She began her theatrical career as a dancer, and she performed as a chorus girl in musicals in the West End of London, before she began her film career in the 1950s. After appearing in a number of British films, Audrey Kathleen Ruston shot to stardom playing the lead role in the 1953 film ‘Roman Holiday’, for which she won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award. In her later life, Hepburn appeared in far fewer films and instead, devoted her time to charitable work on behalf of UNICEF, working on behalf of disadvantaged communities in South America, Africa and Asia. Audrey Hepburn continued her work as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF right up until her death in 1993 and here are 11 fascinating facts about the life of Audrey Hepburn:
1. She lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands
Audrey Hepburn and her family were living with her grandparents in the Netherlands, when the Nazis invaded the country. She lived through the occupation during which time she suffered from malnutrition and witnessed several members of her family being shot.
2. The writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s didn’t like Hepburn in the film
The writer of the original Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, said that Audrey Hepburn was ‘grossly miscast’ in the film version of his book. He had envisioned Marylyn Monroe playing the part of Holly Golightly. Even Audrey Hepburn later admitted: “I’m an introvert. Playing the extroverted girl was the hardest thing I ever did.”
3. She turned down the role of Anne Franks
Audrey Hepburn felt that she couldn’t take on the role of Anne Franks, because she was ‘emotionally incapable’ of playing the role. She turned down both Broadway and film versions of the story of the life of Anne Franks.
4. She was a trained ballet dancer
Hepburn was formally trained as a ballet dancer. She began her training in Amsterdam and then, continued it in London, when she moved there in 1948. Despite her training as a dancer, Audrey Hepburn only ever appeared in two musicals: ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Funny Face’.
5. She took her stage name from her father
Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston, the actress took her stage name from her father’s name. Her father was born Ruston, but he changed his name to Hepburn-Ruston in the mistaken belief that he was related to the third husband of Mary Queen of Scots, James Hepburn.
6. Aristocratic background
Audrey Hepburn’s mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch aristocrat, she was the daughter of Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra.
7. She made her last film appearance in 1989
Audrey Hepburn’s last ever appearance on screen was in the 1989 in Steven Spielberg movie, ‘Always’, in which she made a cameo appearance as an angel.
8. She was multilingual
Audrey Hepburn could speak in five different languages. She was fluent in Dutch, Spanish, English, Italian and French.
9. She didn’t sing in My Fair Lady
It’s not Audrey Hepburn’s own voice that you hear singing in the movie My Fair Lady. Hepburn was said to have been dismayed, when she learned that all the songs in the 1964 musical were to be sung by the singer, Marni Nixon, and dubbed later onto the film.
10. She suffered two miscarriages
Sadly, Audrey Hepburn had four miscarriages; but she also had two sons, Sean and Luca.
11. She only received one Academy Award
In the course of her career, Audrey Hepburn was nominated for five Academy Awards, but only won the one award for her performance in Roman Holiday. Ironically, she made this film with very little acting experience and Hepburn later said that she learned everything she knew about acting from the film’s director, William Wyler