Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4 1929, Audrey Hepburn has remained a film icon, a decades long influence on fashion, and a model of humanitarian action. Born in Belgium, she was raised in Britain and in the Netherlands and experienced first-hand the privations and hardships brought on by World War II and Nazi occupation. Trained in classical ballet, she became an actress after being told that her height (she was 5’7″) would prevent her from becoming a prima ballerina. Hepburn began her career on the London stage before beginning to appear in films.
Hepburn’s first starring role in a film was in Roman Holiday (1953) which brought her near instant fame as well as that year’s Oscar for Best Actress. Arguably, her most famous role was as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What lover of fashion can forget that nearly iconic “little black dress” and picture hat combination? The character’s style and sophistication became synonymous with Hepburn herself and so it seems more than a little odd that Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the role and complained that Hepburn had been “grossly miscast.” Perhaps Hepburn’s most unforgettable portrayal is that of the cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, in My Fair Lady. Julie Andrews had originated the role on Broadway and Hepburn at first asked that Andrews be offered the film. She accepted the role after being told that either she or Elizabeth Taylor would get the part.
Here are other Hepburn films that you’ll find on the shelves at DCPL.
Although she was modest about her acting talents, Audrey Hepburn is among a handful of people who have won the Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award as well as three Golden Globe awards. In later life, Hepburn, who was fluent in several languages, became a dedicated and tireless worker for UNICEF as their Goodwill Ambassador. If you’d like to read more about this interesting and beloved film star and humanitarian, check out these titles from DCPL.
Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris.
Audrey Hepburn: an elegant spirit written by Hepburn’s son Sean Hepburn Ferrer.
Enchantment: the life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto.
For a in-depth look at Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the film’s impact on fashion, sexual politics, and other areas of culture try Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the dawn of the modern woman by Sam Wasson.