Audrey Kathleen Hepburn was a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century and one of the most beloved actresses of all time. She was born on May 4, 1929, in Brussels, Belgium. As a talented performer, Audrey Hepburn was known for her beauty, elegance and grace.
Born into a wealthy family her father an English banker and her mother a Dutch baroness. Her parents divorced when she was young and Audrey lived in the Netherlands and then London with her mother where she went to a private girls school. During much of World War II, she studied at the Arnhem Conservatory in The Netherlands. After the Nazis invaded the country, Hepburn and her mother struggled to survive.
After the war, Audrey continued to pursue an interest in dance. She studied ballet in Amsterdam and won a scholarship in London. She also began a modeling career. She was spotted by a producer while modeling and signed onto a small part in a European film in the Netherlands called 7 lessen in 1948. Later in 1948, Hepburn made her stage debut as a chorus girl in the musical High Button Shoes in London. She was a chorus girl in Sauce Tartare in 1949, but was moved to a featured player in Sauce Piquante in 1950. A year later, she made her feature film debut in One Wild Oat in an uncredited role. She went on to parts in such films as Young Wives’ Tales and a lead role in The Lavender Hill Mob starring Alec Guiness. At the age of 22, she felt she wasn’t getting the parts she craved and went to New York. She landed a star role in the Broadway production of Gigi, based on the book by the French writer Colette. Her first Hollywood movie was in 1951 calledThe Roman Holiday where she was nominated for an Oscar for the first time and won. She made many movies in the following years but the ones below were some of the most popular.
In 1961, she starred in a classic movie named Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Holly is a New York City girl who loves Tiffany’s, the jewelry store, and was determined to marry a Brazilian Millionaire. George Peppard plays her next-door neighbor, a writer, who suddenly falls madly in love with her. Trying to guess who the right man for Holly is not easy and watching how that romance blossoms is one of the exciting parts of this romantic story. Henry Mancini’s Oscar winning song ‘Moon River’ is played.
In 1963, another great movie she starred in was Charade. It’s about Reggie, who is Audrey Hepburn, who wants to divorce her cold, stubborn, wealthy husband, but someone throws him from a train before she gets the chance. Left penniless in Paris, and with police suspicion, Reggie realizes she is in serious trouble because her husband stole money from three men, and now they want it back. Charming Cary Grant comes to Reggie’s rescue, but he too has hidden secrets. With money nowhere to be found, Audrey and Grant go through Paris toward the startling solution.
In 1964, My Fair Lady became one of the most popular musicals of all time. Professor Henry Higgins, played by Rex Harrison, bets his friend, Colonel Hugh Pickering, played by Wilfrid Hyde-White, that he can transform a cocky flower girl Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn, in time for an important society ball. His gamble could pay off, but the spirited Eliza is more of a handful than the Professor could have predicted. As she slowly becomes more refined, and less reliant upon him, Higgins realizes, to his confusion, that he can’t live without her. The film was nominated for 12 Oscars and won eight.
Audrey Hepburn starred in many movies over her film career, but on top of that she became an important part with the charity UNICEF. This organization helped poor countries around the world with whatever they needed. The country’s she visited were: Ethiopia, Turkey, South America, Sudan, Bangladesh, and Somalia. These were the years of her service. Audrey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Ethiopia: March 1988. This was Audrey’s first assignment. In Ethiopia millions were starving from famine and drought. Many were blind because they had not had enough vitamin A. They had death camps set up due to epidemics. After the trip to Ethiopia Audrey said, “In Ethiopia, I went to the orphanage in Mecalee … five hundred children, whose parents died in the drought of 1985 … which is run by Father Chasade of the Catholic Church.
It was he who in desperation said, ‘if you can’t send me food for my children, then send me the spades to dig their graves.” Turkey: August 1988. The priority for Audrey in Turkey was to help the six most child killing diseases there: measles, tuberculosis, tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, and polio. She called Turkey “the most lovely example” of UNICEF’s ability to provide help. UNICEF and World Health Organization both teamed up to help children suffering from these six diseases. By 1990 with their high efforts they saved about 3 million lives each year. Another problem concerning children was in South America on October 1988. In South America children needed aid who were living on the streets. When Audrey was there she decided to build communities, slums, and shanty towns. These country’s were in Venezuela and Ecuador.
Sudan: April 1989. In Sudan she worked on a project named Operation Lifeline Sudan. Its goal was to send ferry food to southern Sudan. The ferry’s went down the Nile river. The ferry’s brought food, supplies, medicine, or what ever else they needed. Sudan needed these supplies because of the damages of the Civil War.
Bangladesh: October 1989. In Bangladesh they had problems with floods, famine also children on the streets. Audrey visited the remote areas throughout the country. There she would visit classroom environments. She would talk the the teachers and help them with teaching. She would also teach lessons to the children. After being in Bangladesh, she had an interview in 1989 in the US magazine McCall’s. She said,”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.”
Audrey Hepburn died on the 20 of January, 1993 in Tolochenaz, Switzerland. Audrey began complaining of abdominal pain and had laparoscopic surgery where doctors found cancer in her small intestine that had spread from her appendix. The year she died she went through several surgeries to remove the tumor but evidently the cancer had spread too much and she died. Her elegance and style will always be remembered in film history as evidenced by her being named one The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time.