Audrey Hepburn was a British actress and humanitarian. Recognised as a film and fashion icon, Hepburn was active during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

American Film Institute ranked her as the third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood. Later she was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

Audrey Hepburn Early Life

Audrey Hepurn was born on May 4, 1929 to a Dutch Baroness and a wealthy English banker.

She was the only child of Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, an Englishman, and Baroness Ella van Heemstra van Ufford Ruston, a Dutch aristocrat descended from the French nobility.

Hepburn’s parents were married in Batavia, Dutch East Indies, in September 1926. At the time, Ruston worked for a trading company, but soon after the marriage, the couple moved to Europe, where he began working for a loan company.

Audrey Hepburn
                    Audrey Hepburn

After a year in London, they moved to Brussels, where he had been assigned to open a branch office.

After three years spent travelling between Brussels, Arnhem, The Hague and London, the family settled in the suburban Brussels municipality of Linkebeek in 1932.

Audrey Hepburn as a Child

Hepburn parents gave her childhood sheltered and privileged childhood.

As a result of her multinational background and travelling with her family due to her father’s job, she learned five languages: Dutch and English from her parents, and later varying degrees of French, Spanish, and Italian.

From 1935 to 1938, Hepburn attended a private academy for girls in Kent. In 1935, her parents divorced and her father, who was a Nazi sympathiser, left the family.

She later called this the most traumatic moment of her life. Audrey moved with her mother to the Netherlands. Soon after, the Nazi army invaded Holland, Audrey suffered from severe starvation, anaemia, and respiratory problems.

The occupation ended when Audrey was sixteen. Her mother moved to London where Audrey attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945. Her parents trained her in ballet, in addition to learning a standard school curriculum.

Audrey Hepburn Young

Finally Collette discovered Audrey. He insisted that she should be casted as the lead role in Gigi.

Despite her lack of acting experiences, Audrey impressed audiences with her performance. Later producer of  Roman Holiday gave her the role as Princess Anne in William Wyler’s,  starring opposite Gregory Peck.

Audrey Hepburn Movies

She rose to stardom after playing the lead role in Roman Holiday (1953), for which she was the first actress to win an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award for a single performance.

That same year, Hepburn won a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her performance in Ondine.

She went on to star in a number of successful films, such as Sabrina(1954), The Nun’s Story (1959), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Charade (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), and Wait Until Dark (1967), for which she received an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations.

Hepburn won three BAFTA Awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role.

In recognition of her film career, BAFTA awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award. She also got Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and the Special Tony Award.

She remains one of only 15 people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards.

Audrey Hepburn Husband

In 1952, Hepburn became engaged to James Hanson, whom she had known since her early days in London.

She called it “love at first sight”, but after having her wedding dress fitted and the date set, she decided the marriage would not work because the demands of their careers would keep them apart most of the time.

Hepburn had two miscarriages, one in March 1955, and another in 1959, after she fell from a horse during the filming of The Unforgiven(1960).

When she became pregnant for the third time, she took a year off work to prevent another miscarriage. Their son Sean Hepburn Ferrerwas born on 17 July 1960. She had two more miscarriages in 1965 and 1967.

Hepburn claimed that she and Ferrer were inseparable and happy together, though she admitted that he had a bad temper.

Hepburn met her second husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti, on a Mediterranean cruise with friends in June 1968.

They married on 18 January 1969, and their son Luca Andrea Dotti, was born on 8 February 1970.

Dotti was unfaithful and she had a romantic relationship with actor Ben Gazzara during the filming of the 1979 movie Bloodline. Their marriage lasted thirteen years and they got divorced in 1982.

Audrey took time off from film making to raise her son. But in 1968, she and Mel divorced.

A year later, Audrey married an Italian psychologist, Dr. Andrea Mario Dotti and gave birth to another son, Luca. However, two years later, Audrey and the doctor separated and finally divorced in 1980.

In 1987, UNICEF appointed Audrey  as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Accompanied by her companion, Robert Wolders, she visited such places as Ethiopia, Sudan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.

Audrey Hepburn Death

in late September 1992, Hepburn began suffering from abdominal pain.

While initial medical tests in Switzerland had inconclusive results, a laparoscopy performed at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In early November revealed a rare form of abdominal cancer belonging to a group of cancers known as pseudomyxoma peritonei. Having grown slowly over several years, the cancer had metastasised as a thin coating over her small intestine.

On the evening of 20 January 1993, Hepburn died in her sleep at home. After her death, Gregory Peck went on camera and tearfully recited her favourite poem, “Unending Love” by Rabindranath Tagore.

Audrey Hepburn Legacy

In 2006, the Sustainable Style Foundation inaugurated the “Style & Substance Award in Honour of Audrey Hepburn” to recognise the high profile individuals that work to improve the quality of life for children around the world.

The first award was given to Hepburn posthumously and received by the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.

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