rigid rules and etiquette accompanying court visits, sneaks out of the embassy premises and visits Rome for a day in the company of an American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck). Soon the couple falls in love with each other. The scene in which the main characters ride through the streets of Rome on a Piaggio Vespa scooter has gone down in film history. For twelve weeks of work on the set Hepburn received a salary of $ 7,000 plus $ 250 per week for living expenses. Wyler did not hide his impression: “She is a species now almost extinct – an attentive student of acting.” Peck called agent George Chasin mid-shoot suggesting that Hepburn”s name appear with his in the lead, although according to Spoto, Wyler and the studio staff in Hollywood took the initiative.
The film was a box office success, and Hepburn gained star status. She launched a whole new canon of female beauty in America in 1953; her photos were featured in many magazines, including the cover of Time magazine. She also received favorable reviews from critics who emphasized her talent and personal charm. A.H. Weiler of The New York Times wrote: “she is a slender, charming and pensive beauty, by turns regal and childlike in her deep appreciation of the simple pleasures and loves she discovers. Despite her brave smile, realizing the end of her romance, she remains a sad and lonely person, facing a suffocating future.” For her portrayal of Princess Anne, Hepburn won an Academy Award for Best Leading Actress, a BAFTA for Best British Actress and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama. She also won the New York Film Critics Association award.
In preparation for her next project, Hepburn teamed up with French costume designer Hubert de Givenchy. After the successful reception of Roman Holiday, Paramount engaged her for the romantic comedy Sabrina (directed by Billy Wilder), telling the story of brothers Linus and David Larrabee (Humphrey Bogart and William Holden), who fall in love with the daughter of a chauffeur (John Williams). Bogart, who accepted the role after Cary Grant turned it down, was skeptical about working with Hepburn, claiming he was too mature for a film romance with a young actress. He often got into conflicts with the crew, especially Holden, and made ironic remarks about Hepburn. The actress later admitted that playing together was “quite tolerable”. She was paid $11,914 for her work on the set of Sabrina; after paying her agent, lawyer, manager, and withholding taxes, her salary was just over $3,000.
In a review in the pages of The New York Times, Bosley Crowther gave a flattering assessment of the Briton”s performance, pointing out that “she is a young lady of extraordinary range of sensitive and moving expressions in such a frail and slender frame. She is even more sparkling as a daughter and as a favorite of the servants than Princess Anne of yesteryear, and nothing more can be said.” In The Film Daily”s annual poll, published in December 1953, Hepburn and José Ferrer were voted best actors. Hepburn was nominated for a second consecutive Academy Award for Best Leading Actress and for a BAFTA for Best British Actress.
In January 1954, together with Mel Ferrer, she came to New York to begin rehearsals for the play Ondine by playwright Jean Giraudoux at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The play, directed by Alfred Lunt, premiered on Broadway on February 18. Brooks Atkinson in “The New York Times” commented positively on Hepburn”s interpretation of the role, noting that “the role of Ondine is complex. It is built up by elements – moods, impressions, intrigue and tragedy. Somehow Miss Hepburn manages to translate these into the language of the theater without artifice or affectation. Her performance is vibrant, graceful and charming, disciplined by an instinctive sense of the realities of the stage.” One reviewer for The New Yorker wrote: “Miss Hepburn has a gift that makes everything she says or does have an irresistible grace. The weakest joke gains an extra personal dimension and becomes comic; the most ordinary and obvious task seems at this point to inspire sensational acting.” Ferrer has received mostly negative reviews of his performance.
Her performance won her a Tony Award the same year she won an Oscar for Roman Holiday. This made her history as one of only three actresses (the other two being Ellen Burstyn and Shirley Booth) to win an Academy Award and Tony statuette in a single year. Relentless pressure from Ferrer and journalists caused Hepburn to end her stage performances, coming close to a nervous breakdown.
In 1955 she won the Henrietta Award together with Peck. The following year she starred in the war melodrama War and Peace (directed by King Vidor), a screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy”s 1869 historical novel of the same name. Hepburn played noblewoman Natasha Rostova, who cannot find true love during the Napoleonic Wars. On screen she was partnered by Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer. For her performance she received a salary of $350,000, which was a record salary for an actress at the time. The film received mostly negative reviews, and Hepburn, despite the unfavorable reviews, received her third BAFTA nomination and second Golden Globe nomination.
In 1957 she showed her dancing skills in her musical debut, the comedy Funny Face (directed by Stanley Donen). She starred there alongside Fred Astaire as Dick Avery, a fashion photographer who discovers the talent of a book saleswoman (Hepburn). In addition to the fine cast and costumes, the film was a box-office success. Her next production was based on the novel Ariane, jeune fille russe by Claude Anet, the romantic comedy Love in the Afternoon (directed by Billy Wilder), where she starred alongside Gary Cooper. Hepburn played Ariane Chavasse, the daughter of a detective (Maurice Chevalier) who falls in love with American playboy Frank Flannagan (Cooper). Although the film received mostly favorable press reviews, some biographers and critics suggested that Cooper was too old for the role. Hepburn was nominated for a Golden Globe for the third time, this time in the category for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.
On February 4, 1957, NBC broadcast a ninety-minute episode of “Mayerling” (directed by Anatole Litvak), based on an authentic event that took place on January 30, 1889 at the Austrian hunting lodge of Mayerling. Archduke Rudolf Habsburg-Lorraine shot himself and his 17-year-old mistress, Baroness Maria Vetsera, after his father ordered him to abandon his teenage lover. Hepburn was partnered by Ferrer in the lead role. The play received negative reviews, with critics declaring that Maria and Rudolf, played by Hepburn and Ferrer, were astonishingly impassive. The actress received an honorarium of $150,000 for her performance.
Wishing to avoid being identified with a single genre, and impressed by Kathryn Hulme”s novel published in 1956, Hepburn accepted the lead role of Sister Lucia (Gabrielle van der Mal) in the Warner Bros. studio drama The Story of a Nun (1959, directed by Fred Zinnemann). In early July, the actress signed a contract with producer Jack L. Warner, receiving a salary of $250,000 plus a percentage of gross receipts. In preparation for the role, Hepburn learned to use surgical instruments and absorbed the details of life in a convent. For the other roles, the studio enlisted Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft, and Peter Finch, among others, who agreed to participate because of the well-written script and the opportunity to work with Hepburn. Zinnemann”s film depicted the life story of Sister Lucia (Hepburn), a young Belgian woman who decides to join a religious order, making many sacrifices in the process, yet soon after World War II begins, she decides she cannot remain neutral in the face of the wickedness of Nazi Germany. Filming was problematic, mainly due to the sweltering heat and humidity in the Belgian Congo, where some of the shots were taken.
The role of Sister Lucia was favorably received by critics who considered it one of the most important in the actress”s career; according to Spoto, it was “the most ambitious role of her career – the most difficult, physically tiring and exhausting (it is safe to say that Sister Lucia played by Audrey Hepburn is one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema). Zimmerman also praised her, stating that “she proved to be a great actress in a very difficult and demanding role”. Films in Review magazine wrote: “In The Nun”s Story, Hepburn reveals the kind of acting talent with which she conveys deep and complex inner feelings so deftly that one has to watch her closely, watching the film a second or third time, to notice how she does it.” The Variety Weekly expressed admiration for “a towering and revealing film in which Audrey Hepburn is given her most ambitious role yet and gives a fine performance.
Hepburn earned her third Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role (losing out to Simone Signoret for her performance in The Place on the Mountain, directed by Jack Clayton). She was awarded BAFTA and the David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress. She also won the New York Film Critics Association Second Prize and the Zulueta Award at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
In 1959, she starred in the romantic-adventure film Green Houses (directed by Mel Ferrer), telling the story of a young man (Anthony Perkins) who flees to the Amazon jungle after a revolt in Caracas. As he wanders, he comes across a plantation where he meets Rima (Hepburn), a young girl being raised by her grandfather (Bosley Crowther acknowledged that “Miss Hepburn threads her way through with grace and dignity, making Rima both touching and idyllic, if not in the least bit logical,” while Variety called it “irritating” and described Hepburn”s role as “without particular depth.” Green Houses was an artistic and commercial failure, and the actress herself in later years spoke of the film with indifference.
Hepburn”s first film made in the early 1960s was the western Unforgivable (directed by John Huston), where she starred alongside Audi Murphy, Burt Lancaster and silent era star Lillian Gish. The themes of the film dealt with the extensive problem of intolerance of Indians by the white population living in nearby settlements. When it is revealed that Rachel Zachary (Hepburn) is an Indian woman from the Kiowa tribe. On January 28, during the shooting of one of the shots, the actress fell from a horse, suffering a fracture of four vertebrae and a sprain of the foot. She was carried off the set on a stretcher. Unforgivable garnered negative reviews, with the terms “absurd, weak, embarrassing” predominating, and Huston considered it the worst of his career. Bosley Crowther wrote that “Hepburn as a girl is a little too polished, delicate and civilized in the company of such tough and stubborn characters as Burt Lancaster.”
In 1961, despite much hesitation, Hepburn played the lead in the romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany”s (dir. Blake Edwards), whose screenplay by George Axelrod was based on Truman Capote”s 1958 short story. He preferred Marilyn Monroe in the lead role, but later admitted that “Hepburn did a great job”. The actress was not convinced of her acting, which made the director often give her encouragement. “Despite her lack of confidence, Audrey had a brave soul,” Edwards recalled. The plot of the film told the story of a young writer, Paul Varjak (George Peppard), who moves into an elegant New York City townhouse. His neighbor is beautiful, filigree Holly Golightly, a woman exuding sex appeal, living at the expense of rich admirers. In the film, Hepburn performed the song “Moon River,” which won the Academy Award for Best Song. According to Spoto, “the image of Audrey Hepburn, sitting in an open window, gently strumming the strings and singing ”Moon River” in her uncertain, melancholy mezzo-soprano, is surely the most enduring symbol of the enchantment she cast on a multitude of movie goers then and ever after.”
The film received rave reviews from critics; Variety wrote that “Holly was brought to life in the exciting Audrey Hepburn character.” The famous little black dress designed by de Givenchy, which Hepburn wears in the film, was considered one of the most iconic items in the history of the 20th century, and the actress earned her status as a fashion icon and “queen of elegance.” Hepburn was nominated for an Academy Award for the fourth time (losing out to Sophia Loren, awarded for her performance in Mother and Daughter, directed by Vittorio De Sica). It was the second time she won the David di Donatello statuette for Best Foreign Actress.
The next project was a drama Innocents (directed by William Wyler), telling a story of two teachers, Karen Wright (Hepburn) and Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine), working in a private school for girls. When one of them catches a student (Karen Balkin) in a lie, the student in retaliation spreads a rumor suggesting that the teachers are lesbians. The cast also included James Garner (played by Joe Cardin). Due to the social mores of the time and the Hays Code in place, Wyler decided to cut all scenes showing the love plot of the two heroines. Both critics and audiences largely ignored the film and Hepburn”s role itself, but biographers insisted that the actress gave “the most concentrated and finely hushed performance since The Nun”s Story.” Wyler”s film received five Academy Award nominations. Although it did not win any statuettes, the attempt to tackle a taboo subject was positively received. There was an accident during the filming in Los Angeles. For the duration of the shooting, the actress” family rented a house on Sunset Boulevard from Deborah Kerr. Hepburn”s dog named Famous was fatally struck by a car when it ran into the roadway. Ferrer bought his wife a new Yorkshire terrier dog, which she named Assam.
In 1963, the actress starred with Cary Grant in the romantic thriller The Charade (directed by Stanley Donen). Hepburn played the role of a young widow, Regina Lampert, pursued by a group of men who want to seize the estate belonging to her late husband. The 59-year-old Grant, who had previously turned down offers in Rome Vacation, felt uncomfortable with the age difference between him and the British woman. The actor asked that minor changes be made to the script to add comedy to his relationship with Hepburn and to make it a character played by her adore the character played by Grant. The lead roles were played by Walter Matthau. The film was met with favorable reviews. Bosley Crowther wrote: “Hepburn happily attaches herself to a mood that can be found in a comfortable assortment of expensive Givenchy costumes.” Spoto emphasized that despite the age difference, Grant made the romance with Hepburn believable. For her role as Regina “Reggie” Lampert, Hepburn was awarded her third BAFTA statuette and earned a Golden Globe nomination. Both Grant and Hepburn valued working together on the set of Charade, speaking respectfully of each other and developing a close friendship.
Being owed one film to Paramount, she accepted an offer to participate in the picture When Paris Boils (dir. Richard Quine) (which was a remake of The Name of Henrietta from 1952). Hepburn received $ 12.5 thousand per week and $5 thousand for living expenses. Shooting was carried out in Paris. The actress played the role of Gabriella Simpson, a typist who helps write a film script for Richard Benson (William Holden) who suffers from a lack of inspiration. The making of the comedy was problematic. Holden tried unsuccessfully to have an affair with the married Hepburn, and his alcoholism made it very difficult for the entire crew. The cast also included Noël Coward and Tony Curtis, while Marlene Dietrich and Mel Ferrer played episodes. At the actress”s special request, the cinematographer was changed; Claude Renoir was replaced by Charles Lang, who had worked with Hepburn on Sabrina. Due to unfavorable reviews from studio representatives, it was decided that When Paris Roars would not be released earlier than spring 1964.
In 1964, Hepburn starred in My Fair Lady (directed by George Cukor), a screen adaptation of the 1956 Broadway musical. Supporters of the play expected Julie Andrews to reprise her role, but Eliza Doolittle was played by Hepburn. The plot of the musical centered on the character of phonetics doctor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), who bets that he will make a lady out of a flower seller (Hepburn) by teaching her good manners and pronunciation. In the singing scenes, Hepburn”s voice was dubbed by professional soprano Marni Nixon, although it was promised that she could sing the songs herself.
My Fair Lady was awarded eight Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Harrison, and Hepburn was honored with a Golden Globe nomination. The actress, in presenting the Oscar to Harrison, congratulated him on his win. She also congratulated Andrews on winning the statuette for her role in Mary Poppins (1964, dir. Robert Stevenson). Critics agreed that Hepburn was the perfect choice for the role of Doolittle. Bosley Crowther acknowledged that her performance “imparted a delicate sensitivity of feeling and phenomenal acting skill.” “The New Yorker” wrote: “Her acting and personality transform Eliza into an entirely different, though no less thrilling, character than that created by Miss Andrews.” At a later date, Hepburn admitted: “I was delighted . I really was. But everybody was even more thrilled. I think the world saw her winning as divine justice, and I think I wasn”t nominated just because they wanted to punish me for not being the one to get the part. I realized at the time that it”s always better to consider yourself the underdog and never the winner.”
In 1966, Hepburn collaborated with William Wyler for the third time, appearing in the lead role in the crime comedy How to Steal a Million Dollars. She played Nicole Bonnet, the daughter of an art collector (Hugh Griffith) who, fearing that a fake sculpture of the goddess Venus might be discovered, decides to steal it from a museum. On the screen she was partnered by Peter O”Toole, known for his roles in such pictures as Lawrence of Arabia (1962, directed by David Lean) and Becket (1964, directed by Peter Glenville). Agent Kurt Frings negotiated with studio 20th Century Fox to agree to hire Hepburn”s regular collaborators, including Givenchy for costume supervision and cinematographer Charles Lang. Wyler”s film proved to be a commercial hit. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised the production while highlighting Hepburn”s “luscious” performance.
A year later she appeared in two projects. The first was an experimental comedy-drama Two on the Road (directed by Stanley Donen), depicting the lives of married couple Joan and Mark Wallace (Hepburn, Albert Finney), who, during a holiday trip, reminisce about their twelve-year relationship. The actress was initially apprehensive about taking on the role, believing that she would lose her previous image and audience. Martin Gitlin admitted that there were many similarities between the film”s unhappy marriage and Hepburn”s real-life relationship with Ferrer (also lasting twelve years). As he emphasized, this allowed the actress to approach the role of Joan Wallace with “tremendous realism, conviction, and deep emotionality.” Although critics expressed favorable reviews, some American audiences were offended by Hepburn”s change of image. The picture Two on the Road enjoyed recognition outside the United States. The British woman was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.
Hepburn”s second film in 1967 was the psychological thriller Waiting for Nightfall (dir. Terence Young). She played Susy Hendrix, a blind woman who finds a heroin-soaked doll in her house. Her recovery is undertaken by three ruthless thugs (Alan Arkin, Jack Weston and Richard Crenna). In preparation for the role, Hepburn attended a school for the blind and learned Braille. The making of the film was tense, largely because of Ferrer, who served as producer and often interfered with the project. Hepburn”s performance was met with acclaim; the actress was nominated for an Academy Award for the first time since Breakfast at Tiffany”s (she lost her competition for the statuette to Katharine Hepburn, awarded for her performance in Guess Who”s Coming to Dinner, directed by Stanley Kramer), and also received a Golden Globe nomination. Bosley Crowther wrote that “the sweetness with which Miss Hepburn plays a poignant role, the perspicacity with which she changes, and her ability to manifest terror, help draw sympathy and anxiety to her and lend solidity to her final scenes.” The actress received a salary of $900,000 plus ten percent of the gross receipts, which translated to a total of $3 million.
After the premiere, she retired from the film industry for eight years, devoting time to her family and raising her son. In April 1968, she was awarded an honorary Tony Award for her lifetime of theatrical work.
The 1970s and 1980s.
She returned to the big screen after less than a decade, starring as Lady Marion in the adventure film The Return of Robin Hood (1976, dir. Richard Lester) with Sean Connery, telling the story of the aging Robin Hood (Connery) returning from a crusade, who wants to help the poor and win Marion”s affections. It premiered on March 11 at Radio City Music Hall. The return of Robin Hood received mixed reviews. Roger Ebert, referring to the creation of the main characters, wrote: “They shine. They really seem to be in love. And they project as wonderfully complex, sympathetic people.” Hepburn was paid $1 million, but was not happy with the fast pace of work on the film.
Three years later, she starred in the crime thriller Bloodline (directed by Terence Young), playing the role of Elizabeth Roffe, heiress to her father”s fortune, who dies while mountain climbing. Hepburn only accepted the offer to participate because of her acquaintance with Young and to weather the worse period in her life after the end of her second marriage. The cast also includes Ben Gazzara, Irini Papas, James Mason and Omar Sharif. Shooting took place in Paris, Rome and Sardinia, among other locations. The film turned out to be a financial failure in the eyes of both critics and audiences, garnering negative reviews that included the prevailing opinions of “expressionless elegance, sluggish, absurd and clumsy.” For her role, the actress received a salary of over a million dollars.
In 1981 Hepburn starred in the romantic comedy Laughing (directed by Peter Bogdanovich), the plot of which depicted the life of detective John Russo (Ben Gazzara), who undertakes the task of tracking down women accused of infidelity by their jealous husbands. The inspiration for the character that Hepburn created was her affair with Gazzara. The actress accepted the offer, hoping to continue her relationship with the lead actor and because of the gala, which amounted to a million dollars. The film Worth a Laugh received negative reviews.
Six years later, she starred alongside Robert Wagner in her only television film Love Among Thieves (directed by Roger Young), produced for the American broadcaster ABC. The actress was not happy with the fact that on screen, by the decision of the producer, she had to play a character much younger than she really was, which made her feel uncomfortable.
In 1988, Hepburn took part in two documentary projects. The first was Gregory Peck: His Own Man, dedicated to the American actor with whom she starred in Roman Holiday. She also appeared in a television episode of Directed by William Wyler, part of the American Masters series produced for PBS. Her last appearance on the big screen was in the 1989 adventure film Forever (directed by Steven Spielberg), playing the role of Hap, the Guardian Angel of a young pilot (Richard Dreyfuss). She accepted the role because of Spielberg, with whom she really wanted to work. According to Spoto, she spoke almost in a whisper, “emphasizing wisdom rather than grand gestures or words, she was unexpectedly believable as a guide to a secret life.”
From April to July 1990, Hepburn, while in England, France, Holland, Japan, the United States, Italy, and the Dominican Republic, made a miniseries for PBS called Gardens of the World, appearing as a presenter. Despite concerns from the producers, the actress opted out of the numerous staff to save on the budget. The plot of the miniseries focused on flower gardens located in European countries. The emission took place on January 21, 1993, the day after the death of the actress. Barbara Saltzman of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the timing of the broadcast was “unfortunate,” but “the timeless beauty of the rose in the first episode is a fitting symbol of her elegance and style.”
In mid-October 1992, after returning to Switzerland from several weeks in Somalia, Hepburn began to complain of stomach pains. She suffered from indigestion and intestinal colic. Treatment with metronidazole was unsuccessful and caused side effects. While initial tests in Switzerland failed to establish a diagnosis, a laparoscopy performed Nov. 1 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles revealed a rare form of abdominal cancer that belongs to a group of tumors known as peritoneal pseudomyxoma. There was metastasis to the colon, which was partially removed from the actress. After the surgery was performed, she underwent parenteral nutrition and then began chemotherapy. She went to live with Connie Wald, wife of screenwriter and producer Jerry Wald, for the duration of her treatment. After the first week of chemotherapy, Hepburn suffered a severe intestinal obstruction. On December 1, she underwent another surgery. Doctors informed the actress”s family that the cancer had spread significantly and nothing could be done. Hepburn was visited by many friends and acquaintances from the film set, including Billy Wilder, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck and James Stewart.
On December 20, the actress returned with her family to Switzerland, where she spent her last Christmas. Due to her recovery from surgery, she was unable to take commercial flights. Hubert de Givenchy, her longtime friend, arranged with the support of Rachel Lambert Mellon for a flower-filled Gulfstream private plane to take the actress from Los Angeles to Geneva. Hepburn spent her last days at her home in Tolochenaz in the canton of Vaud. Occasionally, when her health permitted, she took walks in the garden, but over time she was limited to lying in bed.
Death and burial
Audrey Hepburn died in her sleep on January 20, 1993. After her death, Gregory Peck recited in front of the camera her favorite poem, Unending Love by Rabindranath Tagore. Charles Champlin, in an article published in the Los Angeles Times, called her “a Hollywood star with a fame and reputation that grew out of the movies there.” The author went on to add that she had a direct impact on how men view women. “A woman”s true beauty is better revealed in her style, calmness, charm, intelligence and sincerity.”
Funeral services were held on January 24 in Tolochenaz. The ceremony was presided over by Maurice Eindiguer, the same priest who performed the wedding of Hepburn and Ferrer in 1954 and the baptism of their son Sean in 1960. The eulogy was delivered by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Nearly six hundred people attended the actress” funeral, including family members, her two sons Luca and Sean, half-brother Ian Quarles van Ufford, ex-husbands Andrea Dotti and Mel Ferrer, longtime partner Robert Wolders, Hubert de Givenchy, UNICEF directors, and actors Alain Delon and Roger Moore. Wreaths for the funeral were sent by Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck and the Dutch royal family. Hepburn was laid to rest at the local Cimetière de Tolochenaz.
Her gravestone is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. One of the old two-room schoolrooms behind the cemetery was later converted into a small museum dedicated to Hepburn, but it was closed in 2002.
In the 1950s, Hepburn became a member of UNICEF, telling children about her experiences during the war. After curbing her acting career, she became more involved in humanitarian work, becoming an important partner of the organization and, since 1988, serving as a goodwill ambassador. In an interview, referring to her involvement with the organization, she admitted: “I know from personal experience how much UNICEF means to children in need because I myself received food and medical care after World War II.” Her first mission, eight days after her appointment as ambassador, was a trip to Ethiopia, at the time the poorest country in the world. She held discussions with mothers, children and doctors. She also visited a refugee camp. She prepared her own speeches, which was an exception among other celebrities supporting UNICEF. By the end of 1988, she had visited fourteen countries, raising $22 million.
As a goodwill ambassador, she actively participated in many missions, including Bangladesh, Kenya, El Salvador, Sudan and Vietnam. In interviews, she actively talked about her work in the field and various humanitarian projects, much more often than her acting career. During a visit to Ethiopia in 1988, she said: “My heart is broken. I feel desperate. I cannot bear the thought that two million people are in immediate danger of starvation, many of them children, not because there are not tons of food in the northern port of Shoa. It can”t be distributed. Last spring, Red Cross and UNICEF workers were expelled from the northern provinces because of two civil wars going on simultaneously… I went to rebel country where I saw mothers and their children walking for ten days or even three weeks in search of food, settling on desert staves in makeshift camps where they can die. Horrible. This image is too much for me. “Third World” is a term I really dislike because we are all one world. I want people to know that most of humanity is suffering.”
For her commitment, Hepburn was honored with a Certificate of Merit by UNICEF. The nonprofit organizations Children”s Institute Inc. and Sigma Theta Tau awarded her the Champion of Children Award and Distinguished International Lifetime Award for her “work on behalf of the world”s children.” Hepburn was also honored with the Humanitarian Award by Variety Clubs International. UNICEF gave her the Sindaci per L”infanzia Award. In December 1992, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush for her services to humanitarianism. A year later, the actress was posthumously awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nine years after her death, at a special United Nations session on children, UNICEF honored Hepburn”s humanitarian legacy by unveiling The Spirit of Audrey statue on the grounds of the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Her contributions to children were also recognized by establishing her as patron of the U.S. UNICEF Audrey Hepburn Society.
Personality, interests, friendships
Audrey Hepburn by nature was a person similar in character to the characters she created on screen, that is, gentle, courageous, modest and affectionate. She treated people kindly and with respect. Throughout her career she maintained decency and never abused the status of a star – she took a great distance when she was referred to in this way. Elder son Sean Hepburn Ferrer stated in the book he wrote, Audrey Hepburn. The epitome of elegance, that his mother “missed her own brilliance.” She worked with actors and directors in harmony. She prepared reliably for her film roles. She was characterized by discipline, professionalism. She would read a text before going to sleep and just after waking up. She usually got up between four and five in the morning to practice longer than others and overcome her own weaknesses. She valued peace and quiet and family life. She stubbornly guarded her privacy. Irving Paul Lazar repeatedly urged the actress to write an autobiography, but Hepburn never decided to do it, fearing that publishers would begin to demand from her certain “flavors” about the family life of people with whom she worked over the years. Despite gaining movie star status, she left Hollywood in the early 1950s (1954) and moved to Switzerland to live a normal and peaceful family life. With her first husband Mel Ferrer, they settled in the mountain village of Bürgenstock near Lucerne.
Hepburn placed great importance on the education of her two sons, meticulously doing her homework with them. Sean Hepburn Ferrer recalled: “I remember school. The exams she endured worse than I did. She would quiz me in the evening and in the morning with a sleepy face. I remember how pleased she was with my good grades and with what understanding she accepted the “worse” ones. She spent a lot of time talking to her sons about various topics. “We talked about our plans and feelings, about people … about everything, but in that special, reflective way that you can only talk in the dark.” She provided them with tenderness, caring and support.
She trained ballet in her early teens. Her dream was to become a prima ballerina. Due to war malnutrition, which prevented the development of certain muscle groups, and her excessive height, she was forced to give up dancing. Her hobbies included cooking. She liked Italian cuisine, especially pasta with salad, which she ate once a day, and spaghetti “al tomato” with her own recipe sauce. Over the years she reduced the amount of meat, but was never a vegetarian. For humanitarian reasons she gave up veal, but stayed with fish, poultry and beef. Her favorite desserts included vanilla ice cream with maple syrup and chocolate, which she believed warded off all sadness. In her free time, she enjoyed reading. After many hours of work on a set, she usually took a nap in the afternoon. She was interested in fashion. Givenchy and Valentino were among the brands she valued most. She was an animal lover, especially yorkshire terrier dogs. In the early 1980s she bought a pair of Russell dogs. Living in Rome (in the Parioli district), where she moved after her marriage to Dotti, she went for walks every day. Returning to Switzerland, she continued her active outdoor pursuits. After dinner she would go out with her dogs and run with them in the vineyard behind her house. She complained of weak lungs for the rest of her life. Childhood whooping cough and a period of wartime starvation caused her asthma, though doctors warned her about pneumothorax.
The actress enjoyed maintaining social contacts. A close friendship bonded her with, among others, directors Billy Wilder (who said of her: “God kissed her on the cheek and that”s how it stayed”) and Terence Young, with whom she reminisced about the war times, actors Cary Grant, Fred Astaire (in 1957 they danced together in the film Funny Face, which was her dream) (the press suggested that there was an affair between the main roles on the set of Roman Holiday in 1952, which turned out to be untrue), costume designers Edith Head and dance instructor Marie Rambert.
Marriages and children
In July 1953, at a party staged in London for the premiere of Roman Holiday, Hepburn, through Peck, met Mel Ferrer, with whom she starred in the play Ondine (1954). On September 24, 1954, they had a civil wedding at the town hall in Bürgenstock, Switzerland. A day later, a Protestant church ceremony took place in a private 13th-century chapel. For the wedding, the actress wore a white organdy dress. Due to Ferrer”s busy work schedule, they limited their honeymoon to three days spent at a vacation home. In 1965 the couple moved to a country house near Morges called La Paisible. During the marriage, Hepburn tripled (she smoked more than three packs of cigarettes a day, bit her nails until they bled, and weighed just over 36 pounds. When she became pregnant for the third time, she took a one-year break from acting. Sean Hepburn Ferrer was born on July 17, 1960 in Lausanne. In the summer of 1967, she decided to file for divorce, which was finalized on December 5, 1968. She maintained a perfunctory relationship with Ferrer.
Her second marriage was celebrated on January 5, 1969, at City Hall in Morges, Switzerland, to Italian psychiatrist and University of Rome teaching board member Andrea Dotti. The couple first met in June 1968, when Hepburn and friends took a cruise ship on a Mediterranean cruise. Their son Luca Dotti was born on January 8, 1970 in Lausanne by Caesarean section. The actress wanted to have a third child, but miscarried in 1974. A year later, she bought a small villa in Gstaad. During the course of their marriage, Dotti displayed infidelity, often frequenting various nightclubs surrounded by other women. Their relationship ended in the spring of 1978, but they did not obtain a divorce until 1982, after thirteen years of marriage. They maintained a warm and friendly relationship, mainly because of their child. The actress admitted that “Dotti was not at all better than Ferrer”. According to Spoto, after the divorce, Hepburn fell into a deep depression and for the first time considered committing suicide.
Between 1949 and 1950 Hepburn was involved with French lyricist and singer Marcel Le Bon. Since 1951 (some sources said since 1952), the actress was in a relationship with James Hanson, seven years older English industrialist, who in the past had affairs with Ava Gardner, Jean Simmons and Joan Collins. She described him as “love at first sight”. The man, despite Hepburn”s objections, often interfered with her work schedule, including pressuring Paramount representatives to finish shooting Roman Holiday as soon as possible. The couple planned to marry, but in 1952 the actress decided to break off the engagement, recognizing that due to work she would not have enough time for her family. She issued a special statement in which she admitted: “When I get married, I want to be a real married woman.” In the early 1950s, she was involved with theater producer Michael Butler.
During the shooting of Sabrina, Hepburn had an affair with married William Holden, spending most of her time with him off set. When the actor admitted to his infertility after filming ended, Hepburn ended the relationship. During the making of The Nun”s Story (1959), the actress developed a closer relationship with Robert Anderson, the film”s screenwriter. Anderson”s novel After, published in 1973, is the story of his affair with Hepburn. The actress ended the relationship when Anderson, like Holden, admitted to congenital infertility. On the set of Two on the Road (1967), Hepburn had an affair with male lead actor Albert Finney. The couple rehearsed together in private, went to the beach, and ate alone. In later years, the actor admitted that his relationship with Hepburn was “one of the most intimate that has ever happened in my life.” According to Spoto, they split after Ferrer threatened the actress to file for divorce and accuse her of infidelity, which would have meant a temporary separation from her son.
After splitting with Ferrer, Hepburn briefly dated matador Antonio Ordóñez and Prince Alfonso Bourbon (1968), who was seven years younger than her. On the set of the thriller Bloodline (1979), she developed an intimate relationship with screen partner Ben Gazzara, who did not reciprocate the actress” affection. According to Spoto, the man treated the whole relationship as a “short-lived adventure without further commitments.” From 1980 until her death, Hepburn was involved with Dutch actor Robert Wolders, widower of Merle Oberon, whom she met at a Christmas party in 1979. They lived a quiet life in Switzerland, working together for UNICEF. The years spent with Wolders were described by the actress as “the happiest of her life”.
In a career that spanned 33 years, Hepburn appeared in films, television and on stage. She appeared in 28 on-screen feature productions.
Three films starring her were compiled in the top ten summaries of the year in the American box-office. Twelve films in which Hepburn participated were nominated for at least one Academy Award in various categories, and five of them won one statuette in any category. Ten productions featuring Hepburn, when adjusted for inflation, surpassed the hundred million dollar mark in domestic ticket revenue.
Four of her films: Roman Holiday (1953), Sabrina (1954), Breakfast at Tiffany”s (1961), and My Fair Lady (1964) were entered into the National Film Registry.
Hepburn”s legacy as an actress and personality endured long after her death. Today, she is considered one of the greatest actresses in the history of American cinema. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her as the 3rd greatest actress of all time, behind only Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis. Hepburn”s image has been associated with advertising campaigns and products for many companies, including Givenchy (1967), Exlan (1971) and Revlon (1988). Her performance of the song “Moon River” in Breakfast at Tiffany”s (1961), was ranked #4 in AFI”s 2004 list of the “100 Best Movie Songs.” Composer Henry Mancini, composer of film music for several productions featuring the actress, admitted: “It”s rare for a composer to draw inspiration from a particular person, from a face or behavior. But Audrey Hepburn is such an inspiration for me. Thanks to her I wrote not only ”Moon River”, but also ”Charade” and ”Two for the Road”. If you listen carefully, you can find something of Audrey in all three of these songs. Her thoughtfulness, her longing… sort of a slight sadness.”
On February 8, 1960, for her contributions to the film industry, Hepburn received a star on the Hollywood Avenue of Stars, located at 1652 Vine Street. In 1987, in recognition of her “significant contributions to the arts,” she was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture. On April 22, 1991, the Film Society of Lincoln Center held a brief retrospective of films featuring the actress in New York City, with screen partners and directors giving eulogies. Her life was the subject of the ABC biographical film The Audrey Hepburn Story (directed by Steve Robman), which premiered on March 27, 2000, starring Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Hyland. On June 11, 2003, the U.S. Postal Service issued a limited series of stamps with her likeness, by Michael J. Deas, in conjunction with the “Legends of Hollywood” edition. In May 2012, Hepburn was among the British cultural icons chosen by Peter Blake to appear in his new version of his most famous work – on the album cover of Sgt. Pepper”s Lonely Hearts Club Band – to celebrate the major figures of British culture the author admired.
The planetoid (4238) Audrey and a white tulip were named after her. A wax figure showing the actress as Holly Golightly can be found in more than a dozen branches of Madame Tussauds, including in Hong Kong. The Sophia robot, presented in 2015, was visually modeled after Hepburn. The actress remains one of 16 people in history to win an EGOT, or Emmy, Grammy, Oscar statuette and Tony.
The actress is seen as an icon of style and elegance. She drew attention to herself with her style of dress and distinctive appearance. Journalist Mark Tungate considered it a recognizable brand of actress. After the release of the film Roman Holiday (1953), many women, especially in Japan, took inspiration from Hepburn”s hairstyle from the film and decided to cut their hair in a pixie cut (short hair in the back, longer hair in the front). It became the actress”s trademark. Hepburn began to be considered an alternative feminine ideal that appealed more to the female gender than the male, compared to the stocky and sexier Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. She had short, dark hair, thick eyebrows and a slim figure, which was easier for younger women to emulate. On November 1, 1954, fashion photographer and costume designer Cecil Beaton described Hepburn in the pages of Vogue as “the public embodiment of our new feminine ideal,” adding that she “had, if you will, her prototype in France – Damia, Édith Piaf or Juliette Gréco. But it took the rubble of Belgium, an English accent and American fame to produce such a striking personality as our new zeitgeist. Before the war, no lady looked like her (…) On the other hand, it is the satisfaction of our historical needs. As proof, let us use thousands of imitations”. The British edition of “Vogue” repeatedly reported on her style over the next decade. Along with model Twiggy Hepburn, she was named as one of the key public figures who made weight loss fashionable. The actress was dismissive of opinions about her beauty, claiming she was too skinny, had a crooked nose, and too big feet for her size. “I never considered myself beautiful. I would rather have bigger breasts and narrower shoulders,” she argued.
In 1961, the actress was added to the International Best Dressed List, created by Eleanor Lambert. A year later, she was elected to the Fashion Hall of Fame for the third consecutive year. Hepburn is associated with a minimalist style, which was characterized by clothes with a straight cut, emphasizing the slim figure, monochromatic colors and expressive, sometimes unusual accessories.
The actress was also known for her longtime collaboration with French costume designer Hubert de Givenchy, who designed costumes for her for more than a dozen films in the 1950s and 1960s, including Sabrina (1954), Love in the Afternoon (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany”s (1961), Charade (1963), and How to Steal a Million Dollars (1966). They began working together at a time when Hepburn was beginning her career and he was establishing the first Givenchy fashion house in Paris. The two shared a lasting friendship, and the actress became his muse. Hubert de Givenchy created a personal perfume line for Hepburn, L”Interdit, a delicate, floral-powdery scent with notes of rose and jasmine, which went on sale in 1957. According to Rachel Moseley, elegance played a particularly important role in several of Hepburn”s films. “The costume is not tied to the character, it functions ”silently” in the mise en scène, but as fashion it becomes an aesthetic attraction in itself.” In addition to her partnership with Givenchy, the actress is credited with boosting sales of the Burberry trainers she wore in the film Breakfast at Tiffany”s. She was also associated with the Italian brand Tod”s. During her career, she worked with photographers such as Antony Beauchamp, Richard Avedon.
Hepburn”s influence as a style icon lasted for several decades, following the progression of her acting career in the 1950s and 1960s. Biographer Rachel Moseley notes that, especially after her death in 1993, she was increasingly admired, magazines frequently advised readers on how to achieve her look, and she remains a constant inspiration to fashion designers.
Audrey Hepburn was the recipient of many awards and honors during her 33-year career. She won or was nominated for her work in films, theater and humanitarian work. She was nominated five times for Academy Awards, of which she won one statuette – for her portrayal of Princess Anne in the romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953). Of her nine Golden Globe nominations, she won once. Posthumously, she was honored with a special Oscar for humanitarian work (1993). Hepburn was also a three-time winner of the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress and the Italian David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress, and a two-time winner of the New York Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress.
She has been repeatedly awarded for her artistic activity and contribution to the development and culture of film art. She was the recipient of, among others: Henrietta Award (1955), Cecil B. DeMille Award (1990), Screen Actors Guild (1992), honorary BAFTA (1992) and Tony (1968), and posthumously Primetime Emmy Award (1993) and Grammy (1994).