Audrey Hepburn was born to an English father and Dutch mother in Belgium May 4th 1929. During her childhood she was brought up in England before moving to Holland at the age of 10. From 1940-45 Audrey experienced the difficulties and horrors of Nazi occupation. In particular she saw many local people, including a cousin, shot for resisting the occupying forces. The occupation and lack of food during the latter part of the war left a lasting impression on the young Audrey. Her later involvement in humanitarian issues was partly inspired by her own experiences of suffering.
After the war she continued to study ballet in London, but after a while decided to try a career as an actress. This proved to be a successful move and soon she found her first acting jobs in first theatre and later film. Audrey Hepburn’s big break came when she was chosen to star opposite Gregory Peck in the film “Roman Holiday”. Audrey playing the role of a young English princess captivated audiences with her elfin beauty and mesmerising charm and humour. The film was a big success and Audrey Hepburn was awarded an Oscar for best actress. This paved the way for many other top roles in Hollywood’s big releases of the 1950s. Other notable films included Sabrina with Humphrey Bogart and Funny Face with Fred Astaire.
As well as featuring in the big blockbusters of the time Audrey was a versatile actress who could play a variety of demanding roles. For example she played the lead role of sister Luke in the film “The Nun’s Tale” – a film about a young nun whose religious vows are threatened by the Nazi occupation of Belgium. A very different role in 1961 was her portrayal of extrovert Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” She said this was one of her hardest roles as the character was completely different to her natural reserve. However despite the difficulties this role is one of the most celebrated in film history and helped to cement Audrey Hepburn’s role as one of the great female actresses.
After the 1960s Audrey Hepburn generally retired from making films. Instead she devoted herself to supporting the charity UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn would frequently visit troubled areas and act as a spokesperson for raising awareness of humanitarian issues. She felt intuitively the suffering of others and remarked on one occasion of visiting an Ethiopian camp for disposed children.
"I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can't stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children, and not because there isn't tons of food sitting in the northern port of Shoa.”
After returning from Somalia in 1992 Audrey Hepburn developed cancer of the colon. The disease proved to be untreatable in January 1993 she died in Switzerland aged 63. She is widely revered as a unique combination of feminine beauty, glamour and sincere concern for humanitarian issues.
Labels: Audrey Hepburn