Today marks the 85th birthday of the icon Audrey Hepburn. Many remember some of Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic roles such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina, and My Fair Lady. In 2000, her life story was told through a TV film adaptation starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, who looked eerily like Hepburn. Her performance in Gigi is what finally caught film producers attention in Hollywood and they asked her to come in and do a screen test. The camera seemed to love her, thus her Hollywood career began, but it was not all sunshine and daisies for this little starlet.
Hepburn was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1929. Her mother was a Belgium Duchess and her father was said to be a banker of Austrian and English descent. At the age of five, Hepburn was sent to a boarding school in England, where her mother arranged for her to spend time with a family to learn English customs and language. At the age of six, her father disappeared, leaving no forwarding address. He would later resurface in England. Hepburn has mentioned it was one of the most traumatic events in her life. Soon, she would begin ballet classes, which would lead to an opportunity to help with the war in a few years. In 1938 her parents officially divorced and Hepburn begged for her father to get visitation rights. However, he has never exercised those rights.
By the 1940s her country has been invaded by Nazi’s and she would be reduced to malnutrition and depression, due to lack of food. She would witness her Uncle and four other men be executed for publicity and to keep the Dutch in fear. Hepburn often warned that all of the horror stories about the Nazis were true. During this time she would become the star pupil in her ballet class. She was even known to pass messages along using her ballet shoes. She would find dancing to be an outlet for all she was going through, and would even perform “blackout performances,” which were held in secret behind closed doors and drawn blinds.
In the Battle of Arnhem the Nazi’s would win, and would tell all citizens to vacate within 24 hours, or be shot on sight. In 1945 she barely escaped Nazi’s attempts to round up women for their kitchens. She hid in her home for a month after that incident. By 1948 she was back in London performing in plays and small TV roles. The 1940s were a very hard time for Audrey Hepburn, as she remembers the dark times during the war. She was also a spokesperson for UNICEF.
Many shows since the 1970s have mentioned Audrey Hepburn films such as Sanford & Sons and Saturday Night Live. Recently though, Gossip Girl has given Hepburn the most credit. One of the lead characters, Blair Waldorf, is obsessed with all things related to Hepburn. There is even many dream sequences done during the TV series such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In the book version of Gossip Girl, it is even mentioned that the character Blair Waldorf, has her hair cut just like Audrey Hepburn’s to help her secure a spot in a movie.
Sadly Hepburn died in 1993 due to colon cancer. Audrey Hepburn will forever be remembered as the girl who suffered greatly during WWII, and still managed to climb to the top to become one of the most iconic Actresses to date. With such style, poise, and grace, it is easy to understand why she is still loved by fans today.
Opinion by Heather Tillman