Audrey Hepburn

I was never quite sure where my fascination with Audrey Hepburn came from but I know it struck around the time I was in my second year of college so I was about 19 or 20 years old. In college, a few times a year, or at least once a semester there were poster sales which would take place on campus and as Audrey Hepburn is one of those popular faces we see at such events, this could have been where my curiosity came from. I had a few posters in my room, the usual classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s shots and from here I began to become more and more interested in her style. She’s simple, chique and classy. She certainly has an air of sophistication about her which isn’t commonplace in today’s movie star world. I think film stars then and now are world’s apart in many ways and Audrey Hepburn epitomises the poise and grace of a true film star, something lacking in today’s society all too frequently.

Hepburn was born in Brussels on May 4th 1929 and spent some of her youth studying in a boarding school in England. During WW2, her education also brought her to the Netherlands where she spent time at the Arnhem Conservatory. During this time the young girl had had a keen interest in dance and pursued this love further when she went to focus on ballet in Amsterdam and later in London. She certainly had the figure of a dancer and perhaps some of her poise and grace is as a result of her time as a ballerina. In 1948 the Belgian took part in her first on stage production- a musical known as “High Button Shoes” in London. Following this, she also danced in “Sauce Tartare” and ” Sauce Piquante” in 1949 and 1950. Of course we all know Hepburn for her movie roles and this began to take off in 1951 where she took part in ” One Wild Oat” and “Lavender Hill Mob“.By now she was still quite young, a 22 year old, who was about to get the world to recognise her potential, made her New York debut in a Broadway production of “Gigi“. This was set in Paris in 1900 and it certainly sparked Hollywood’s interest in the Belgian beauty.Just a short time later, about 2 years, Hepburn starred along Gregory Peck in “Roman Holiday” where she plays the part of Princess Anne. As a result of this role Audrey Hepburn earned herself the title of Best Actress, an Academy award every actress strives to achieve.

Her Broadway career continued and the awards along with it. Hepburn won a Tony award for best actress in a play where she met her husband, Mel Fererr. The wedding took place in Switzerland in September 1954. In the same year, Hepburn took part in another of her more famous works “Sabrina” where she played a naive young girl who travels to Paris for a Summer and returns a far more sophisticated young woman and captures the heart of her neighbour. Following this, the young actress re-introduced her dancing routes by incorporating it into her next big role in “Funny Face”. This was a musical where Hepburn portrays a character who works in a book store and is discovered only to be transformed into a glamorous model. The clothes and costume for this one were designed by none other than Givenchy. At this point in her career Hepburn began to show her versatility and prove her credibility as an actress in more serious roles like those she played in “War and Peace” in 1956, “The Nun’s Story” in 1959 and in 1960 “The Unforgiven” In the same year she gave birth to her son, Sean.

The next role that Hepburn played is arguably the character that she is most known for, that of the carefree Gollightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” where she brings to life a fun and playful young lady loving life in New York but harboring a difficult past and a close relationship with her brother. Holly falls in love with a writer in the film and her vulnerability-not only for the man she falls for but also at the connection she has with her brother is portrayed beautifully by Hepburn and earned her a fourth Academy award nomination. Some of her later work included “My Fair Lady” in 1964 where she executes the story of a girl, Eliza Doolittle, who rises through society from a mere flower girl to a true lady in society. It’s interesting that quite a number of Hepburn’s characters move through a type of transformation. This can be said of “Sabrina“, ” Funny Face“, “My Fair Lady” and to an extent ” Breakfast at Tiffany’s“. Perhaps this is something that made Hepburn so appealing, fans would have seen her move through different transitions and watch her make these characters come to life. Hepburn, also played a difficult role in 1967 where she portrays a blind woman in ” Wait Until Dark” who uses her other senses to overcome those troubling her. This allowed her her fifth academy award nomination and in the same year she and husband Fererr divorced. Hepburn would soon marry again, this time to an Italian Psychiatrist, Andrea Dotti and the couple had a son, Luca, in 1970.

Audrey Hepburn continued to act up until the 1980’s and her final role was in “Always” in 1989. She later became an ambassador for UNICEF where she travelled to raise awareness for the cause. Her good work was marked by a Humanitarian award in 1993, however, Hepburn died before she received it. She passed away on January 20th 1993 from cancer of the colon in her home in Switzerland.

I think the fact that Audrey Hepburn played such a variety of characters made her appealing to a wide audience. Her roles were fun and quirky but also vulnerable and I believe this added to her already endearing qualities. She is a classic beauty, a great actress and an icon who has gained the respect of an audience the world over. Some love her for her style, others for her charitable work and others for her great acting throughout her career. I thought writing a piece about this actress was a must, not only does she currently grace the background on my blog, the classic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” image hangs on my wall and I also did my best to impersonate the gracious icon recently at a friend’s 30th birthday. There’s no doubt the legacy of this film star will continue and with it her beautiful style.

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