Audrey Hepburn: The Fairest Lady (21 Mar. 1997)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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Title: Audrey Hepburn: The Fairest Lady (21 Mar 1997)

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Audrey Kathleen Ruston Graces Humanity
6 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Richard Kiley narrates this account of the life and career of Belgian native Audrey Kathleen Ruston, who sees tragedy at a very young age, from the divorce of her parents to the Axis destruction of her Netherlands community during World War II.

Audrey harbors dreams of studying ballet from a young age, when her father adds his grandmother's maiden name to form Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston, before sending her to school in Britain at age five, and before leaving the family by the time which Audrey reaches the age of eight.

Audrey's mother and two half-brothers by her first marriage, Alex and Ian, relocate to Arnhem, the Netherlands, before occupying German forces invade the community in a wave of destruction, leaving the remaining family and neighbors in dire poverty, leading her in great concern of humanitarian efforts during her devastating childhood.

As her half-brothers are controlled by the Germans to serve against the Allies during the remainder of the War, Audrey continues to study ballet, and performs before Dutch audiences in secret, as they forbid applause for fear of discovery by their captors. She considers these some of her most appreciated performances, as the quiet empathy speaks volumes.

After the war, Audrey drops her surname to become Audrey Hepburn, as she returns with her mother to UK to audition for the ballet. But by now, she is rejected as a contender for Prima Ballerina because of her age and scant physical condition.

And so, she continues to dance, when she is discovered for parts in minor film roles, as well as for a part in the Play "Gigi," which has her sailing for the States to star on Broadway, for which she studies acting and is well-received in the role.

This would lead to Audrey's acclaimed film career, throughout the remainder of the 1950's and 1960's, as she would accept challenges to attempt roles against type, to the delight of audiences and critics alike.

Audrey would value her family's privacy and spend many years at her estate in Switzerland, and would emerge to dedicate several years of her life with the humanitarian relief organization UNICEF, touring Africa, South America and Asia, and assisting with her first-hand tender loving care, bringing international attention to the plights of the needy in impoverished war-torn nations.

Audrey marries thrice, to Actor Mel Ferrer (1954–1968), with whom she has son Sean; Doctor Andrea Dotti (1969–1982); and Actor Robert Wolders (?–1993), with whom she has son Luca, after unfortunately suffering several miscarriages throughout her marriages.

Connie Wald describes Audrey as "a joy, a role model with not many like her whom one would like to emulate," Harry Belafonte as, "the embodiment of the best in the human heart, mind and soul," and Richard Dreyfuss as, "the best we could possibly be, perfectly lovely and charming, a dream of dreams."

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Audrey's Friend Connie Wald, Audrey's Son Sean H. Ferrer, Actors Harry Belafonte, Richard Dreyfuss, Roddy McDowall, and Robert Wolders, Director Blake Edwards, and Biographer Barry Paris.

Archive footage includes Audrey Hepburn with Co-stars Eddie Albert, Sean Connery, Edith Evans, Albert Finney, William Holden, Shirley McClain and Gregory Peck in speaking parts, as well as Rex Harrison, George Peppard and others in non-speaking parts.

Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Audrey through the years, in scenes from "Monte Carlo Baby" (1951), "Roman Holiday" (1953), "Sabrina" (1954), "War and Peace" (1956), "Funny Face" (1957), "The Nun's Story" (1959), "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961), "The Children's Hour" (1961), "My Fair Lady" (1964), "Two for the Road" (1967), "Wait Until Dark" (1967), "Robin and Marian" (1976) and "Always" (1989), plus a 1951 Screen-test and a Broadway promotional announcement.

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