Now that we’ve finished up with July (and my focus on Screen Team Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), we can move on to August’s Star! That, of course, would be actress Audrey Hepburn (as indicated by my homepage)! We’re still not back to doing this as a blogathon, but you’re still welcome to contribute this month if you would like to!
Table Of Contents
Quick Film Career Bio
Birth: May 4, 1929
Death: January 20, 1993
On May 4, 1929, Audrey Kathleen Ruston was born to Baroness Ella van Heemstra and Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. The family continued to move around Europe for a few years, but Audrey’s parents fought frequently (until her father left the family in 1935, with their divorce becoming official in 1938). Audrey had been enrolled in an English boarding school, but she was brought back to her family’s estate in Arnhem when Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. While in the Netherlands, Audrey was enrolled in the Arnhem Conservatory, where she continued some ballet training that she had begun in England. The country’s neutrality didn’t last long, as Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940. She did her bit for the war effort by doing dance performances to help raise money for the Dutch resistance and by helping deliver secret messages. After D-Day, her family struggled (like many others) with getting enough food, which caused her to suffer from malnutrition and anemia. With the end of the war, she tried to continue with her ballet, but her health issues made it impossible for her to be a prima ballerina.
By this time, Audrey had already made her film debut in an educational travel film called Dutch In Seven Lessons (1948). Since she couldn’t be a prima ballerina, she decided to focus on being an actress, and appeared as a chorus girl in numerous stage productions, while also taking elocution lessons. She was discovered by an Ealing Studios casting director, and appeared in small roles in a number of films for the studio. While making Monte Carlo Baby (1951), she met French novelist and playwright Colette, who decided to cast her as the titular character in the Broadway show Gigi. She received rave reviews for her performance, attracting the attention of film director William Wyler, who waited for the show to finish so that she could do the film Roman Holiday (1953). With the film becoming a hit with audiences and her winning the Oscar for Best Actress, she signed with Paramount Pictures and followed it up with another Oscar nomination for her role in Sabrina (1954). As part of her contract with Paramount, she was still able to make appearances on the stage, including a 1954 production of Ondine (where she began a relationship with Mel Ferrer, who would become her first husband after the play closed). Back in Hollywood, she worked with her new husband in the 1956 adaptation of War And Peace, before fulfilling her dream of working with Fred Astaire in Funny Face (1957). The filming of Funny Face took place in France, and she stayed there to quickly follow up with Love In The Afternoon (1957). A few years later, she was nominated once again for an Oscar for her role in The Nun’s Story (1959). That success was sandwiched in between Green Mansions (1959) and The Unforgiven (1960), neither of which made much of an impact with audiences.
Going on into the 1960s, she had her next big hit in the form of Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) (her fourth Oscar nomination). Within that same year, she also starred opposite Shirley MacLaine in The Children’s Hour (1961). She followed that up by reuniting with William Holden for Paris When It Sizzles (1964), and finally working with Cary Grant in Charade (1963) (which arrived in theatres first, even though it was filmed after Paris When It Sizzles). Next after that was another one of her biggest films, the musical My Fair Lady (1964), where she got to play the role of Eliza Doolittle (originated by Julie Andrews on Broadway, but given to Audrey on film because Jack Warner of Warner Brothers needed a bigger, more bankable star). Next up was the heist comedy How To Steal A Million (1966), the marriage drama Two For The Road (1967) and the thriller Wait Until Dark (1967) (her fifth and final Oscar nomination).
Audrey’s marriage to Mel Ferrer had been in trouble for a number of years (even after the birth of their son in 1960), and Wait Until Dark, which Mel produced, was a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage. It didn’t work, and they divorced in 1968. In the process, she retired from show business in order to take care of her son. She soon met and married Italian psychiatrist Dr. Andrea Dotti, a marriage that would last about thirteen years (which ended because neither was fully faithful to the other), and they had a son together in 1970. In 1976, she came out of her retirement from show business to make Robin And Marian with Sean Connery, which was met with modest success. Her next film, Bloodline (1979) was reviled by critics and audiences alike. Her final starring role came in the 1981 comedy They All Laughed. Her next project, in 1987, was the TV movie Love Among Thieves, with one final cameo appearance on the big screen as an angel in Steven Spielberg’s Always (1989). At that point, she became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), going on missions to Ethiopia, Turkey, South America, Central America, Vietnam and several other places. On her return from one of her trips in late 1992, she developed abdominal pain, which was later discovered to be cancer. She tried undergoing chemotherapy, but it wasn’t enough. She passed away in her sleep on January 20, 1993.
My Own Feelings On Audrey Hepburn
My introduction to Audrey Hepburn essentially came through the films Funny Face and My Fair Lady. I saw one or two other films of hers early on, but apart from Funny Face, I never really took to them. That all started to change when I made the upgrade to a high-definition television and Blu-ray, and gave My Fair Lady another chance. I took to that movie very strongly (especially after seeing the then-newly restored film in theatres), and started looking around again for some of her films. I’ve revisited some that I didn’t take to at first, and discovered others that I hadn’t heard of and now enjoy (Love In The Afternoon), along with films from genres I wouldn’t have otherwise touched (Wait Until Dark). Plain and simple, I really like her as an actress now, and I have enjoyed rewatching one of her films and seeing a new one in preparation for this month!
This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from her filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of August, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of her films even beyond this month’s celebration.
Entries For This Month
Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –