Audrey Hepburn

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Audrey Hepburn (Swiss, 1954)
Audrey Hepburn signature.svg

Audrey Hepburn (born May 4, 1929 as Audrey Kathleen Ruston in Ixelles / Elsene , Belgium , † January 20, 1993 in Tolochenaz , Switzerland ) was an actress of British - Dutch origin. She was one of the greatest female film stars in the 1950s and 1960s. For her performances she has received an Oscar and an Emmy as well as two Tony Awards and a Grammy . This makes her one of the few artists to have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards .

In her later years she devoted herself mainly to her work as a special envoy for UNICEF .

life and work


Audrey Hepburn ( Bürgenstock , Switzerland , around 1954)

Hepburn came in 1929 as a subsidiary of the British Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston (1889-1980) and his Dutch wife, Ella van Heemstra Baroness (1900-1984) in Belgium to the world and received after the principle of descent , the British citizenship . The family name was later changed to Hepburn-Ruston after her father discovered the name Hepburn on some of his ancestors' documents. Audrey Hepburn had two half-brothers, Jonkheer Arnoud Robert Alexander Quarles van Ufford (1920–1979) and Jonkheer Ian Edgar Bruce Quarles van Ufford (1924–2010), from her mother's first marriage to the Dutch aristocrat Jonkheer Hendrik Gustaaf Adolf Quarles van Ufford.

At six weeks of age, Hepburn became so sick with whooping cough that her breathing stopped and she had to be resuscitated. Regarding this event, she later said: "If I were to write a biography I would start like this: I was born in Brussels, Belgium, on May 4th, 1929 [...] and died six weeks later." Her father left the family when Audrey was six and her mother caught him with the nanny. Audrey lost all contact with him, and it was only more than two decades later that they met again with the support of the Red Cross. Despite the emotionally distant relationship, Hepburn supported her father financially until his death.

From 1935 to 1938 she attended a girls' school in the English county of Kent . When the Second World War broke out, the family moved to live with their grandfather in Arnhem in the Netherlands , where they witnessed the German occupation that began in May 1940 . To disguise her daughter's British roots, her mother changed her name from Audrey to Edda during this time. She also dropped her father's surname and called herself Edda van Heemstra during this time.

During this time Hepburn took ballet lessons at the Arnhem Conservatory . During the advance of the Allies in the winter of 1944/1945, she experienced the great famine in the Netherlands . “I was in Holland during the war […] and the food ran out. Last winter was the worst. The food was scarce and the soldiers got everything they had. There is, of course, a big difference between starvation and malnutrition, but I was very, very malnourished, ”she recalled.

After the war the family temporarily moved to Amsterdam . It was there that Hepburn stood in front of a film camera for the first time in 1948 for the advertising film Nederlands in 7 Lessen by the documentary filmmaker Charles Huguenot van der Linden . Soon afterwards she went back to England, where she trained with Marie Rambert to become a ballerina . However, Hepburn soon found that her dream of a dance career would not come true; the malnutrition during the war had affected her muscle growth, and as hard as she tried, she couldn't keep up with the other dancers.

To make money, she first worked as a model and starred in a few musicals in London's West End , followed by minor roles in British films such as One Wild Oat and Luck Came Overnight (both 1951). In One Wild Oat also was Roger Moore to see, but with whom she had no common scene. She later brought her friend Moore to his long-term commitment to UNICEF . In 2009 he told the Daily Express that he was very grateful that she had changed his life.

During the filming of Musik in Monte Carlo (1951), Hepburn happened to be living in the same hotel on the French Riviera as the writer Colette , who was looking for a leading actress for the Broadway production of her play Gigi (1944). As Colette saw the young actress, she exclaimed: "I have found Gigi!" So went Hepburn to New York , where she and May 1952 by November 1951 at the Fulton Theater , the Gigi danced. She received the Theater World Award for her performance and became aware of her in Hollywood .


Stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons were in discussion for the lead role in the romantic comedy A Heart and a Crown (1953) . Instead, the completely unknown Audrey Hepburn got the role of Princess Ann, who falls in love with a reporter ( Gregory Peck ) in Rome . A heart and a crown became a box office hit and made the 24-year-old a star overnight. For her first leading role, Hepburn also received the Oscar for Best Actress on March 26, 1954 .

In Hollywood in the 1950s, the "graceful elf" Hepburn was seen as a counterpoint to the lush ideal of beauty embodied by actresses such as Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren . Billy Wilder said of her: “This woman still manages to get her bosom out of style.” Hepburn was very popular with the cinema audience and has influenced fashion to this day; she is considered a timeless style icon. Wide, rocking skirts, the little black dress, oversized sunglasses, scarves, ankle-length 7/8 trousers and flat ballerinas were her trademarks, and her style was soon copied worldwide.

In 1953, Hepburn met the French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy while filming Sabrina . He had previously been asked if he could envision designing the wardrobe for "Miss Hepburn's" next film, and Givenchy was delighted because he was a great admirer of Katharine Hepburn . When Audrey stood in front of his studio, he was disillusioned: "I had imagined this face, this hair, Katharine Hepburn in her pant suits [...] Well, it was a disappointment." Nevertheless, an intimate one developed between Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn Friendship: henceforth he created her entire wardrobe, and she became his muse and model of choice.

Audrey Hepburn, who rose to star with just one film, was one of the leading film actresses until the late 1960s. Almost every one of her films was an economic success, and many are considered classics in film history. She worked with the leading male stars of her time, including Fred Astaire , Humphrey Bogart , Sean Connery , Gary Cooper , Albert Finney , Henry Fonda , Cary Grant , William Holden , Burt Lancaster , Peter O'Toole and Gregory Peck , and was supported by well-known directors such as George Cukor , Stanley Donen , Blake Edwards , John Huston , Richard Lester , King Vidor , Billy Wilder , William Wyler and Fred Zinnemann . A joint project with Alfred Hitchcock was broken up in the late 1950s because the script contained a rape scene that Hepburn did not want to play.

For Sabrina (1954) she received an Oscar nomination for best leading actress. In 1954, she appeared in the play Ondine on the side of Mel Ferrer on Broadway and received the Tony Award for best actress for her performance. Hepburn and Ferrer had fallen in love at rehearsals; they married just a few months later in September 1954. In 1956 the couple starred together in the monumental film War and Peace .

In her next film, A Sweet Face (1957), Hepburn was able to pursue her great passion, dancing, at the side of her film partner Fred Astaire . Some scenes were shot in a meadow on the outskirts of Paris, but after days of rain and the ground became increasingly muddy, the filming turned out to be difficult. Hepburn sighed: “I've waited 20 years to dance with Fred Astaire and what do I get now? Swamp! ”With Gary Cooper , she directed Billy Wilder and directed Ariane - Love in the Afternoon (1957) and starred in The Nun's Story (1959), for which she was again nominated for an Oscar, won a David di Donatello and a BAFTA Award received.

During the filming of the western Unforgiving (1960), Hepburn was pregnant and fell so badly from a horse that she broke a vertebra and shortly afterwards lost her child. It was one of three miscarriages that long overshadowed the private happiness of the actress.

With the birth of their son Sean on July 17, 1960 in Lucerne, Hepburn finally experienced motherhood. The family lived in Switzerland most of the time , but moved briefly to the United States to film Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). In her most famous role she played the hungry Holly Golightly and received her fourth Oscar nomination for her performance. Henry Mancini , who composed the score, said of the leading actress: “ Moon River was written for her. Nobody else has ever understood it so well. There are more than a thousand versions of it, but yours is hands down the best. "

Hepburn shot Charade (1963) with Cary Grant and Walter Matthau and subsequently My Fair Lady (1964). Since she did not have a trained singing voice, she was largely dubbed as a singer in this musical adaptation by Marni Nixon .

Audrey Hepburn at the
White House in 1981

In 1967, Hepburn played a blind man in Wait Until It Is Dark , for which she received another Oscar nomination. Mel Ferrer produced the film. It was the last collaboration of the couple, who divorced in 1968 after 14 years of marriage. The following year, Hepburn married the Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti, with whom she had another son (Luca Dotti, * 1970). In 1980 this marriage also ended in divorce.

In the late 1960s, Audrey Hepburn retired from the big screen. Until her death she only appeared in five films and was mainly devoted to humanitarian projects and her family. Her last role was that of an angel in Steven Spielberg's film Always (1989) .

Audrey Hepburn's grave in Tolochenaz (Switzerland)

In 1988 she was appointed a special envoy by UNICEF . Together with her partner Robert Wolders and the photographer John Isaac , she traveled to numerous countries until shortly before her death to support UNICEF projects, including Ethiopia , Sudan , Somalia , El Salvador , Honduras , Mexico , Venezuela , Ecuador , Bangladesh , Vietnam and Thailand . After her travels, she raised funds at charity events in Europe and the United States to showcase these projects. In 1992, working for UNICEF became increasingly difficult. On November 1, 1992, doctors diagnosed her with advanced colorectal cancer . She had surgery and chemotherapy. Audrey Hepburn died on January 20, 1993 in her home in Tolochenaz ( Canton of Vaud ) on Lake Geneva and was buried in the local cemetery. At the Academy Awards in 1993, she was posthumously awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award , the honorary Oscar for special humanitarian merits.


MD-11 Audrey Hepburn
  • Audrey Hepburn was neither related nor related by marriage to the actress Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003).
  • Her mother (Ella Baroness van Heemstra) decided after the war, in view of the horrors of National Socialism , in which members of her family in the Netherlands were also involved, to give up all titles of nobility and to renounce claims such as succession and other things.
  • One KLM Royal Dutch Airlines aircraft was named Audrey Hepburn. Commissioned in 1994, it landed for the last time in Amsterdam on October 26, 2014 after a flight from Montreal. The Audrey Hepburn was the last McDonnell Douglas MD-11 in the world to be used as a passenger aircraft on a scheduled flight.
  • The Wohlfahrtsmarke Audrey Hepburn Deutsche Post in 2001 was never output. It only exists in very few copies and is considered the most valuable modern postage stamp in the world.
  • In 1999, Hepburn's life was filmed under the title The Audrey Hepburn Story for a US television station. The main role was played by Jennifer Love Hewitt , who also co-produced the film.
  • In April 2006 Audrey Hepburn was voted the most beautiful woman of all time by the readers of the Indian lifestyle magazine New Women .


Monument in honor of Audrey Hepburn at her last residence, Tolochenaz


Audrey Hepburn's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame


Nominations (selection)

  • 1955: Oscar for best leading actress for Sabrina
  • 1955: British Film Academy Award for Best British Actress for Sabrina
  • 1957: Golden Globe for best leading actress (drama) for War and Peace
  • 1957: British Film Academy Award for Best British Actress for War and Peace
  • 1958: ( Golden Globe for Best Actress - Musical / Comedy ) for Ariane - Love in the Afternoon
  • 1960: Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) for a Nun's Story
  • 1960: Oscar for best actress in the story of a nun
  • 1962: Golden Globe for Best Actress (Musical / Comedy) for Breakfast at Tiffany's
  • 1962: Oscar for Best Actress for Breakfast at Tiffany's
  • 1964: Golden Globe for Best Actress (Musical / Comedy) for Charade
  • 1965: Golden Globe for Best Actress (Musical / Comedy) for My Fair Lady
  • 1968: Golden Globe as best leading actress (drama and musical / comedy) for Wait until it's dark and two on the same path
  • 1968: Oscar for Best Actress for Wait Until It's Dark


  • Ellen Fontana: Audrey 100. A dream trip in pictures - chosen by her family. Foreword: Sean Hepburn Ferrer, Edel, Hamburg, 2011, 192 pp., ISBN 978-3-8419-0062-3 .
  • Yann-Brice Dherbier (Ed.): Audrey Hepburn. Pictures of a life. Preface: Hubert de Givenchy , additional biographical essay: Axelle Emden, Henschel, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-89487-581-7 .
  • Ellen Erwin, Jessica Z. Diamond, Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn. The legend: pictures and memories. German by Georg Felix Harsch, Schwarzkopf and Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-89602-723-8 .
  • Sean Hepburn Ferrer : Audrey Hepburn: Melancholy and Grace. Henschel, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89487-475-9 .
  • Robert Matzen: Dutch girl. Audrey Hepburn and World War II. GoodKnight Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2019, ISBN 978-1-73227-353-5
  • Berndt Schulz : Audrey Hepburn. Lolita of the H line. In Adolf Heinzlmeier , Berndt Schulz, Karsten Witte: The immortals of the cinema. Volume 2: The glamor and myth of the stars of the 40s and 50s. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-596-23658-4 , pp. 202-209.
  • Donald Spoto : Audrey Hepburn - One Life. Krüger Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-8105-1863-7 , 399 pages, with b / w photos.
  • Norbert Stresau : Audrey Hepburn: Your films - your life. Heyne, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-453-86085-3 .
  • Sam Wasson: Never fall in love with a wild creature. Audrey Hepburn and "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Translated from the English by Dörte Kaiser, Steidl Verlag, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-86930-239-3 .
  • Bob Willoughby : Audrey Hepburn. Photographs 1953-1966. Taschen, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-8365-2737-8 .

Film documentaries

  • Audrey Hepburn - A star in search of herself. TV documentary by Gero von Boehm . Germany 2004, ZDF, 52 minutes
  • Audrey Hepburn Remembered . TV documentary by Gene Feldman and Suzette Winter. USA 1993, 62 min.
  • Legends: Audrey Hepburn. ARD, August 1st, 2006, 9:45 pm (45 min. About an extraordinary character with the title of the "most beautiful woman of all time")
  • Audrey Hepburn - Queen of Elegance. TV documentary by Emmanuelle Franc. France 2016, ARTE France, 54 min.

Web links

Commons : Audrey Hepburn  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Sean Hepburn Ferrer : Audrey Hepburn - Melancholie und Grazie , 6th edition, Henschel Verlag 2007, p. 16.
  2. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholie und Grazie , 6th edition, Henschel Verlag 2007, p. 15.
  3. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, p. 29.
  4. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, p. 13.
  5. ^ Walker, Alexander : Audrey: Her Real Story . Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1994, ISBN 978-1-85797-352-5 .
  6. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, pp. 34-36.
  7. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, p. 30.
  8. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, p. 15.
  9. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, p. 31.
  10. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, p. 63.
  11. Sir Roger Moore's Big Regret on Audrey Hepburn . In: Daily Express . December 12, 2009, accessed December 5, 2012.
  12. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholy and Grace. 6th edition, Henschel, 2007, p. 70.
  13. On the death of Audrey Hepburn: Funny face in paradise
  14. Cesare Cunaccia: Audrey's Song. (No longer available online.) In: Vogue Magazine Italy. May 31, 2010, archived from the original on February 18, 2013 ; accessed on January 20, 2018 . Max Ernst Walbersdorf: Audrey Forever! (No longer available online.) In: Vogue Magazin Germany. April 30, 2009, archived from the original on May 2, 2009 ; accessed on January 20, 2018 .
  15. ^ Genevieve Buck: Givenchy, Hepburn: Well Suited . The Chicago Tribune , September 10, 1989, accessed January 20, 2018.
  16. Audrey Hepburn Library.Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  17. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholie und Grazie , 6th edition, Henschel Verlag 2007, p. 83.
  18. Homage to Audrey Hepburn. (No longer available online.) German Film Museum , archived from the original on May 27, 2009 ; accessed on January 20, 2018 .
  19. Jump up ↑ The Unforgiven - Western by John Huston . ( Memento from April 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on July 16, 2011.
    Hans Schmid: Alles im Fluss . Telepolis , October 10, 2010, accessed January 20, 2018.
  20. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholie und Grazie, 6th edition, Henschel Verlag 2007, p. 166.
  21. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholie und Grazie, 6th edition, Henschel Verlag 2007, p. 20 u. 136.
  22. Sean Hepburn Ferrer: Audrey Hepburn - Melancholie und Grazie, 6th edition, Henschel Verlag 2007, p. 109.
  23. Jessica Seigel: Audrey Hepburn on a Role . The Chicago Tribune , January 20, 1992, reproduced on, accessed January 20, 2018.
  24. ^ Klaus Nerger: Audrey Hepburn ., 2001, accessed on January 20, 2018.
  25. Ben Mutzabaugh: The MD-11 makes its final scheduled passenger flight . USA Today , October 26, 2014, accessed January 20, 2018.
  26. Maria Baufeld: A false Hepburn is good for children in Africa . Welt Online , October 13, 2010, accessed January 20, 2018.
  27. RP ONLINE: Survey: The 100 most beautiful women of all time. Retrieved December 29, 2018 .
  28. ^ English language version of Nous irons à Monte Carlo from 1951 ( IMDb ).
  29. Live television play of the New York NBC , which had its world premiere on February 4, 1957 in the form of a live television broadcast with live switching between various sets. With the commercials between each of the three acts, the broadcast lasted a total of 90 minutes (net 76 minutes). A restored HD version of the 16 mm material has been available since May 2013.
    Thilo Wydra : Audrey Hepburn's marriage scenes: Better to kiss the dog than the prince . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , June 30, 2013, accessed on July 19, 2015.
  30. Minor Planet Circ. 36944