(May 4, 1929 – January 20, 1993)
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Belgium. She was a British actress, fashion icon, and humanitarian. Hepburn remains one of the world’s most famous actresses of all time, remembered as a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century. Redefining glamour with “elfin” features and a waif-like figure that inspired designs by Hubert de Givenchy, she was inducted in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. Hepburn is ranked as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema by the American Film Institute and has starred in five of the movies listed by American Film Institute in its Top 100 U.S. love stories. They are “Roman Holiday” (1953), ranked #4, “Sabrina” (1954) ranked #54, “My Fair Lady” (1964) ranked #12, “Two for the Road” (1967) at #57, and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) #61.
Audrey Hepburn spent her childhood chiefly in the Netherlands, including German-occupied Arnhem during the Second World War. After the war ended, she studied ballet in Arnhem before moving to London in 1948 where she continued to train in ballet while working as a photographer’s model. Upon deciding to pursue a career in acting, she performed as a chorus girl in various West End musical theatre productions. After appearing in several British films and starring in the 1951 Broadway play Gigi, Hepburn gained instant Hollywood stardom for her role in “Roman Holiday” (1953), for which she recieved an Academy Award for Best Actress. Later performing in “Sabrina” (1954), “The Nun’s Story” (1959), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “Charade” (1963), “My Fair Lady” (1964) and “Wait Until Dark” (1967), Audrey Hepburn became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age who received nominations for Academy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTAs as well as winning a Tony Award for her theatrical performance in the 1954 Broadway play “Ondine”. Hepburn remains one of few entertainers who have won Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards.
As she grew older Hepburn appeared in fewer movies but devoted much of her later life to UNICEF. Her war-time struggles inspired her passion for humanitarian work and, although Hepburn had contributed to the organization since the 1950s, she worked in some of the most profoundly disadvantaged communities of Africa, South America and Asia in the late eighties and early nineties. In 1992, Hepburn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Hepburn was married twice, once to Mel Ferrer (1954 – 1968) with whom she had a son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer. She was married to Andrea Dotti (1969 – 1982) with whom she had another son, Luca Dotti.
After her divorce from Dotti was final, Hepburn lived with and was romantically involved with Dutch actor Robert Wolders from 1980 until her death.
Audrey Hepburn died in her sleep of appendiceal cancer, on the evening of January 20, 1993, at her home in Tolochenaz, Vaud, Switzerland. After her death, Gregory Peck went on camera and tearfully recited her favorite poem, “Unending Love” by Rabindranath Tagore. Funeral services were held at the village church of Tolochenaz, Switzerland, on January 24, 1993. Maurice Eindiguer, the same pastor who wed Hepburn and Mel Ferrer and baptized her son Sean in 1960, presided over her funeral while Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, of UNICEF, delivered an eulogy. Many family members and friends attended the funeral, including her sons, partner Robert Wolders, brother Ian Quarles von Ufford, ex-husbands Andrea Dotti and Mel Ferrer, Hubert de Givenchy, executives of UNICEF, and fellow actors Alain Delon and Roger Moore. Hepburn was interred at the Tolochenaz Cemetery, a small cemetery that sits atop a hill overlooking the village.