Monday, January 2, 2012

Inspirational Icon Monday: Audrey Hepburn

There’s a reason Audrey Hepburn was and continues to be so beloved. So talked about amongst fashion gurus. Her style still constantly emulated. The girl crush of the female population. Very little of this undying praise for Miss Hepburn has to do with her profession as an actress, however. Yes, who doesn’t love the Cinderella type fantasy Sabrina offers with two handsome men vying for her love or as the adventurous princess in Roman Holiday? Then there’s her turn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s where she is the loveable commitment phobe country girl turned posh city escort. No matter what character Hepburn took on, her graceful elegance, genuine loveliness and kind spirit sparkled through. She was the unconventional beauty that men could safely bring home to mothers and women wanted to be friends with.

Born in Begium and mostly raised in London, Hepburn dreamt of becoming a ballerina. The combination of fleeing her British home for the Netherlands during World War II, and then the trauma of having the Germans occupy her town and cut off food supply caused dance to take a back seat. When she did return to her ballet studies, her trusted teacher assessed that due to her taller frame and malnutrition during the war, Hepburn would be an excellent ballerina but never a prima ballerina. Needing more money to help support her and her mother, she decided to pursue gigs as a chorus girl in the London theatre and extra parts in the movies which eventually escalated into minor film roles. When she landed the title role in the broadway production of Gigi (despite her telling producers she wasn't qualified), her lively performance was seen by the right eyes and received the chance to screen test for Roman Holiday which she was cast in once Elizabeth Taylor had to decline. This part won Hepburn the 1954 Golden Globe, Academy Award, BAFTA and a world-wide fan base.

Although she was signed for a seven picture contract, Hepburn required she have a year between each film so that she could continue performing in theatrical productions since her true passion was dance. Along with her slew of other awards in 1954, she also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in the play Ondine. Her leading man, Mel Ferrer became her husband in 1955 for the next 14 years. They had a son in 1960, and by 1967 she made the decision to walk away from her acting career and focus on motherhood.

This dream of being a mother had been so strong that she had walked away in 1954 from her affair with William Holden once he revealed he had had a vasectomy. She wasn’t willing to have her son be on the sidelines of her life--he was going to be her focus. She said, "One thing I would have dreaded would be to look back on my life and only have movies. It would be terribly sad, wouldn't it, to look back on your life in films and not know your children? For me there's nothing more pleasant or exciting or lovely or rewarding than seeing my children grow up...and they only grow up once, remember." After being divorced for less than a year, Hepburn married psychiatrist Andrea Dotti who fathered her second son. The marriage lasted 13 years but ended after Hepburn had had enough of Dotti’s infidelity.

The remainder of her life was devoted to her most treasured role as a Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Her own experiences during the war caused her to spend much of her time in third world countries showing compassion toward starving children and doing all she could to bring them assistance. This heart for others, her humble evaluation of her acting talent, her non-judgmental attitude, elfin beauty, smart humor, and the wisdom she gained from her self-admitted mistakes and trials in love, and her overall joyful outlook are just some of the reasons she is still considered a role model for the female gender. When a journalist asked how she has kept such a positive attitude, Hepburn replied, "I've accomplished far more than I ever hoped to, and most of the time it happened without my seeking it. I didn't expect anything much and because of that I'm the least bitter woman I know."

Audrey and I spying in our vintage scarfs and trench coats.

1 comment:

  1. I am a huge Audrey fan. She is such an inspiration - beautiful in and out. Hollywood has yet to encounter someone like her.