Audrey Herburn: Our Fair Lady She was a ballet dancer, but she never danced in a ballets She never studied acting, yet she became one of the most famous actresses m the world. The public loved her. People love her now, years after she died. They remember her not only for her films, but for her elegance, grace and charm. Audrey Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston was bom in Bmssels on May 4, 1929 in the family of a wealthy English banker and a Dutch baroness. She spent her early childhood travelling between England, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Her parents divorced when she was six. Then came the war. Her mother moved with Audrey to her parents' home in the neutral Netherlands. The following year the country was invaded by the Nazis. It was a difficult time for the whole family. There was very little food. Audrey and her family had to dig vegetables from the hard frozen ground, for some time they survived on flour made from tulip bulbs. When the war finished, Audrey was very thin and weak and for the rest of her life she remained pencil-thin and frail. Certainly, the memory of those years never left her. When more than ten years later she was offered a part in The Diary of Anne Frank, she turned it down because, as she explained, 'I couldn't deal with it.'
Audrey's greatest love was music. She wanted to be a dancer, and she studied dancing since she was five. In 1948 Audrey and her mother moved to London. Audrey went to a ballet school. She worked hard at her dancing. She had no time for boyfriends. But one day the ballet school teacher told her, 'I'm sorry, but you'll never be a famous dancer. You're too tall.'
Audrey was sad, but then something happened. It changed her life for ever. She was given a small part in a big London musical. Three thousand girls tried to get the part, but the producers wanted Audrey. She quickly found jobs in other musicals. Everybody liked this thin girl with a pretty face and wide smile. 'I was not a great dancer,' Audrey remembered later. 'I threw up my arms and smiled. That's all.'
When Audrey was twenty, she had small parts in several movies and during the filming of a movie she met a famous novelist and screenwriter Colette. Colette wanted to find a girl for the Broadway musical of her book, Gigi. When she saw Audrey, she said. 'She is Gigi! Half-woman, half-boy.' This role won Hepburn a Theatre World Award in 1952.
The same year a Hollywood movie producer offered her the part of a princess in a big new movie, Roman Holiday. The film was a great success and Audrey won an Oscar for Best Actress.
Now she wanted to be in movies all the time. She went on to star in a series of successful films and won several Best Actress Oscar nominations for her performance. Not everybody considered her pretty, but most people agreed that she had charm and class. The director of Roman Holiday said: 'She is not beautiful, but she gets to you.' Since her first major role she created what became known as 'the Audrey Hepburn look.' Her clothes in several films were made by Hubert de Givenchy of Paris. He became her friend for life. 'A woman does not wear a dress,' he told her. 'She lives in it.'
Audrey starred in about 30 films, but she always made it clear that family was more important for her than work. She was married twice and had two sons. After her second son was born in 1970, she said: 'I don't want to make any more movies. I'm happy as a good wife and mother.' However, her second marriage ended in divorce — Just like
Since 1970 Audrey lived a quiet life in her house in Switzerland raising her two sons. She only made two or three more movies, and they were not very good. She made them because she needed money.
When she became older, she wanted to do something more important with her life. She remembered her early years, at the end of the war, when she was poor and hungry. Now she wanted to help poor and hungry children too.
She started to work for the United Nations. She was officially appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She visited the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world. The world-famous actress in Givenchy clothes now worked with hungry children in Africa. She stayed in small towns with no water, and visited sick children in dirty old hospitals. When she was at home, she talked on television about her work. 'I do my best,' she said simply. 'I wish I could do more.'
She had a small part in one more movie: she was an angel in Steven Spielberg's Always. Audrey's last words in the movie are, 'Do things for others.'
In 1992 she travelled to Africa for the last time. When she came back, she was seriously ill. The doctors thought it was some infection, but it was cancer. On January 20, 1993 Audrey Hepburn died. She was sixty-four.
Her face is still looking at us from posters and pages of fashion magazines. Audrey was one of the few actresses who became the symbol of their time, whose look was imitated by thousands of girls. She became and stayed the symbol of elegance, glamour, charm, and grace. As one of film critics said 'In this cruel and imperfect world Audrey was living proof that God could still create perfection.'
Her best films are:
Roman Holiday (1954)