This is the first in what will be a series of insights into various Silver Screen Legends. It is only fitting, as it is May 4th, to celebrate the birthday of this incomparable and immortal fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn. A graceful and elegant star, she was unceasingly modest about her achievements. Someone whom would have been just as happy going unnoticed, many of those close to Audrey remember her demure and noble qualities, her love for children and life, and that undying kindness that made her just so inexplicably lovable.
Audrey Hepburn was born Miss Audrey Kathleen Ruston on 4th May 1929. She spent her childhood divided amongst Belgium, England and the Netherlands. A teenager during the Second World War members of her family had either been deported to German labor camps or even executed. She suffered malnutrition, respiratory problems and anaemia. The War had a profound affect on Audrey and would forever mark her. Despite the adversity she experienced during the War she managed to continue her passion for classical ballet. Audrey's first love before the cinema was classical ballet and she had spent many years during the War training to become a classical ballet dancer. She auditioned successfully for Marie Rambert's Ballet Rambert and so relocated to London to continue her studies in classical ballet. Audrey supported herself by modelling part-time, however ballet was not to be as the ravages of War had a profound affect on her body - malnourished and unfortunately too tall, she trusted her teacher's assessment and decided to retire from her goal to become a ballerina.
|Audrey the ballet dancer|
Audrey's first film was a Dutch educational film where she appeared as an air stewardess. Initially, this led to her being noticed for future modelling work prior to her moving to London to study at Ballet Rambert. Her first speaking role however was in the film, Young Wives' Tale (1951). Audrey managed to score a few bit-parts in films such as One Wild Oat, Laughter in Paradise and The Lavendar Mob. Audrey made her first significant film appearance in The Secret People (1952), a film about a prodigious ballet dancer - Audrey performed all her own dance sequences.
Audrey's first starring role and the film she touted as her most dearest film, was Roman Holiday (1953) where she played the role of Princess Ann, a young and vivacious royal whom falls in love with a commoner. For this role, Audrey received her first and only Academy Award, but also garnered critical acclaim by receiving in addition to the "great Oscar", a Golden Globe Award and BAFTA. This catapulted her into the spotlight and from there other such notable films such as Sabrina (1954), War and Peace (1956), Funny Face (1957), Love in the Afternoon (1957), The Nun's Story (1959), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Charade (1963), Paris when it sizzles (1964) and My Fair Lady (1964) quickly followed.
|"Breakfast at Tiffany's"|
Audrey Hepburn whilst juggling her film pursuits was also garnered a fashion icon becoming the muse for Givenchy, collaborating with him on many of her films. Her film work continued well into the 1980's, her last film was Steven Spielberg's Always (1989) where she appeared as an angel. Her final performance both haunting yet incredibly beautiful.
|Tirelessly helping those in need|
Throughout her film career however, Audrey worked tirelessly as a UNICEF Ambassador. Her association with UNICEF began in the 1950s however her first field mission was to Ethiopia in 1988. Audrey continued to express her concern and devotion to helping young starving children. She traveled to Turkey to participate in an immunization campaign in August 1988. Her posting also saw her travel to Ecuador and Venezuela. She worked tirelessly even four months prior to her death.
In 1992, Audrey was diagnosed with a rare abdominal cancer and after undergoing several operations and chemotherapy it was concluded that her cancer had spread too far and could not be completely removed. She spent her last Christmas surrounded by her family and passed away in her sleep, peacefully on the evening of 20 January 1993.
Audrey will forever be remembered, not just for her contribution to film and fashion but also for her undying efforts to help those that were less fortunate. A kind soul, a true angel and someone whom radiated love all around her.
"I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it"
Audrey Hepburn ~