|Audrey Hepburn |
HER SWINGIN' '60s CREDENTIALS: She was the beloved international sweetheart whose nine starring roles in such classy, vital films as Breakfast at Tiffany's ('61), Charade ('63), and My Fair Lady ('64) made her Queen of the Early-'60s Cinema.
CATEGORIES OF SWINGIN' CHICK: Movie Star
BIRTH: Audrey was born in 1929, making her 31 as the decade started. Her exotic birthplace: Brussels, Belgium. Her full moniker at birth: Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston.
IMPACT ON THE '60s: With a career stretching for over forty years, Audrey Hepburn was one of the most-admired actresses of all time. She regularly turns up on lists of the greatest screen legends in film history; in fact, in June '99 the American Film Institute released its distinguished list of the "50 Greatest Screen Legends," and Audrey was number three among the actresses, sandwiched between #2 Bette Davis and #4 Ingrid Bergman, with Katherine Hepburn as #1 (by the way, the other Swingin' Chicks of the '60s who made that list are Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sophia Loren). AFI also ranked her My Fair Lady 91st on its list of the 100 greatest American films of all time, and AFI had Wait Until Dark ranked #55 on the 2001 list of greatest film thrillers (#54 was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Katharine Ross, #1 was Psycho with Janet Leigh). And in June of 2001 Biography magazine's readers voted Audrey their #1 favorite film actress of all time (Cher was #3, Barbra Streisand was #10). One person Audrey had a profound impact on was actress Lesley Ann Warren, who as a young teen saw Audrey in Blake Edwards' Breakfast at Tiffany's and decided to become an actress; ironically, in '82 Blake Edwards would direct Lesley in Victor/Victoria.
CAREER IN THE '60s: Breakfast at Tiffany's in '61 brought 32-year-old Audrey one of her defining roles, that of spirited Holly Golightly, and her fourth Oscar nomination. Her portrayal of Holly was hailed by Douglas Brode in The Films of the Sixties as "the first significant female role of the new decade"; it also showed off her singing, as she performed "Moon River" (a song that composer Henry Mancini said was inspired by Audrey) in the movie and on the soundtrack. Charade in '63 successfully teamed her with another Hollywood legend, Cary Grant. The following year, My Fair Lady charmed audiences and critics around the world, and in it she delivered one of the most surprising and comical movie lines of '64, maybe in movie history: "C'mon Dover, move yer bloomin' arse!." After '67's underrated Two for the Road and the creepy Wait Until Dark (her fifth Oscar nomination), she retired to get divorced, remarried, and have a baby until 1976's wonderful comeback, the romantic Robin and Marian with Sean Connery.
CAREER OUTSIDE THE '60s: Audrey was born to wealthy parents in Belgium, but her father walked out on the family when she was only six, a defining trauma from which Audrey never fully recovered. Audrey grew up in London, attended private schools there, and at ten was evacuated to neutral Holland when World War II broke out. Holland soon became Nazi-occupied territory, and the Nazis executed one of Audrey's relatives. In her early teens Audrey worked for the Resistance by helping to raise funds and passing out anti-Nazi leaflets; during these war years she was taking ballet lessons at the Arnhem Conservatory of Music, which became an idyllic refuge for her. By '44 food was scarce, and she was suffering from anemia, asthma, and chronic migraines. After the war she and her mother relocated to Amsterdam, where Audrey intensified her dance training. When they moved to London in '48, Audrey's grace and beauty started to bring her modeling and acting jobs. A meeting with the writer Colette, and Colette's urgent recommendation to the producers, put 22-year-old Audrey on Broadway as the title character in Gigi. The show was a smash, and Audrey was a star. Days after the show closed in May of '52, she flew to Rome to film Roman Holiday, the movie that would bring her an Oscar as Best Actress in '54; in '54 Audrey won an Oscar and a Tony, for the play Ondine; at the time she was one of only two actresses -- Shirley Booth was the other -- to win both awards in the same year. Audrey followed that stunning success with some of the most acclaimed and popular films of the '50s: Sabrina in '54, Love in the Afternoon in '57, Funny Face in '57, and The Nun's Story in '59. Her sporadic post-'60s appearances were highlighted by Robin and Marian in '76 and Steven Spielberg's Always in '89, in which she played an angel all in white, "like a dream you wake up from smiling," said co-star Richard Dreyfuss. Sadly, the irreplaceable Audrey Hepburn died of cancer in '93. Later that year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in recognition of her years of tireless charity work for UNICEF; more than just a magnificent star, Audrey was a magnificent inspiration.
TALENT: Her acting talent was validated by an Oscar victory in '54 for Roman Holiday, her first film, an Oscar nomination in '55 for Sabrina, and then three Oscar nominations as Best Actress during the '60s -- Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Nun's Story, and Wait Until Dark. She was overlooked for her Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady when it came out that Marni Nixon had dubbed Audrey's singing voice; Audrey trained before the movie was shot, hoping to sing the lead, but the studio chose to dub her despite her pleas. About the dubbing, studio chief Jack Warner said, "We've been doing this for years. We even dubbed Rin-Tin-Tin." Some have even suggested that the Academy was punishing her for the dubbing AND for taking the Eliza role away from Julie Andrews, who had played it on Broadway, and that's why Audrey didn't even get nominated for Best Actress that year. Ironically, Andrews won the Oscar that year for Mary Poppins. In addition to acting, Audrey could dance, too, as shown in Funny Face, where she held her own with Fred Astaire.
HER '60s LOOK: Those expressive oval eyes, that graceful swan's neck, that sweet beguiling smile only Grace Kelly could match Audrey for sheer beauty. At a time when big brassy blondes like Marilyn and Jayne were dominating the fan mags, Audrey's distinctive ethereal elegance was thrown into high relief. She had the exquisite grace and poise of a ballerina -- not a coincidence, since she studied ballet at the Arnhem Conservatory. Her eternally slender figure may have been the result of the malnutrition she suffered as a pre-teen during World War II. She confessed to eating tulip bulbs and tried to bake grass into bread during the war; some days she went without food, drinking only water. As a teen her height was 5' 6" but she weighed only ninety pounds; as an adult she added an inch and 20 pounds. The '63 Movie Life Yearbook gave her measurements as 32.5-21-35. She had such a lithe, graceful figure as an adult that had she not been an actress, she could've been a top fashion model, and in fact she made the cover of Vogue in November '64; in the movies, she had one of the most famous collaborations with a designer in history, wearing Hubert de Givency's designs in Sabrina, Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Charade, Paris When It Sizzles, and How to Steal a Million. Late in the '60s she went mod with Mary Quant fashions for Two for the Road.
LIFESTYLE: When her father abandoned Audrey and her mother in May of '35, Audrey's emotional life was forever changed. She later admitted to being ever insecure in relationships, as she told Phil Donahue in '80: "When I fell in love and got married, I lived in constant fear of being left." In the '50s Audrey was romantic with William Holden, her Sabrina co-star; other names she has been tenuously linked to include actors Ben Gazzara, Peter O'Toole, Albert Finney, and John F. Kennedy. She was married to actor Mel Ferrer for most of the '50s and through to '68, giving him a son, filmmaker Sean, in '60. After divorcing Ferrer, she married a psychiatrist, Dr. Andrea Dotti, in '69, and she had his son, Luca, three years later, but that marriage also broke up in the late '70s. Her last and most serene relationship was with actor Robert Wolders, widower of Merle Oberon. Audrey and Wolders met in '80, and for the last dozen years of her life he was her live-in companion till she died of cancer on January 20, 1993.
EXTRAS: Audrey made nine Life magazine covers in the '50s, and one in the '60s (April 20, 1962) ... in Hollywood Babylon II author Kenneth Anger says Audrey begged out of Hitchcock's No Bail for the Judge because she didn't want to perform the graphic rape scene, especially after her recent role in The Nun's Story; Hitchcock's film was abandoned and he made Psycho instead ... Audrey's co-star in Breakfast at Tiffany's was almost Steve McQueen; he was offered the part that went to George Peppard, but he coudn't get out of his contract for the TV show "Wanted: Dead or Alive" ... here's a curious personal foible -- whenever she traveled, she took with her as many personal belongings from home as she could, then she'd unpack all the dozens of trunks and suitcases filled with things like picture frames and mementos from her home, set them all up in whatever hotel she was staying in, then repack them all and take them with her to the next destination ... actress Mona Washbourne once said about her: "Audrey Hepburn has exquisite manners, but my experience was that she lived and worked inside a cocoon; very insulated. She didn't really care to venture outside it or to meet any new people" ... director Orson Welles once said about her: "Audrey Hepburn is the patron saint of the anorexics" ... Richard Dreyfuss called her "perfectly charming, perfectly loving ... the best that we can hope to be" ... Audrey tells you all you need to know: "The most important thing is to enjoy life -- to be happy -- it's all that matters" ... her estate has its own Web site: Audrey's Web Site