Audrey Hepburn was an actress, style icon and humanitarian.
Hepburn was educated in England until, in September 1939 Britain declared war on Germany. Hepburn and her mother relocated to Arnheim in the Netherlands where she attended Arnhem Conservatory and studied ballet in addition to her academic studies. After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Hepburn adopted the pseudonym Edda van Heemstra because an “English sounding” name was considered dangerous during the German occupation. During the war, she suffered from malnutrition, acute anaemia, respiratory problems and edema. Her Uncle was executed and her half brother Ian was deported to work in a German labour camp, her other half brother Alex went into hiding to escape the same fate. Hepburn saw young men put against the wall and shot, later her experience would led to her turning down the part of Anne Frank as she was emotionally unable to play the role.
After the war, Hepburn attended ballet school in Amsterdam and later in London. She took modelling jobs and learnt to work in front of a camera and used her ballet training to secure a spot as a chorus girl before moving on to become a feature player. She was spotted by a producer and within three years, she found fame as Princess Anne in Roman Holiday (1953), winning an Oscar as Best Actress. She continued to act in well received films including Funny Face, Sabrina, Love in the Afternoon and The Nun’s Story.
Hepburn reached the height of her fame when she played the iconic Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she received her fourth Academy Award nomination for the film. Hepburn went on to star in My Fair Lady and later received another nomination in 1967’s Wait Until Dark. At the end of the 60’s Hepburn decided to retire while she was still on top. She married her second husband Dr. Andrea Dotti.
In 1988, Hepburn became a special ambassador to the United Nations UNICEF fund. She travelled the world raising awareness for children in need, she knew how it was to go hungry for days on end after her experience in The Netherlands during the German Occupation. Hepburn visited UNICEF projects in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America and won a special Academy Award for her humanitarian work in 1993 but died before she could receive it. Hepburn’s work to help children continues through the Audrey Hepburn Memorial Fund, set up by her sons, Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti and her companion Robert Wolders. It is now known as the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.