30 years without Audrey Hepburn

As published in CLAUDIA

Audrey Hepburn is one of the most famous and beloved actresses in Hollywood history, recognized equally for her beauty, talent, likeability, and activism. His personal life and successful career have yielded awards, books, documentaries, and biopics, but it’s the project directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Rooney Mara that we’re dying to see.

Audrey’s life certainly seems like a movie: born in Belgium, in 1929, Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston had a Dutch mother, of aristocratic origin, and an English businessman father. Educated mainly in England, her childhood was severely marked by the Second World War. That’s because her mother believed they would be safer in the Netherlands, a country that had promised to remain neutral in the conflict. But the Nazis invaded the country anyway and what Audrey witnessed was overwhelming. An uncle and cousin were executed, and one of her brothers was imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp. Like millions of others, she and her family nearly starved to death when the Nazis cut off food supplies. She once the family needed to eat tulip bulbs to survive. What later became a beauty reference (and which she disliked) was her slender figure, actually the result of malnutrition in her teens.

Even at a young age, he engaged in resistance to the Germans and when the War came to an end, he was finally able to return to England. Young Edda’s dream was to be a classical dancer, but she was too tall (especially at the end) and started working as a model, chorus girl, dancer, and actress. While participating in a film in Monaco, she caught the attention of the writer Colette, who personally chose her to star in the stage adaptation of her novel Gigi in London. At 22, he became a star in the West End, going straight to Broadway with the play.

At the time, director William Wyler was looking for an unknown face for the film Roman Holiday and was enchanted with her. At the end of the recordings, Gregory Peck – the biggest name in the cast – did something unusual in Hollywood: he asked that the name of the newcomer open the credits next to his. According to him, it was not a gesture of humility, just the immediate recognition that Audrey Hepburn would be an icon and he did not want to embarrass himself. Wyler shared the impression. “That girl,” he said when filming ended, “is going to be the biggest star in Hollywood.”

It could be argued that they were prophetic, although the experience helped them to have the correct discernment. After the film’s release in 1953, Audrey won the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role and followed up with a Tony for her performance in Broadway’s Ondine.

Audrey Hepburn‘s film appearance represented many changes. Thin, tall, and unfailingly stylish, the brunette actress was the counterpoint that reversed the image of blonde Hollywood stars (with Marilyn Monroe as the biggest reference). Next to Grace Kelly, Audrey was the epitome of elegance and discretion, a true “princess”. Her modern Cinderella roles were reinforced with hits like Sabrina, Funny Face, and Love in the Afternoon, so when she starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s many were shocked to see her as a call girl. However, the most controversial film with his name was precisely the musical My Fair Lady. Chosen to play Eliza Doolittle in place of Julie Andrews, who was famous for her singing talent and had originated the role on Broadway, made it seem like the eternally sweet Audrey got into an ego fight to get the role she was dubbed for (yes, by Marni Nixon). Julie was vetoed for not being famous, but Audrey had nothing to do with it. To make matters worse, Julie starred in the successful Mary Poppins and “took” Audrey’s Oscar for Best Actress that year. An involuntary drama that generated a lot of gossip at the time.

Nominated for an Oscar five times, including Wait Until Dark, in 1967, Audrey took a long break from her career in the 1970s, only returning to the screens in 1976, dedicating herself more to raising her children in Europe. , mainly in Switzerland. Married to actor Mel Ferrer in 1954, she had two children with him before they divorced in 1968. She then married Andrea Dotti, an Italian psychiatrist, with whom she had a son, but also divorced. Her last relationship was with Dutch actor Robert Wolders. His last film was Always, by Steven Spielberg, where he played an angel.

Even with all this success, it was the activist role that made Audrey once again a legend in Hollywood, thanks to her engagement with UNICEF, a job which she credited to her childhood experience of hunger and fear during wartime. As a Goodwill Ambassador, she traveled extensively in Africa and Latin America, and her visit to Ethiopia during the drought was one of the most poignant images of the 20th century, helping to bring attention to the plight of hungry children. Around the same time his colon cancer was diagnosed, but he continued to work. In 1992, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but on January 20, 1993, cancer took the actress from us. He was only 63 years old.

For everything she always represented, on and off screen, here is my tribute to the eternal Audrey Hepburn.


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