Reel and Retro

Presenting the Past

Audrey Hepburn

There’s not much I could say about Audrey Hepburn that the rest of the world hasn’t already said. Still, only a handful can claim such titles, such as icon, trendsetter, talented, compassionate, idol, and humanitarian. I’m sure I could list more, but you get the idea. She earned every title she donned.

Every. Single. One.

As one of the brightest stars we’ve ever had the privilege to be entertained by, it was her spirit and heart that made her light shine so bright. 

Her bloodlines were of royalty and she poised herself with such grace and elegance. Without knowing of the personal events she endured, you would think her life was a fairy tale existence. However, this darling princess experienced more than her share of tragedy.

10 Surprising Facts About Audrey Hepburn

The Blue-Blood Baby

Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston) May 4th, 1929, in Ixelles, Brussels. She was known to her family as Adriaantje.  Hepburn’s early childhood was sheltered and privileged. Audrey’s mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra (June 12, 1900 – August 26, 1984), was a Dutch noblewoman. Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston (November 21, 1889 – October 16, 1980), was British, born in Auschitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. He left when Audrey was just 6. Hepburn later professed that her father’s departure was “the most traumatic event of my life.”

However, before that, she learned five languages: Dutch and English from her parents, and later varying degrees of French, Spanish, and Italian. In the mid-1930s, Hepburn’s parents recruited and collected donations for the British Union of Fascists

In addition to other traumatic events, she witnessed the transportation of Dutch Jews to concentration camps, later stating that “more than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child.


She spent parts of her childhood in Belgium, England, and the Netherlands. Audrey was a teenager during wartime. After the Allied landing on D-Day, living conditions grew worse. With the Dutch famine that followed in the winter of 1944, she developed acute anemia, respiratory problems and, edema as a result of malnutrition.

After the war ended in 1945, Hepburn moved with her mother and siblings (her half-brothers Alex and Ian) to Amsterdam, where she began ballet training. Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945, during the first world war.  

Out Of Desperation Comes Success

As the family’s fortunes had been lost during the war, Ella supported them by working as a cook and housekeeper for a wealthy family. Hepburn made her film debut playing an air stewardess in Dutch in Seven Lessons (1948), an education travel film. Later that year, Hepburn moved to London after accepting a ballet scholarship with Ballet Rambert, which was then based in Notting HillShe supported herself with part-time work as a model, and dropped “Ruston” from her surname. After she was told by Rambert that despite her talent, her height and weak constitution (the after-effect of wartime malnutrition) would make the status of prima ballerina unattainable, she decided to concentrate on acting.

Her first significant starring role was as Princess Ann, in Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck… (Lucky girrrrl). But, we all know her best from her big hit, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This launched her into superstardom, and she became a fashion trendsetter and Icon. Hepburn stated that the role was “the jazziest of my career.”

The Compassionate Humanitarian

United States president George H. W. Bush presented Hepburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work with UNICEF, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posthumously awarded her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her contribution to humanity.

In 2002, at the United Nations Special Session on Children, UNICEF honoured Hepburn’s legacy of humanitarian work by unveiling a statue, “The Spirit of Audrey”, at UNICEF’s New York headquarters. Her service for children is also recognized through the United States Fund for UNICEF‘s Audrey Hepburn Society.

How does she do it all?!

I can barely manage to take a shower, going to work, and trying to write… All in the same day! No wonder she was so thin, she was too busy to eat. I don’t know for sure but, the girl had a lot going on! 

Other than being a super-star and humanitarian, she married  American actor Mel Ferrer, on September 25, 1954. Audrey had two miscarriages before the successful birth of her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer,  on July 17, 1960. She had two more miscarriages before they divorced in 1968, after a 14-year marriage. 

Marrying her second husband,  Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti, January 18, 1969. They had a son,  Luca Andrea Dotti, born on February 8, 1970. Audrey then had another miscarriage. The Dotti-Hepburn marriage lasted thirteen years and was dissolved in 1982.

From 1980 until her death, Hepburn was in a relationship with Dutch actor Robert Wolders, the widower of actress Merle Oberon.  In 1989, she called the nine years she had spent with him the happiest years of her life, and stated that she considered them married, just not officially.

To live an enchanted life such as hers would be an incredibly hard goal to achieve. She packed more into her life than most people could in a century.

In early November 1992, a laparoscopy was performed at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It revealed a rare form of abdominal cancer having grown slowly over several years, the cancer had metastasized as a thin coating over her small intestine. After surgery, Hepburn began chemotherapy.

She spent her last days in hospice care at her home in TolochenazVaud. She was occasionally well enough to take walks in her garden but gradually became more confined to bed rest.

On the evening of January 20, 1993, Hepburn died in her sleep at home. She was 63.

After her death, Gregory Peck went on camera and tearfully recited her favorite poem, “Unending Love” by Rabindranath Tagore.

Audrey’s son, Sean Ferrer, founded the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund in memory of his mother shortly after her death. The US Fund for UNICEF also founded the Audrey Hepburn Society: chaired by son, Luca Dotti, it celebrates UNICEF’s biggest donors and has raised almost US$100,000,000 to date. Dotti also became patron of the Pseudomyxoma Survivor charity, dedicated to providing support to patients of the same rare cancer Hepburn suffered from, and the rare disease ambassador since 2014 and for 2015 on behalf of European Organisation for Rare Diseases.

The Inspirator

Yeah, I’m not sure if that’s a word, but… she was unique. In 1954, fashion photographer Cecil Beaton declared Hepburn the “public embodiment of our new feminine ideal” in Vogue, and wrote:

“Nobody ever looked like her before World War II … Yet we recognize the rightness of this appearance in relation to our historical needs. The proof is that thousands of imitations have appeared.”

Hepburn was associated with a minimalist style, usually wearing clothes with simple silhouettes, which emphasized her slim body, monochromatic colors, and occasional statement accessories. In the late 1950s, Audrey Hepburn popularized plain black leggings.

Slim black trousers, flat ballet-style pumps, and a fine black jersey

This was one of her signature looks as well as the little black dresses.

This style was new at the time when women still wore skirts and high heels more often than trousers and flat shoes.

In her private life, Audrey preferred to wear casual and comfortable clothes, contrary to the haute couture she wore on-screen and at public events. Despite being admired for her beauty, she never considered herself attractive, stating in a 1959 interview that “you can even say that I hated myself at certain periods. I was too fat, or maybe too tall, or maybe just plain too ugly… you can say my definiteness stems from underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority. I couldn’t conquer these feelings by acting indecisive. I found the only way to get the better of them was by adopting a forceful, concentrated drive.”

In 1989, she stated that “my look is attainable … Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large glasses and the little sleeveless dresses.”

Who wouldn’t want to look like Audrey Hepburn?!

Absolutely stunning!

To get her look, I’ve added a couple affiliate links you may be interested in. 

Ok… I found more than a couple things for you. It’s a legitimate great start. 

Audrey Hepburn’s Filmography


1989 Always
1987 Love Among Thieves (TV Movie)
Baroness Caroline DuLac
1981 They All Laughed
Angela Niotes
1979 Bloodline
Elizabeth Roffe
1976 Robin and Marian
Maid Marian
1967 Wait Until Dark
Susy Hendrix
1967 Two for the Road
Joanna Wallace
1966 How to Steal a Million
Nicole Bonnet
1964 My Fair Lady
Eliza Doolittle
1964 Paris When It Sizzles
Gabrielle Simpson / Gaby
1963 Charade
Regina Lampert
1961 The Children’s Hour
Karen Wright
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Holly Golightly
1960 The Unforgiven
Rachel Zachary
1959 The Nun’s Story
Sister Luke (Gabrielle van der Mal)
1957 Love in the Afternoon
Ariane Chavasse / Thin Girl
1957 Funny Face
Jo Stockton
1957 Producers’ Showcase (TV Series)

Marie Vetsera

– Mayerling (1957) … Marie Vetsera
1956 War and Peace
Natasha Rostova
1954 Sabrina
Sabrina Fairchild
1953 We Go to Monte Carlo
Linda Farrel / Melissa Farrell
1953 Roman Holiday
Princess Ann
1952 Secret People
1951 Baby Beats the Band
Melissa Farrell
1951 Young Wives’ Tale
Eve Lester

1951 BBC Sunday-Night Theatre (TV Series)

– The Silent Village (1951) … Celia
1951 Laughter in Paradise
Cigarette Girl
1951 One Wild Oat
Hotel Receptionist

1950 Saturday-Night Revue (TV Mini-Series)

– Episode #1.3 (1950)
– Episode #1.2 (1950)
– Episode #1.1 (1950)
1949 Sauce Tartare (TV Movie)

The Audrey – Kathrine Connection

credit to

Audrey Hepburn is not related to Katherine Hepburn

There are a surprising number of questions on the web asking whether Audrey and Katherine are related. It has been a persistent misconception since Audrey came to prominence in the 1950s.

Katharine was the daughter of two wealthy Connecticut Americans; Audrey the daughter of Dutch nobility. There is no meeting of family lines.

They do, however, have a lot in common: talent, beauty, the same star sign, multiple acting awards. Both are listed in the American Film Institute’s greatest screen legends: Katherine at #1 and Audrey #3.

There is a humorous story of a series of telegrams during Paramount Pictures’ selection of Audrey Hepburn for the role of Princess Ann in Roman Holiday:

Studio very interested Hepburn … Ask Hepburn if OK change her last name avoid conflict Katherine Hepburn.

At such an amazing opportunity to play the lead female role in a Hollywood movie as a relative unknown with no acting training, most would have acquiesced. But not Audrey, who boldly replied,

“If you want me, you’ll have to take my name, too.”

Quotes by Audrey

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
Paris is always a good idea.
The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.
If I get married, I want to be very married.
The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.
I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone.
Everything I learned I learned from the movies.
I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Immortal Idols, featuring the AMAZING, Audrey Hepburn. Subscribe, so you don’t miss upcoming posts on movies starring our idol in keep it reel. Check out the blog in reel and retro, and as always…

Stay Fabulous, Darling!

xoxo Ms. Ericka xoxo

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