Photograph of Audrey Hepburn courtesy of Pixabay, July 16, 2014 – skeeze/Pixabay Photograph of Audrey Hepburn courtesy of Pixabay, July 16, 2014 – skeeze/Pixabay

Remembering Audrey Hepburn

Sat, Jan. 20, 2018
CAIRO - 20 January 2018: Audrey Hepburn is remembered as one of America’s most beloved actresses, despite being British. She won three Oscar awards with eight nominations throughout her career, a true star of Hollywood’s Golden Age.


Alas, her precious time on this Earth was cut short when she passed away of appendiceal cancer in Switzerland on January 20, 1993. She was 63 years old. Beyond her one-of-a-kind acting skills and screen presence, Hepburn was also remarkable for her golden heart, living by a life philosophy that always put others first. It is for this kindness that she is still cherished to this day alongside her time on the big-screen.

Hepburn was born in Belgium on May 4, 1929 to an English father and Dutch mother. Her parents divorced when Audrey was only eight years old, an experience she considered to be amongst the most traumatic of her life. Things sadly would not get any better for little Hepburn as she witnessed firsthand the horrors of the Holocaust in World War II and very nearly starved to death.


It was a miracle that these experiences did not shatter Audrey’s faith in humanity; instead, they propelled her to do as much kindness as she could, harbored by her deep understanding of suffering which fueled an undying desire to do good. In her youth, Hepburn trained as a Ballerina even while having barely anything to eat.

Once the war ended, Audrey and her mother moved to England, where she continued pursuing her Ballerina studies in London. By 1948, she had her first taste of what the world of acting was like after a stint in modeling. Soon enough, a film producer found her while she was modeling and she landed her first ever role in the European film, “Dutch in Seven Lessons”.

While it was a small role, it was just the beginning of Hepburn’s incredible career.


By the time Hepburn was 22 years old, she was discovered by the French novelist Colette, who insisted that she takes part in Broadway’s adaptation of her novel “Gigi”, a coming-of-age comedy about a young courtesan in the 1900s who is trained for the rich life. Despite her Broadway role being well-received, Hepburn was not casted for the feature-film adaptation of the story, released in 1958. Fortunately for her, she would found success in the 1953 film “Roman Holiday”, where her portrayal of runaway Princess Ann won her an Oscar award for Best Actress.


Her return to the Broadway also saw her win the 1954 Tony Award for her role in “Ondine”, a tale of a water nymph falling in love with a man. Reality mimicked fantasy in this case, as Hepburn married her on-stage love Mel Ferrer on September 25, 1954. The same year also saw another film hit with her performance in “Sabrina”, where she co-starred alongside other Hollywood Golden Age titans such as Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.


Pursuing heavier roles, she starred in an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's “War and Peace” in 1956, and went on to perform one of her most acclaimed roles in in 1959's “The Nun's Story”, which earned her yet another Academy Award nomination.


The 1960’s proved to be even more prosperous for Hepburn, not just because it marked the birth of her first child, but also saw her acting in the apex of her career, a film defining the Hollywood Golden Age and her entire career; “Breakfast at Tiffany's”. Directed by Blake Edwards and based off a novel by Truman Capote, this romantic comedy-drama was released to critical acclaim and further bolstered Hepburn’s already shining reputation as a talented actress, permanently ensuring her place as a Hollywood darling.


She then took on a more chilling role in the 1967 thriller “Wait Until Dark”, where she portrays a recently blinded woman who must defend herself when a group of criminals break into her house in search of a doll that contains heroin, which she had unknowingly obtained. It was this film that also marked her shift away from acting, as she began to focus more on her family and philanthropic pursuits.


Drifting away from Hollywood, Hepburn dedicated her time, effort and money to UNICEF, and was named a Special Ambassador in 1988. She frequently worked on the field, directly helping the sick and injured while reporting on the atrocities she witnessed. She was appalled at the conditions of children in many parts of the world, and fought bravely to do everything she could to improve their lives. Through UNICEF, Hepburn managed to do immense good, helping to build schools and provide aid relief.

While she died relatively young, Hepburn filled as much time of her life as she could to spread joy, whether it was through directly helping those suffering or filling the silver-screen with endless charm. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, and after her death received the The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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