Biographies

Audrey Hepburn Biography: Success Story of an Iconic British Actress

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn

In this success story, we will be sharing with you Audrey Hepburn biography. She was a British actress, humanitarian, and fashion icon, who truly changed film and the world.

The impact that Audrey Hepburn had on the Western world was prolific. As an actress, she broke down barriers and dedicated her time and money into making the world a better place for those around her. With a history just as rich as her career, Audrey Hepburn is one of the most iconic personality to learn about and admire.

Hepburn was active in Hollywood’s Golden Age and has been ranked as the third greatest female screen legend on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars list by the American Film Institute. Hepburn was also inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, as a recognition for her fantastic sense of style, and the influence that she had in the fashion community.

Hepburn was often described as “gamine,” in regards to her beauty. With a slender body, a trace of a European accent, mystery and aristocratic bearing – Hepburn intrigued and impressed many people around her.

Her rise to fame started in 1953 when she played the lead role in Roman Holiday (1953). This film won her an Academy Award, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe Award. This set her as one of the most amazing actresses on the scene.

Hepburn has also won a Tony Award for her role in Ondine (1954), and countless other awards for various roles. Her film career spanned decades, and still lives on into the 21st century. For this reason, Audrey Hepburn was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from BAFTA, as well as the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and the Special Tony Award.

To this day, Hepburn remains one of only fifteen people to have won Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Awards, showing how prolific and impactful her career was.

As she got older, Hepburn decided to dedicate most of her life to UNICEF, rather than starring in films. UNICEF had been something she had been involved with since 1954, as well as working in some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia, and South America.

In 1992, Audrey Hepburn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with UNICEF, seen as gratitude for her work with UNICEF. It was clear that Hepburn wanted to dedicate her life to this to show how important it was her through the donations, time, and attention she dedicated to the movement.

To begin Hepburn’s story, it all began in Brussels in 1929. Little did the world know, that this was the day that one of the most iconic actresses and greatest humanitarians would be born.

Birth

Born on 4th May 1929, in Ixelles, Brussels, Audrey Hepburn spent her childhood in a mixture of different places. From Belgium, England, and the Netherlands. Her full name was Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston. While living in Amsterdam, she studied ballet with no other than Sonia Gaskell, the choreographer, dancer, and teacher. Ballet was her first passion, which she carried on until later in life.

Hepburn’s parents were, well, questionable, to say the least. Born into a very wealthy family, Hepburn’s parents were both amongst the upper class, which gave Hepburn quite the privileged early start to life. Her father was Joseph Victory Anthony Rushton (1889-1980), a British Subject. Her mother was Baroness Ella de Heemstra (1900-1984), who was a Dutch aristocrat.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Ella Van Heemstra with her daughter Audrey Hepburn, 1929

They married in September 1926 in Jakarta and had Audrey Hepburn less than three years later.

A little delve into Hepburn’s family life, perhaps explains her strong humanitarian views later on in life.

Family History

Hepburn’s father was born in Auschwitz and was the son of Victor John George Ruston, who was of Austrian and British descent. He was married once before, to a Dutch heiress, named Cornelia Bisschop. Though born Ruston, he later double-barrelled his name to Hepburn-Ruston, to seem more aristocratic. He wrongly believed that he descended from James Hepburn, the third husband of the Queen of Scots.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn with her father Anthony.

Hepburn’s mother was Ella Van Heemstra, a Dutch noblewoman. She was the daughter of Baron Aarnoud Van Heemstra, the mayor of Arnhem from 1910 to 1920. Ella married Jonkheer Hendrik Gustaaf Adolf Quarles van Ufford, an oil executive in Batavia, at the age of nineteen. They had two sons, Robert Alexander Quarles van Ufford, and Jonkheer Ian Edgar Bruce Quarles van Ufford, subsequently giving Audrey two half brothers. They divorced in 1925, and Hepburn’s parents married in 1926.

Hepburn’s parents spent three years traveling, before settling down in Brussels. It’s safe to say that Hepburn’s childhood was incredibly sheltered and privileged. She learned five languages – English, Dutch, French, Spanish, and Italian.

Hepburn’s parents were Nazi sympathizers and members of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Her mother was friendly with the Unity Mitford and encouraged Hepburn’s father, who was increasingly becoming anti-communist, to join the BUF. As the BUF party grew, Hepburn’s parents were openly involved in fundraising and recruitment. You can even find newspaper clippings, in which Hepburn’s mother was linked to the rise in fascism.

In 1935, Hepburn’s parents joined Mosley’s BUF delegation, to observe the conditions under the Nazis. They toured around schools, housing developments, factories, and autobahns, and even met Hitler himself. Ella enshrined a picture of them with the dictator and placed it on their mantelpiece.

In this same month, Hepburn’s father walked out on her mother and herself. Hepburn recalls her mother crying for days on end, as she mourned the parting of her husband. In 1939, Audrey and her mother moved to the Netherlands. In 1940, the Nazi’s invaded the Netherlands – this is where Hepburn and her mother would spend their war years.

Ella, Hepburn’s mother, would drink and invite German officers into the family home. She would go out with them and even drive into Germany for fun. She was once suspected of being an agent for the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, by the Dutch resistance.

After the war, the BUF was banned, and Ella focused her energy on creating connections with those who could help Audrey become a ballerina. Looking at this from the future, we know that Hepburn ended up one of the most successful film stars, let alone ballerinas.

In June 1940, the Battle of Britain began, and Hepburn’s father, who had walked out on his family in 1935, was arrested under the Defense Regulation 18B. He was considered an enemy of the state, due to his membership of the BUF and an associate of foreign fascists. This side of Hepburn’s family life isn’t often known.

Early Life

Hepburn’s very early life was very sheltered. With moving from one beautiful country to another, and having only the best education. Of course, it is essential to note that her parents had controversial political views and got divorced. Perhaps this affected Hepburn in later life.

The divorce was quite horrible for six-year-old Audrey Hepburn. She talked briefly about the divorce, stating it was the most traumatic incident of her life. Her father walked out on them, and she witnessed her mother extremely upset.

From 1935-1938, Hepburn attended boarding school in Kent, England. However, in 1939 her mother moved them to Arnhem in the Netherlands; here she thought they would be safe from the Nazi invasion. The Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940.

Hepburn began using the name “Edda van Heemstra,” as her English sounding name was considered dangerous. Her family was affected badly by the German occupation. She would say: “Had we known that we were going to be occupied for five years, we might have all shot ourselves. We thought it might be over next week.”

Her uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum, was executed in 1942. He was taken prisoner by the Nazis and later murdered. He was targeted because of his prominent family. Hepburn’s half brother was deported to Berlin to work, and her other half brother went into hiding to avoid having the same punishment.

During the war, Hepburn would perform silent dances. The money she earned from her performances was donated to the Dutch resistance effort. There have even been suggestions that Hepburn herself participated in the Dutch Resistance herself.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

During the war Audrey Hepburn performed in ballet performances to help the Dutch resistance, 1942

Hepburn witnesses Dutch Jews being transported to concentration camps. Certain moments like that stuck with her and could be the reason for her humanitarian efforts throughout her life.

The Allies landed on D-Day, and living conditions became worse in the Netherlands. The Dutch famine in the winter of 1944, was also traumatic for the Hepburn and her family as well as the rest of the country. There was a limited supply of food and supplies, and their diets became worse and worse. Hepburn became malnourished and suffered from anemia, respiratory problems, and edema.

Her family was hist badly financially, too. Many of their properties were severely damaged and destroyed. Like many European families, the war had a lasting effect on them. The war ended in 1945, and Hepburn moved to Amsterdam.

Her mother, after the financial hit the family took, had to work as a cook and housekeeper. Hepburn began ballet training from Sonia Gaskell – a prominent figure in ballet. By the time the war ended, Hepburn was 16 years old.

Entertainment Career

At 16, in 1945, Hepburn had moved to Amsterdam and had restarted her ballet training. In 1948, at the age of 19, Hepburn made her film debut and played an air stewardess in Dutch in Seven Lessons (1948). It was an educational film based on travel. It was initially an English documentary series based on the Netherlands.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn in her acting debut Dutch in Seven Lessons (1948).

Later that same year, Hepburn moved to London after accepting a ballet scholarship with Ballet Rambert, which was (at that time) based in Notting Hill. While here, she worked part-time as a model to support herself, and in the process dropped “Ruston” from her surname. Becoming Audrey Hepburn.

Rambert told Hepburn that, despite possessing an amazing talent, she would never become a prima ballerina due to her height and weak composition. The effects of the war and malnourishment were to blame for this. With this information, Hepburn made a choice to focus on acting.

Her mother continued to work menial jobs to support them, while Hepburn appeared in West End musicals and theatre shows. For instance, she appeared in High Button Shoes (1947) and Sauce Piquante (1950).

While performing in Sauce Piquante (1950), she was spotted by a casting director. During this time, she also had elocution lessons to develop her voice, these were with Felix Aylmer.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair. – Audrey Hepburn Click To Tweet

Hepburn registered as a freelance actress with the Associated British Picture Corporation. During this time, she appeared in BBC television plays and in minor film roles.

It was only in 1952, at the age of 23, that Hepburn was cast in her first major supporting role. She played the role of a prodigious ballerina in the Secret People (1952) by Thorold Dickinson. In which, she performed all of her own dance sequences.

After this, Hepburn was offered various roles. Notably, this included Monte Carlo Baby (1951) and Gigi (1951). Throughout these roles, attention towards Hepburn was increasing. She received praise for her roles, including those which were live on stage. Throughout this time, Hepburn was slowly carving her own title in the industry. Undoubtedly, it was during this time that Hepburn truly made a name for herself – leading her onto bigger things.

Roman Holiday

In 1953, Hepburn secured her first starring role in Roman Holiday (1953). Hepburn would play a European princess, who escaped from royalty to spend a night out with an American newsman. Elizabeth Taylor was initially the favorite for the role, but William Wyler, the director of the film, was blown away by Hepburn.

Wyler would say: “She had everything I was looking for: charm, innocence, and talent. She also was very funny. She was absolutely enchanting, and we said, ‘That’s the girl!'”

Wyler would also ensure that Audrey Hepburn’s was equal to Gregory Peck’s – initially she was supposed to be introduced in smaller fonts, under the title. The reasoning behind this? Wyler knew she would be a big star.

Roman Holiday (1953) was a box office success and Hepburn was praised drastically for her role. She even won an Academy Award for Best Actress, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award for Best British Actress in a Leading Role. Despite all of this being extremely unexpected.

Though not a newbie in the film industry, as this was Hepburn’s first starring role, it was a fantastic achievement to not only be so respected and critically acclaimed but to win an array of prestigious awards. Many were unsure about what the future held for Hepburn. However, she bravely moved on from Roman Holiday (1953) and made bigger strides.

Hepburn signed a seven-picture contract with Paramount. Time magazine featured Hepburn on the cover in 1953, and, around this time, she was also recognized as a style icon.

Hepburn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won a BAFTA in 1954, for her role in Sabrina (1954). The way she could accurately portray a princess, just as well as being a servant was an incredible talent.

In between filming, Hepburn also appeared on stage. From 1953 to 1960, she starred in a series of successful films, including The Nun’s Story (1959), and The Unforgiven (1960). Her acting career was genuinely thriving, and her personal life was seemingly great, too.

During the production of Roman Holiday (1953), Hepburn had met an American actor Mel Ferrer (August 25, 1917 – June 02, 2008). In 1954, eight months after meeting each other, the pair got married in Switzerland, while they prepared to star together in the film War and Peace (1956). Hepburn had two miscarriages before giving birth to their only son.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Of course, we have to mention Audrey Hepburn’s most popular movie, especially in the 21st century. Hepburn starred as a New York party girl in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). They initially wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the role. However, this would become a defining moment for Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn at Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

The little black dress has become an iconic picture, and the character is one of the best-known in American cinema. Hepburn would state that it was the hardest role that she ever played, courtesy of the extroverted nature.

Hepburn was nominated for an Academy Award for the Best Actress. That same year, Hepburn also starred in The Children’s Hour (1961) – this film did not get high praise, but still, Hepburn did. She had successfully become America’s sweetheart.

Charade

Charade (1963) is a comic thriller, in which Hepburn starred as a young widow who was pursued by several men.

Cary Grant was uncomfortable with the age difference between himself and 34-year-old Hepburn. For this reason, the screenplay was altered so that Hepburn was pursuing Grant – a change which was seen as extremely positive. This role earned Hepburn her third and final ever-competitive BAFTA award, as well as a Golden Globe Nomination.

After this, Hepburn starred in roles in Paris When It Sizzles (1964), and My Fair Lady (1964). Hepburn continued to have success in the film industry during her 30s.

Final Projects

After 1967, Hepburn decided to go into semi-retirement. She would make a comeback in 1976 with Robin and Marian (1976) and Bloodline (1979). However, her main focus was definitely on her family.

Her last motion picture role was in 1988, in which Hepburn made a cameo appearance as an angel in Steven Spielberg’s Always (1989).

Personal Life

Obviously, during all this success, Hepburn still had a personal life filled with marriages and sometimes scandal.

Hepburn’s first ever love was James Hanson (January 20, 1922 – November 01, 2004), a British businessman. They got engaged in 1952, but the wedding was canceled as Hepburn realized their careers would not work well together. Hepburn gave her wedding dress to an Italian couple, who still have the dress to this day.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn with her fiancé, James Hanson at Northolt Airport in London, England, September 10, 1952.

Hepburn also dated the American theatrical producer, Michael Butler, who was the producer of the insanely popular show Hair (1967). This relationship was short-lived.

Her next relationship was a little more scandalous – it was with William Holden (April 17, 1918 – November 12, 1981), a married man. During the filming of Sabrina (1954), the affair began, and Holden agreed to leave his wife and children and marry Hepburn. It was reportedly (understandably) a whirlwind.

However, Hepburn saw children in her future, and after Holden revealed that he had undergone a vasectomy, the actress ended the relationship. This relationship happened during 1953, and Holden’s career would later slide down with alcoholism, which would later result in his death.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn and William Holden on the set of Sabrina in New York, 1954.

In 1954, Audrey married Mel Ferrer (August 25, 1917 – June 02, 2008). Hepburn had two miscarriages during this marriage, one of which was due to falling and breaking her back while shooting for a film. Sean Hepburn, the couple’s only child, was born in 1960. Hepburn has two more miscarriages in 1965 and 1967.

During this marriage, there were rumors of affairs – from both Ferrer and Hepburn. Ferrer was accused of being unfaithful, and Hepburn was allegedly having an affair with her co-star Albert Finney. After 14 years, Hepburn and Ferrer divorced in 1968. She spoke to him two more times after the divorce.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer on the set of War and Peace, 1955.

Soon after the divorce, Hepburn fell in love with an Italian Psychiatrist, Andrea Dotti (March 18, 1938 – September 30, 2007). They met while she was exploring Greek ruins – the two married in January 1969 and had one child together. Luca was born in 1970, but Hepburn, unfortunately, had another miscarriage in 1974. Again, their marriage was filled with infidelity. Dotti would cheat on Hepburn with younger women, while Hepburn had an affair with Ben Gazzara, another actor. Dotti and Hepburn divorced in 1982, after 13 years together.

Hepburn spent the last years of her life with Robert Wolders (September 28, 1936 – July 12, 2018), a Dutch Actor. She would later say that these were the happiest years of her life.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn with Robert Wolders in Somalia, 1992 (© Robert Wolders)

Hollywood also covered up her parent’s controversial past. They stated her father was a banker and hid her mother’s skeletons in the closet. Her father died at the age of 91, they rekindled their relationship in 1959. Her father never once tried to capitalize off Hepburn’s success or money.

Her mother died in 1984, she lived with Hepburn right up until her death, and Audrey accompanied her body to the Netherlands. She was 84 years old.

Her personal life was filled with ups and downs and scandals. However, Hepburn still remained immensely respected, her personal life wasn’t and still isn’t the subject of many stories, Rather her amazing talent and humanitarian life.

Style Icon

As an iconic actress, Audrey Hepburn also gained popularity for her style. She has been labeled as one of the biggest and best style icons in the world. As a fashion icon, there were multiple reasons why she gained this title.

Whether it’s in her films, or with her street style, Hepburn always looked immaculate. Some credited this to her lean features, others have stated that she had an eye for fashion. The ices that she wore in her twenties are being worn by twenty-year-olds today demonstrating how ahead of the time she was.

The low maintenance haircut and basic clothing pieces spoke to a lot of women. Hepburn offered a realistic standard for women, giving them options that they could easily copy. It’s this, amongst other things, that classes her as one of the most influential fashion icons ever.

Hepburn always opted for tailored basics, rather than trendy lavish pieces. Skinny pants, dark shirts, flannels, and simple dresses were always her choice in attire. Choosing basics, like these pieces, has set Hepburn as a timeless fashion icon – something that many of the golden age actresses did not achieve.

Everything I learned I learned from the movies. – Audrey Hepburn Click To Tweet

Hepburn did not follow specific fashion trends and rather created her own. Hepburn concentrated heavily on accessories, and elevated classic styles in modern ways – this is something that still lives on today.

However, it was arguably the little black dress that became the true iconic dress. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) made Hepburn firmly the style icon that she is known as today. She became the epitome of 1950s glamour, exhuming in classic, elegant style.

Hepburn was also one of the only three people to wear the Tiffany diamond – one of the largest yellow diamonds around. She was also included in People’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in 1990, recognizing the legacy of her style and appearance.

As for style recognition, Hepburn was a member of the International Best Dressed List and received the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Lifetime of Style Award in 1992. It goes without saying, Audrey’s legacy spans much further than acting. Her style and fashion will also live on as they already have.

So much so, Mark Tungate, a British writer, stated that Hepburn was her own recognizable brand. It’s also been stated that she appealed to women more than men – in comparison to the more curvy Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. Hepburn has been cited as one of the key figures that made being extremely slim fashionable.

Hepburn was very often associated with French designer, Hubert de Givenchy. Givenchy would later become a crucial part of her life, especially throughout her death. Many have questioned whether Givenchy was made famous by Audrey Hepburn or vice versa. Needless to say, their relationship was extremely special and partly the reason why Hepburn was seen as so fashionable.

Humanitarian Work

Away from the glamorous side, and acting life, Hepburn was also heavily involved in humanitarian work. In the 1950s, Hepburn became involved in UNICEF, by narrating two radio programs that retold children’s stories of the war. In 1989, she was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. Upon this appointment, she stated that she was grateful to receive help while she was a child, and wanted to help other children that might be in similar situations.

Hepburn visited Ethiopia in 1988, where she visited an orphanage in Mekele. It housed 500 starving children, in which UNICEF would send food. The trip was vital for Hepburn. After the trip, she had a broken heart and felt desperate. She could not stand the situation that two million people were in imminent danger of starving to death. Many of those people were children. Red Cross and UNICEF workers who could help distribute the food had been ordered to leave the northern territories because of two simultaneous civil wars, and that was the reason the food could not be delivered. Hepburn visited rebel country and witnessed mothers and their children who had walked for ten days or sometimes for three weeks, looking for food. That shocking image was too much for her. Hepburn did not like the term ‘Third World’ because she believed that people were all one world. Hepburn wanted people to know that a large number of people was starving and suffering.

In August 1988, Hepburn visited Turkey through an immunization campaign. For Hepburn, this trip showed just how amazing UNICEF could be for the world. It took them ten days to vaccinate the entire country. A couple of months later, Hepburn took a trip to South America, visiting countries like Venezuela and Ecuador. Audrey would go on to say that UNICEF was a “miracle,” that brought water to communities for the first time ever.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. – Audrey Hepburn Click To Tweet

From 1988 to 1989, Hepburn visited multiple different countries. From Sudan to Honduras. She brought attention to world issues through her platform, as well as directly helping those that were trapped in a civil war or those that were caught in natural disasters.

About Hepburn, her hospitality and care for the people in other countries were incredible. For instance, she would never hesitate to enter dirty situations or hug humans that had diseases. It was even stated that children gravitated towards her – that they would come up to her and hold her hand, despite having no reason to trust many adults.

From 1990 to 1992, Hepburn carried on her humanitarian efforts. In October of 1990, she visited Vietnam to help provide clean water and immunization. These efforts in Vietnam were to form a connection with the government for national UNICEF hopefully. This was something that she continued to strive towards throughout her life.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

Audrey Hepburn helping a child in Somalia, 1992

A notable trip for Hepburn was her one to Somalia in 1992. She walked into something that she described as “apocalyptic,” despite seeing famine and destruction in other countries and communities. Despite being scarred by what she had seen, she still had hope, releasing one of her most famous quotes: “Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanization of politics.” Shortly after this trip, Hepburn was diagnosed with cancer.

When asked if she regretted traveling so much with UNICEF in the last years of her life, she appeared to be perturbed. Hepburn suggested that she would have missed so much of her life if she had not become part of UNICEF and traveled the world. In fact, many suggested that her only regret was that she couldn’t carry on her humanitarian work.

Later Life

Before her diagnosis, Hepburn dedicated a lot of her time to UNICEF. However, Hepburn also entered back into the movies in the 1980s. For Instance, Bloodline (1979), They All Laughed  (1981) and Always (1989) were all filmed in her later years.

The acting was still her passion, and the interest in Hepburn in starring in these films did not pass. She also appeared in TV series such as American Masters (1985), Love Among Thieves (1987), and Gregory Peck: His Own Man (1988).

The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters. – Audrey Hepburn Click To Tweet

Family life was also paramount for Hepburn. In her later years, she was spending her time with Robert Wolders. She traveled the world with Wolders for six months of every year, working together to bring attention to the needs of children.

Her Children, Sean Ferrer, and Luca Dotti both carried on their mother’s legacy. Sean Ferrer became an accomplished film director; he also wrote a book called “An Elegant Spirit,” which as all about Audrey Hepburn.

Luca Dotti always expressed a desire to stay away from the spotlight. He also wrote a book about his mother, titled “Audrey at Home, Memories of my Mother’s Kitchen.” Dotti has also inherited the UNICEF fund, which was dedicated to Hepburn.

Death

In 1992, Hepburn believed she had picked up a stomach bug while in Somalia while working with UNICEF to help children. Her death was announced by UNICEF.

She was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery in November. It was a sporadic type of cancer that had grown slowly over several years. After surgery, Hepburn began chemotherapy. However, she was given three months to live.

Sources stated that she was afraid of the pain, but not afraid of dying. Many said that she thought more about her family and friends while dying than she did about herself.

Hepburn wanted to spend her last Christmas in their home in Switzerland. Getting to her home, while she was so ill and fragile, proved to be extremely difficult. Their longtime friends Hubert Givenchy and Bunny Mellon stepped in to help.

They went to Switzerland by private jet, during which Hepburn was basically on life support and extra care and attention needed to be made. Her last Christmas would be spent in Switzerland, with her friends and family surrounding her.

Hepburn asked her friend to buy three special winter coats – one for Givenchy, Sean, and Wolders. She asked them to think about her when they wore them. She would also state it was the most beautiful Christmas that she ever had.

She spent her last days in hospice care in Vaud. Occasionally she would go for walks around the garden, but gradually become confined to her bed.

Michael Tilson Thomas was one of Hepburn’s longtime friends. He recalls his last conversation with Hepburn, which was a telephone call – just a couple of days before she passed away. He stated that she was concerned about him – something that was extremely reflective of her nature and attitude towards other people. He also said that she didn’t sound afraid at all.

On January 20, 1993, Hepburn died in her sleep. After her death, Gregory Peck would tearfully recite her favorite poem. It was seen as a loss not only to her friends and family but to the film and humanitarian communities.

Her funeral was held in Tolochenaz on the 24th of January. Both her ex-husbands attended her funeral, as well as executives of UNICEF and fellow actors such as Roger Moore and Alain Delon. Flowers were sent by Elizabeth Taylor and the Dutch Royal Family.

Her will stated that her two sons should be co-equal heirs to her estate. She left various precious jewels to her friends and families. Robert Wolders received two silver candlesticks, which would be worth around $900 in today’s time.

Givenchy was named the executor of the estate, alongside two swiss attorneys.

Recognition

Hepburn was recognized by many notable figures. Not just for her life in the films, but her struggles as a child, and her humanitarian efforts.

George H.W. Bush, the President of the United States at the time, presented Hepburn with a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with UNICEF. Her efforts to help starving children were recognized and praised by many all over the world.

The Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences awarded her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her contribution to humanity.

In 2002, at the United Nations Special Sessions on Children, UNICEF also honored Hepburn’s legacy to helping those around the world. They unveiled a statue named “The spirit of Audrey.” This can be found at UNICEF’s New York headquarters.

Audrey Hepburn Biography

The “Spirit of Audrey”
Statue

Her service that she provided for children is also recognized through the Audrey Hepburn Society – the United States Fund for UNICEF.

Hepburn is also recognized for her contributions to film and art. This includes acting, ballet, and fashion. She is one of the most successful actresses to have lived and will be forever known as the beautiful lady in the black dress and pearls.

Recognition towards her comes in many forms, both on and off the screen.

In 1991, she received a tribute from the Film Society of Lincoln Centre and remained a frequent presenter at The Academy Awards.

Legacy

Hepburn summed up her legacy, saying: “I’ve been particularly lucky.” That isn’t exactly the case, though. Through hardships, questionable parents, and hard work, Hepburn rightfully earned her place as one of the most successful actresses, and icons in the world.

Her legacy still lives on today, almost decades after her death.

The American Film Institute named Hepburn as one of the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. She remains one of the few celebrities to win certain awards, and wear certain accessories.

Since her death, she has become the subject of many biographies. In which the detail the turbulent early years, and successful later years. The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000), a documentary which starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and Emmy Rossum was extremely popular, showcasing that the interest in the legendary actress never really fell away.

Today, Hepburn’s image is commonly used in advertising. Many companies have colorized and digitally enhanced old clips from the Roman Holiday (1953) so that Hepburn can be featured in modern adverts.

For example, In Britain, Hepburn was used for a television advert for the “Galaxy” chocolate bar. This particular advertising effort gained a lot of attention.

In 2006, Gap donated a portion of their earnings from a “skinny black pants” campaign to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, showing her legacy on humanitarian work, as well as the fashion world.

Even Google produced a sketch for Hepburn on her 85th Birthday, demonstrating how widespread and influential the legendary actress really was.

Hepburn is largely remembered for such films as Roman Holiday (1953) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). With the introduction of the internet, Hepburn is also still commonly used as style inspiration – still to this day.

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. – Audrey Hepburn Click To Tweet

However, her real legacy lies with charity. Sean Ferrer, Audrey’s son, founded the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, shortly after his mother’s death. This was to ensure that her legacy lives on and helped children in need.

The US Fund for UNICEF also founded the Audrey Hepburn Society, again allowing her legacy to live on in a way that she would have wanted. To this day, it has raised almost a million dollars.

Her son, Luca Dotti, has also become a patron for the Pseudomyxoma Survivor charity, an organization that provides specific support to patients that suffered from the same, sporadic cancer that took Hepburn’s life.

Some of Hepburn’s items were also auctioned off. This included personal memorabilia and dresses. The money earned went to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, showing that her legacy, as expected, lies with the children she so desperately wanted to help.

Audrey’s life can be summed up in her own words: “I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time, it just happened to me without my ever seeking it.”

Packed full of talent, adventure, and love, Hepburn remained humble and positive, even towards the end.

We hope you have enjoyed exploring Audrey Hepburn biography and her success story. We hope you feel inspired to follow your dreams, and give back to the world.

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Sheldon Adelson Biography: Success Story of an American Entrepreneur