Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; 4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. Although modest about her acting ability, Hepburn remains one of the world’s most famous actresses of all time, remembered as a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century. Redefining glamour with “elfin” features and a gamine waif-like figure that inspired designs by Hubert de Givenchy, she was inducted in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, and ranked, by the American Film Institute, as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema.
Born in Ixelles, a district of Brussels, Hepburn spent her childhood between Belgium, England and the Netherlands, including German-occupied Arnhem during the Second World War. From 1939 on she studied ballet in Arnhem and after the war with Sonia Gaskell in Amsterdam. In 1948 she moved to London where she continued in ballet and performed as a chorus girl in various West End musical theatre productions. After appearing in several British films and starring in the 1951 Broadway play “Gigi”, Hepburn gained instant Hollywood stardom for playing the Academy Award-winning lead role in “Roman Holiday” (1953). Later performing in “Sabrina” (1954), “The Nun’s Story” (1959), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “Charade” (1963), “My Fair Lady” (1964) and “Wait Until Dark” (1967), Hepburn became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age who received Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations and accrued a Tony Award for her theatrical performance in the 1954 Broadway play “Ondine”. Hepburn remains one of few entertainers who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards.
She appeared in fewer films as her life went on, and devoted much of her later life to UNICEF. Her war-time struggles inspired her passion for humanitarian work and, although Hepburn had contributed to the organisation since the 1950s, she worked in some of the most profoundly disadvantaged communities of Africa, South America and Asia in the late eighties and early nineties. In 1992, Hepburn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She died of appendiceal cancer at her home in Switzerland, aged 63, in 1993.
See Audrey singing “Moonriver” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on Vimeo:
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“If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough.”
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness, For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people, For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry, For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day, For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.”
“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it all in at once.”
“I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe that loving is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”
“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm … As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
“A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease, and given them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential.”
“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.”
“I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it.”
“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once.”
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”
“Since the world has existed, there has been injustice. But it is one world, the more so as it becomes smaller, more accessible. There is just no question that there is more obligation that those who have should give to those who have nothing.”