Audrey Hepburn was born as Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. Her mother, Baroness Ella Van Heemstra, was of a Dutch descent, and her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian ancestry.
After her parents’ divorce, Audrey went to London with her mother where she went to a private girls school. Later, when her mother moved back to the Netherlands, she attended private schools as well. While she vacationed with her mother in Arnhem, Netherlands, Hitler’s army took over the town. It was here that she fell on hard times during the Nazi occupation. Audrey suffered from depression and malnutrition.
After the liberation, she went to a ballet school in London on a scholarship and later began a modeling career. As a model, she was graceful and, it seemed, she had found her niche in life–until the film producers came calling. In 1948, after being spotted modeling by a producer, she was signed to a bit part in the European film Nederlands in zeven lessen (1948). Later, she had a speaking role in the 1951 film, Young Wives’ Tale (1951) as Eve Lester. The part still wasn’t much, so she headed to America to try her luck there. Audrey gained immediate prominence in the US with her role in Roman Holiday (1953). This film turned out to be a smashing success, and she won an Oscar as Best Actress.
On September 25, 1954, she married actor Mel Ferrer. She also starred in Sabrina (1954), for which she received another Academy Award nomination. She starred in the films Funny Face (1957) and Love in the Afternoon (1957). She received yet another Academy Award nomination for her role in The Nun’s Story (1959). On July 17, 1960, she gave birth to her first son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer.
Audrey reached the pinnacle of her career when she played Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), for which she received another Oscar nomination. She scored commercial success again playing Regina Lampert in the espionage caper Charade (1963). One of Audrey’s most radiant roles was in the fine production of My Fair Lady (1964). After a couple of other movies, most notably Two for the Road (1967), she hit pay dirt and another nomination in Wait Until Dark (1967).
In 1967, Audrey decided to retire from acting while she was on top. She divorced from Mel Ferrer in 1968. On January 19, 1969, she married Dr. Andrea Dotti. On February 8, 1970, she gave birth to her second son, Luca Dotti in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland. From time to time, she would appear on the silver screen.
In 1988, she became a special ambassador to the United Nations UNICEF fund helping children in Latin America and Africa, a position she retained until 1993. She was named to People’s magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. Her last film was Always (1989) in 1989.
Audrey Hepburn died, aged 63, on January 20, 1993 in Tolochnaz, Vaud, Switzerland, from appendicular cancer. She had made a total of 31 high quality movies. Her elegance and style will always be remembered in film history as evidenced by her being named in Empire magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time”.
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