Audrey Hepburn. A timeless, iconic, genteel beauty. Award-winning actress. Star of stage and screen. There aren’t enough great things that can be said about this ageless beauty who walked as a goddess among the living. Even years after her death, she is still held in such high regard as a woman of esteemed glamour and grace. How she perhaps touched the world the most was through her work as a humanitarian. It is for this reason that Audrey Hepburn, in this month of giving, is December’s Glossy Girl of the month.
Audrey Hepburn was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1929. The family would spend the next few years moving between London, Brussels, Arnhem and The Hague. In 1935, her father left the family. Two years later, Audrey and her mother would move to Kent where Hepburn was educated and started studying ballet. She had no contact with her father throughout her childhood. When World War II broke out, Audrey and her mother moved back to Arnhem. There they suffered greatly under the German occupation. During this time Hepburn went by the name Edda van Heemstra to not draw attention to an English sounding name in order to protect herself. After the war, the family moved to Amsterdam where Audrey continued her ballet training under a very prominent ballet teacher.
She accepted a ballet scholarship in London. Unfortunately, due to effects she suffered from malnutrition during the war, she was too weak to continue with ballet. After, she decided to take up acting.
Hepburn’s acting career took off when she was cast in the lead role in Broadway’s Gigi. This role won her the Theatre World Award.
In 1953, Hepburn achieved her first big film role success in Roman Holiday starring opposite Gregory Peck. The role landed her the Academy Award for Best Actress. That same year, she also received a Tony Award for her performance in Ondine. After this, she would go on to several successful films, such as War and Peace, Funny Face, Love in Afternoon and The Nun’s Story.
Perhaps the film role she is most popularly known for is Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961. Hepburn was also nominated for the Academy Award for her role as Holly Golightly.
Over the years, she made several other films of note, including the starring role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.
Hepburn continued acting in films here and there until 1988, at which time she decided to devote her time to humanitarian efforts. In 1989, she was named a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, a charity close to her heart. Upon her appointment, she said “I can testify to what UNICEF means to children. Because, I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II. I have a long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does.” Throughout her time with UNICEF, she travelled the world over to places like Ethiopia, Turkey, Somalia, Vietnam, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Sudan, and Bangladesh. There she met with world leaders, visited with local children, helped with food supplies. In general, Hepburn sometimes simply gave to people in need warm embraces and soothing words. Her work with the organization earned her a Presidential Medal of Freedom. UNICEF created the Audrey Hepburn Society (UNICEF USA) in honor of Hepburn’s legacy.
In her personal life, Hepburn was married and divorced twice and had two sons, Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti. The actress died at 63 years old from appendiceal cancer. Her legacy lives on, though, as she has been posthumously recognized for her achievements many times over.
Perhaps her most lasting recognition will be her style, which to this day still plays a role in shaping the fashion of the day. Countless designers, fashion editors and overall fashion role models routinely strive to achieve the iconic “Audrey Hepburn Style”.
A woman of class, dignity, style and heart, Audrey is every bit the Glossy Girl we should all strive to be like whether through fashion choices, artistic endeavors and humanity.
Feature photo courtesy Wallace Seawell / mptvimages.com