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Audrey Hepburn Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (86) | Personal Quotes (22) | Salary (16)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 4 May 1929Ixelles, Belgium
Date of Death 20 January 1993Tolochenaz, Switzerland  (appendiceal cancer)
Birth NameAudrey Kathleen Ruston
Nickname Edda van Heemstra
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch baroness, and her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and worked in business.

After her parents divorced, Audrey went to London with her mother where she went to a private girls school. Later, when her mother moved back to the Netherlands, she attended private schools as well. While she vacationed with her mother in Arnhem, Netherlands, Hitler's army took over the town. It was here that she fell on hard times during the Nazi occupation. Audrey suffered from depression and malnutrition.

After the liberation, she went to a ballet school in London on a scholarship and later began a modeling career. As a model, she was graceful and, it seemed, she had found her niche in life--until the film producers came calling. In 1948, after being spotted modeling by a producer, she was signed to a bit part in the European film Dutch in Seven Lessons (1948).

Later, she had a speaking role in the 1951 film, Young Wives' Tale (1951) as Eve Lester. The part still wasn't much, so she headed to America to try her luck there. Audrey gained immediate prominence in the US with her role in Roman Holiday (1953) in 1953. This film turned out to be a smashing success, and she won an Oscar as Best Actress. This gained her enormous popularity and more plum roles.

In contrast to the "sex goddesses" of the silver screen, Audrey Hepburn had a more wholesome beauty and an aura of innocence and class about her which gained her many devoted fans.

Roman Holiday (1953) was followed by another similarly wonderful performance in the 1957 classic Funny Face (1957). Sabrina (1954), in 1954, for which she received another Academy nomination, and Love in the Afternoon (1957), in 1957, also garnered rave reviews. In 1959, she received yet another nomination for her role in The Nun's Story (1959).

Audrey reached the pinnacle of her career when she played Holly Golightly in the delightful film Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)in 1961. For this she received another Oscar nomination. She scored commercial success again in the espionage caper Charade (1963). One of Audrey's most radiant roles was in the fine production of My Fair Lady (1964) in 1964. Her co-star, Rex Harrison, once was asked to identify his favorite leading lady. Without hesitation, he replied, "Audrey Hepburn in 'My Fair Lady.'" After a couple of other movies, most notably Two for the Road (1967), she hit pay dirt and another nomination in 1967's Wait Until Dark (1967).

By the end of the sixties, after her divorce from actor Mel Ferrer, Audrey decided to retire while she was on top. Later she married Dr. Andrea Dotti. From time to time, she would appear on the silver screen. One film of note was Robin and Marian (1976), with Sean Connery in 1976.

In 1988, Audrey became a special ambassador to the United Nations UNICEF fund helping children in Latin America and Africa, a position she retained until 1993. She was named to People's magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. Her last film was Always (1989) in 1989.

Audrey Hepburn died on January 20, 1993 in Tolochnaz, Switzerland, from appendicular cancer. She had made a total of 31 high quality movies. Her elegance and style will always be remembered in film history as evidenced by her being named in Empire magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson and Volker Boehm

Spouse (2)

Andrea Dotti (18 January 1969 - 21 September 1982) (divorced) (1 child)
Mel Ferrer (25 September 1954 - 5 December 1968) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (4)

Often cast opposite leading men who were considerably older than she was.
Often played classy High Society women.
Charming characters who try to wear their troubles lightly
Delicate thin frame

Trivia (86)

Was first choice for the lead in A Taste of Honey (1961).
Ranked #50 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Mother of Sean H. Ferrer, with first husband, Mel Ferrer.
Son, Luca Dotti (b. 8 February 1970), with second husband, Dr. Andrea Dotti.
Chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world.
After Wait Until Dark (1967) was offered the leads in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), 40 Carats (1973), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), The Exorcist (1973), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and The Turning Point (1977) but decided to stay in retirement and raise her sons.
Interred in Tolochenaz, Vaud, Switzerland.
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#8).
Turned down the film Gigi (1958) after creating the character in the Broadway non musical play.
Had a breed of tulip named after her in 1990.
Died on January 20, 1993, the day of Bill Clinton's first inauguration as President of the United States and the 67th birthday of Patricia Neal. They starred together in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).
She won the 1953 Best Actress Academy Award for Roman Holiday (1953). On March 25th, 1954, she accepted the award from the much revered Academy president Jean Hersholt. After accepting the award, Audrey kissed him smack on the mouth, instead of the cheek, in her excitement. Minutes after accepting her 1953 Oscar, Audrey realized that she'd misplaced it. Turning quickly on the steps of the Center Theater in New York, she raced back to the ladies' room, retrieved the award, and was ready to pose for photographs.
Christened simply Audrey Kathleen Ruston, her mother Baroness Ella Van Heemstra temporarily changed the actress' name from Audrey to Edda during the war, feeling that "Audrey" might indicate her British roots too strongly. During the war, being English in occupied Netherlands was not an asset; it could have attracted the attention of the occupying German forces and resulted in confinement or even deportation. After the war her father Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston found documents about his ancestors, some of whom bore the name Hepburn. This is when he added it to his name, which caused her daughter to have to add Hepburn to her legal name as well, thus Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston.
Was fluent in English, Dutch, Spanish, French, and Italian. She was raised bilingually; speaking English and Dutch (resulting in her unique accent). Throughout her life, she used multilingualism to great advantage with international press in both her careers as an actress and humanitarian.
Was briefly considered for the main role in Cleopatra (1963) but the part went to Elizabeth Taylor
She confessed to eating tulip bulbs and tried to bake grass into bread during the hard days of World War II.
Audrey felt that she was miscast as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) although it was one of her most popular roles.
Was trained as a dental assistant before making it big.
Henry Mancini said of her: "'Moon River' was written for her. No one else had ever understood it so completely. There have been more than a thousand versions of 'Moon River', but hers is inquestionably the greatest".
Turned down a role in the film The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) because, as a young girl in the Netherlands during the war, she had witnessed Nazi soldiers publicly executing people in the streets and herding Jews onto railroad cars to be sent to the death camps. She said that participating in the film would bring back too many painful memories for her.
Like Humphrey Bogart, Hepburn also starred in five of the movies listed by American Film Institute in its Top 100 U.S. love stories (2002). They are Roman Holiday (1953), ranked #4 on the list, Sabrina (1954) ranked #54, which co-starred Bogart, My Fair Lady (1964) ranked #12, Two for the Road (1967) at #57 and Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) #61.
During the battle of Arnhem, 16-year-old Audrey was a volunteer nurse in a Dutch hospital. The hospital received many wounded Allied soldiers, one of whom young Audrey helped nurse back to health was a young British paratrooper - and future director - named Terence Young. More than 20 years later, Young directed Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (1967).
In 1954 she was presented with her Best Actress Oscar for Roman Holiday (1953) by Jean Hersholt. In 1993 she was posthumously awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
During World War II, she lived in Arnhem, Netherlands. She worked with the Dutch Underground, giving ballet performances to collect donations for the anti-Nazi effort and as an occasional courier. She also received dance training and later studied ballet in London.
Presented the Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards four times (in 1955, 1960, 1966, and 1975), more than any other actress.
Told People Magazine that she was very self-conscious about her size-10 feet.
She was voted the 21st Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
In 1993 she became the thirteenth performer to win the Triple Crown of Acting. Oscar - Best Actress for Roman Holiday (1953), Tony for Best Actress in a Play for "Ondine" (1954) and Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement
Was fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy's muse, who dressed her for the films Sabrina (1954), Funny Face (1957), Love in the Afternoon (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Paris When It Sizzles (1964), How to Steal a Million (1966), Charade (1963) and Love Among Thieves (1987).
In 1996 the British magazine Harpers & Queen conducted a poll to find the most fascinating women of our time. She was in the #1 spot.
As of 2005, she is one of only nine performers to win an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy Award.
Her father was of approximately one quarter English and three quarters Austrian descent. Her mother was Dutch, with remote French and English roots. Some reports incorrectly identified Audrey as having Irish ancestry on her paternal side (which even she believed), but her father's only ties to Ireland were having resided there in the latter part of his life.
Followed winning the Academy Award for Roman Holiday (1953) with winning Broadway's 1954 Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) for "Ondine."
Voted #1 in TheAge.com's Top 100: Natural Beauties of all time.
She owned a Yorkshire Terrier called "Mr. Famous".
She was voted the 18th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
Was named #3 on The American Film Institute's 50 Greatest Screen Legends
Her biggest film regret was not getting the Anne Bancroft role in The Turning Point (1977). "That was the one film", she later admitted, "that got away from me."
When she failed to receive an Academy Award nomination for her role as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1964), Katharine Hepburn wired her with a message of encouragement: "Don't worry about it. You'll get it one day for a part that doesn't rate it." Ironically, when Audrey's next (and last) nomination came for Wait Until Dark (1967) in 1967, Hepburn beat her in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - in a part that arguably didn't rate it.
Her character in Funny Face (1957) was inspired by Suzy Parker, who made a fashionable cameo appearance in the film (her first film) in the "Think Pink" sequence.
According to her biography, "Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait", she made a vow to herself never to exceed 103 pounds. With the exception of her pregnancies, she succeeded.
Turned down the title role in Gigi (1958) to make Funny Face (1957). Ironically, her agent initially rejected the film, but Hepburn overrode the decision after reading the script. Her mother, Baroness Ella Van Heemstra, makes a cameo appearance as a sidewalk café patron, and her Yorkshire terrier "Mr. Famous" appears as the dog in the basket during the "Anna Karenina" train shot. Hepburn did not want to be separated from husband Mel Ferrer, so filming of the Paris scenes was timed to coincide with Ferrer's filming of Elena and Her Men (1956). Paris' unseasonably rainy weather had to be worked into the script, particularly during the balloons photo shoot scene. During filming of the Paris scenes, much of the crew and cast were on edge because of riots and political violence that were gripping the city. The soggy weather played havoc with the shooting of the wedding dress dance scene. Both Fred Astaire and Hepburn were continually slipping in the muddy and slippery grass. In "Funny Face" she was lucky enough to sing several songs. Her next full musical, My Fair Lady (1964), had her singing voice dubbed by Marni Nixon, much to Hepburn's disappointment. The face portrait unveiled in the darkroom scene was photographed by Richard Avedon. The film was shot back-to-back with Love in the Afternoon (1957).
According to director William Friedkin, Audrey was Warner Bros. first choice for the role of Chris MacNeil in The Exorcist (1973) after her box-office successes with the studio's productions The Nun's Story (1959), My Fair Lady (1964) and Wait Until Dark (1967). She would only agree to star if the film were made in Rome, so that she would be able to remain home to raise her sons. Both Friedkin and writer William Peter Blatty rejected the proposal, and eventually cast Ellen Burstyn.
Her performance as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) is ranked #32 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Asked for the part of Emma Jacklin in The Turning Point (1977) but Anne Bancroft had already been cast in the role.
Hepburn was diagnosed with appendiceal cancer on November 1, 1992 (not colon cancer, as it is often mistakenly called). The cancer spread into the lining of her small intestine. She had one foot of intestine removed in surgery and went through chemotherapy, but in a second surgery it was decided that the cancer had spread too far and could not be treated. Her son Sean H. Ferrer believes it had probably been developing over the course of the previous five years.
From 1980 until her death, she lived together in Switzerland with her partner, Dutch actor Robert Wolders.
The US Postal Service issued a 37 cent commemorative stamp honoring her as a Hollywood legend and humanitarian (2003).
Her famous "little black dress" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), designed by Hubert de Givenchy, was sold at a Christie's auction for approximately $920,000 (5 December 2006).
Was voted "most beautiful woman of all time" by the readers of "New Woman" magazine (2006).
Godmother of Victoria Brynner, the daughter of Doris Kleiner and Yul Brynner.
Saved the life of her friend Capucine, who attempted suicide on several occasions.
In Italy she was almost exclusively dubbed by Maria Pia Di Meo, except in her first two films (Roman Holiday (1953) (Vacanze Romane) and Sabrina (1954)) and in Green Mansions (1959) (Verdi dimore), where she was dubbed by Fiorella Betti.
She was presented with her 1953 Best Actress Oscar for "Roman Holiday" by actor and humanitarian Jean Hersholt. Forty years later she would posthumously receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her work with UNICEF.
As of 2007, she and Katharine Hepburn are the only "Best Actress" Oscar-winners to share a last name. Of course, they are not related.
Met future husband Mel Ferrer at a party hosted by Gregory Peck. It was Ferrer who sent Hepburn the script for "Ondine", which Hepburn agreed to play on Broadway, in which the couple co-starred.
Scottish writer A.J. Cronin was godfather of Sean H. Ferrer, her first child.
Once admitted that she would not have accepted the role of Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady (1964) if she had known that producer Jack L. Warner planned to have all of her singing dubbed.
Hepburn was offered the role of a Japanese bride opposite Marlon Brando in Sayonara (1957) but turned it down. She later explained that she "couldn't possibly play an Oriental. No one would believe me; they'd laugh. It's a lovely script, however, I know what I can and can't do. And if you did persuade me, you would regret it, because I would be terrible".
Broke her back during filming of a horse-riding scene in The Unforgiven (1960).
Won a 1968 Special Tony Award (New York City).
Was considered for the part of Tony Gromeko in Doctor Zhivago (1965), but Geraldine Chaplin was cast instead.
Was a close friend of Gregory Peck, Ben Gazzara and French actress Capucine.
Was a three-pack-a-day smoker.
In December 1992, President George Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work for UNICEF. She did not attend the ceremony, due to being ill with cancer.
Nearly married James (later Lord) Hanson, a businessman, after filming Roman Holiday (1953). An ivory satin wedding gown was designed by the Fontana sisters, but Hepburn called off the wedding at the last minute.
Her last humanitarian mission for UNICEF was to Somalia in September 1992. She was reported to have begun experiencing stomach pains towards the end of the trip, leading to her cancer diagnosis, two months later.
Returned to work nine months after giving birth to her son Sean H. Ferrer in order to begin filming Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).
Suffered from hydrophobia, a condition that severely hampered some of her scenes in Two for the Road (1967). When a shot called for co-star Albert Finney to throw Hepburn into a swimming pool, divers were placed on standby (off-camera) just to placate the actress after it was learned that she had a morbid fear of water.
During his acceptance speech honoring her work for UNICEF, Sean H. Ferrer dedicated his mother's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to "the children of the world".
Is one of the only 12 people who are an EGOT, which means that she won at least one of all of the four major American entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. The other ones in chronological order are Richard Rodgers, Barbra Streisand, Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols and Whoopi Goldberg. Streisand, however, won a Special Tony Award, not a competitive one, and Minnelli won a Special Grammy.
She donated all the salaries she earned for her final projects to UNICEF (Love Among Thieves (1987), Always (1989), and Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn (1993)).
Art was one of her longtime hobbies, she drew pictures of stories when she was a child to distract herself from chronic hunger pains during WWII. As an adult, she took up painting to pass time while pregnant with her son, Luca. Samples of her work can be seen in the book "Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit".
In addition to her first son Sean H. Ferrer, Hepburn became pregnant another four times by her husband Mel Ferrer (in 1954, 1958, 1965, and 1967). However, she suffered miscarriages on all of those occasions. She fell pregnant twice with Dr. Andrea Dotti; giving birth in 1970 to her second son, Luca, but miscarried in 1974.
Is one of twelve actresses to have won the Triple Crown of Acting (an Oscar, Emmy and Tony); the others in chronological order are Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley Booth, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Anne Bancroft, Vanessa Redgrave, Maggie Smith and Ellen Burstyn.
Ranked #82 in Men's Health 100 Hottest Women of All Time (2011).
She auditioned for, and did a costume test for, the role of Lygia in Quo Vadis (1951), but M-G-M turned her down because she was too unknown at the time and went with Deborah Kerr.
When Hepburn was in the final stages of her illness, the press took pictures of her while she was at home, and published the photos, much to the disapproval of everyone who knew her.
While working in a minor movie, We Go to Monte Carlo (1953), in Monaco in 1951, Hepburn was spotted by novelist Colette, who deemed her the ideal choice to play the title role in the upcoming Broadway version of her play "Gigi." Although she lacked experience and confidence, she ultimately got the part.
She never singled out any of her films as a favorite, but often spoke fondly of Roman Holiday (1953), Funny Face (1957), The Nun's Story (1959), and Charade (1963) in interviews. She reportedly did not enjoy working on The Unforgiven (1960) due to injuries sustained while shooting, and Wait Until Dark (1967) from the stress of her failing marriage. She was said to have also disappointed with the results of Paris When It Sizzles (1964) and Bloodline (1979). Nonetheless, she had a great reputation for her professionalism and almost always got along well with her co-stars and directors.
Studied Ballet in London under Madame Rambert.
Release of the biography, "Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn" by Donald Spoto.
Release of the biography, "Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit" by her son, Sean H. Ferrer.
Was the 40th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Actress Oscar for Roman Holiday (1953) at The 26th Annual Academy Awards (1954) on March 25, 1954.

Personal Quotes (22)

I never thought I'd land in pictures with a face like mine.
I was asked to act when I couldn't act. I was asked to sing "Funny Face" when I couldn't sing and dance with Fred Astaire when I couldn't dance
  • and do all kinds of things I wasn't prepared for. Then I tried like


mad to cope with it.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it's at the end of your arm. As you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.
I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.
My own life has been much more than a fairy tale. I've had my share of difficult moments, but whatever difficulties I've gone through, I've always gotten a prize at the end.
For me, the only things of interest are those linked to the heart.
I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people's minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.
I probably hold the distinction of being one movie star who, by all laws of logic, should never have made it. At each stage of my career, I lacked the experience.
My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses.
Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you're exactly the same.
I know I have more sex appeal on the tip of my nose than many women in their entire bodies. It doesn't stand out a mile, but it's there.
[talking about a severe coughing attack she had when she was six weeks old, slowly turning blue and finally stopping breathing until her mother's prayers and spanking brought her back to life] If I were to write a biography, it would start like this: I was born in Brussels, Belgium, on May 4, 1929 . . . and I died six weeks later.
[about her "comeback" in 1976] Whatever happens, the most important thing is growing old gracefully. And you can't do that on the cover of a fan magazine.
It's that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so 'don't fuss, dear; get on with it.'
[on filming Funny Face (1957), while coping with extreme Paris weather and a grumpy co-star] Here I've been waiting for 20 years to dance with 'Fred Astaire', and what do I get? Mud in my eye!
I think sex is overrated. I don't have sex appeal and I know it. As a matter of fact, I think I'm rather funny looking. My teeth are funny, for one thing, and I have none of the attributes usually required for a movie queen, including the shapeliness.
You can't let yourself worry when you play a classic role. I'm an introvert anyway. Playing the extroverted girl in Breakfast at Tiffany's was the hardest thing I ever did. If I had stopped to think about comparison with my predecessors as Eliza, I'd have frozen completely. But I loved this part. Eliza is vulnerable, but she has a beautiful inner strength. I made myself forget the problems. I threw myself into it and tried to make it me.
I understood the dismay of people who had seen Julie on Broadway. Julie made that role her own, and for that reason I didn't want to do the film when it was first offered. But Jack Warner never wanted to put Julie in the film. He was totally opposed to it, for whatever reason. Then I learned that if I turned it down, they would offer it to still another movie actress. So I felt I should have the same opportunity to play it as any other film actress. - On My Fair Lady (1964).
You can even say that I hated myself at certain periods. I was too fat, or maybe too tall, or maybe just plain too ugly ... you can say my definiteness stems from underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority. I couldn't conquer these feelings by acting indecisive. I found the only way to get the better of them was by adopting a forceful, concentrated drive.
[on "The Diary of Anne Frank"] I was given the book in Dutch, in galley form, in 1946 by a friend. I read it...and it destroyed me. It does this to many people when they first read it but I was not reading it as a book, as printed pages. This was my life. I didn't know what I was going to read. I've never been the same again, it affected me so deeply.
When I've made about 70 films and the public still wants me, then I shall think of myself as a star.
Only the absolutely determined people succeed.

Salary (16)

Roman Holiday (1953) $12,500
Sabrina (1954) $15,000
Producers' Showcase (1954) $150,000
War and Peace (1956) $130,000
War and Peace (1956) $350,000
Funny Face (1957) $150,000
The Nun's Story (1959) $250,000 + 10% of gross
The Unforgiven (1960) $200,000
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) $750,000
My Fair Lady (1964) $1,100,000
How to Steal a Million (1966) $750,000
Two for the Road (1967) $750,000
Wait Until Dark (1967) $750,000 +10% of profits
Robin and Marian (1976) $1,000,000
Bloodline (1979) $1,000,000 + % of gross
Always (1989) $1,000,000

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