Audrey Hepburn, born Audrey Kathleen Ruston (May 4, 1929 — January 20, 1993), was one of the most beautiful and elegant actresses in cinema history. She never seemed to try to be iconic; it just came naturally. From wearing scarves, to nun's habits, to The Little Black Dress, hers was an unforgettable image. Look up the word "classy" in the dictionary, and a picture of her will be staring back at you.
A British citizen, she was born in Brussels, Belgium to a Dutch Baroness and an Anglo-Irish ne'er-do-well. Her father walking out on the family when she was young and her subsequent adolescence in German-occupied Netherlands made her something of a woobie in her childhood.
She is not related to Katharine Hepburn, who was American.
Her films include:
- The Lavender Hill Mob (1951): Crime caper comedy in which she has a bit part.
- Laughter in Paradise (1951): Has a small role as cigarette girl.
- Roman Holiday (1953) - A Rebellious Princess meets an Intrepid Reporter in the middle of the Eternal City. This role is her Academy Award winning Star-Making Role, and her personal favourite. Gregory Peck insisted she be given equal billing with him, and correctly predicted she would win the Oscar.
- Sabrina (1954) (1954) - Nominated for an Oscar.
- War and Peace (1956)
- Funny Face (1957) - Her first musical, co-starring Fred Astaire. The definitive "Audrey Hepburn looking awesome in all sorts of costumes" film.
- Love in the Afternoon (1957)
- Mayerling (1957) - A Made-for-TV Movie about the real-life murder-suicide of an Austrian prince and his mistress, co-starring her husband Mel Ferrer.
- Green Mansions (1959)
- The Nun's Story (1959) - Some of Hepburn's best acting work. Nominated for an Oscar.
- The Unforgiven (1960) - Western in which she co-stars with Burt Lancaster.
- Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) - Possibly her most iconic role. Nominated for an Oscar.
- The Children's Hour (1961)
- Charade (1963)
- My Fair Lady (1964) - Starts out Playing Against Type, being an uncultured street woman who gradually is groomed to become the classy lady we all know and love. Infamously, her singing scenes were dubbed by Marni Nixon. Two songs with her original vocals are available on the DVD.
- Paris When It Sizzles (1964)
- How to Steal a Million (1966)
- Two for the Road (1967) - Playing Against Type as a bitchy housewife.
- Wait Until Dark (1967) - One of the first modern thrillers, with Hepburn as a blind woman threatened by heroin smugglers. The studio had a lot of trouble casting the main villain, as few actors wanted to be seen tormenting a blind Audrey. Nominated for an Oscar.
- Robin and Marian (1976) - Playing an aging Maid Marian opposite Sean Connery.
- Always (1989) - Her last role. note
This actress/model provides examples of:
- Cool Pet: While filming Green Mansions, since her character Rima was written as having a deer companion that followed her everywhere, in order to create a realistic bond she adopted a fawn named Pippin, who lived with her family and even slept in her room.
- Cunning Linguist: She was bilingual since childhood because of her Dutch and British heritage, but was also fluent in French, Spanish and Italian.
- '50s Hair: She wore a ponytail at the start of her career, then cropped it into a pixie cut, then grew it again into a Beehive Hairdo in The '60s.
- Friend to All Children: In the later years of her life, her great passion was her work for UNICEF, on whose behalf she travelled to some of the most dangerous, desperately poor corners of the world—including, just a few months before her death when she was already critically ill, to famine- and civil war-torn Somalia.
- Game-Breaking Injury: She was a ballerina prior to the war and wanted to go professional but the long periods of starvation she went through as a teen did a number on her bones and she had to give it up.
- Heroes Love Dogs: She had a particular soft spot for tiny, spunky terriers, the most well-known being her beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Mr. Famous, who traveled everywhere with her. Later in life she had a pack of Jack Russell Terriers.
- Hollywood Thin: Along with the Little Black Dress example below, Hepburn's physique has long been considered an ideal standard of beauty and grace. She was 5'7" and 110-115 lbs, giving her a BMI of 17-18, which is considered underweight. She suffered from long periods of starvation during the Nazis' occupation of the Netherlands, and this damaged her metabolism, causing life-long health problems and contributing to her relatively early death, at age 63.
- I Am Not Pretty: Hard to believe about a woman commonly thought of one of the most beautiful to ever grace the planet with her presence, but she felt this way. To be fair, her boyish, gamine figure and reserved persona were something of a rarity in her day when big hair, big chests, and overly-glamorous sex symbols represented the ideal woman at the time."You can even say that I hated myself at certain periods. I was too fat, or maybe too tall, or maybe just plain too ugly ... you can say my definiteness stems from underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority. I couldn't conquer these feelings by acting indecisive. I found the only way to get the better of them was by adopting a forceful, concentrated drive."
- Impoverished Patrician: Audrey's titled Dutch-Belgian family lost most of their worldly goods to Nazi confiscation during World War II, so that she and her mother lived in very straitened circumstances during the immediate postwar years (a major impetus behind her first training as a professional ballerina, then becoming an actress). Moreover, she experienced severe malnutrition during the horrific Dutch famine of 1944-45, whose consequences affected her health for the rest of her life.
- La Résistance: During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Audrey's mother worked extensively with the Dutch Resistance. Several of her relatives were in fact executed by the Nazis for Resistance activities. It was long thought that Audrey herself also took part, but there is no evidence for this.
- Little Black Dress: She didn't invent it, but let's face it: her face is the one that immediately comes to mind whenever one hears the phrase. She's not the page image for nothing, after all.
- Sliding Scale of Beauty: Probably II (world class beauty) as she is often considered the most beautiful woman who ever lived.
Homages to Audrey Hepburn
- In the Gundam metaseries, both Relena Peacecraft/Darlian and her Expy, Lacus Clyne, were modeled after Hepburn. And now Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn has Audrey Burne. Gundam really loves her.
- Both Wing and Unicorn made homages to Roman Holiday: in Wing, one of Relena's dresses was designed after Princess Ann's dress, and in Unicorn, the "Runaway Princess" movie poster is a copy of the movie poster for "Roman Holiday".
- In the manga and anime series, Rec, Aka Onda, the lead female character, idolizes Hepburn, and would quote Hepburn's lines from the movies she appeared in. In the opening, Aka is wearing some of Hepburn's famous clothing.
- Episode 146 of Sailor Moon is a homage to Roman Holiday, with one-shot character Princess Rubina as a stand-in for Princess Ann.
- Lina's character design in Slayers is supposedly based on Hepburn.
- In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Aurora's design is partially based on Hepburn.
- More specifically Hepburn's willowy ballerina body. Originally Aurora/Briar Rose's face was also based on Hepburn's but redesigned later on.
- In Anastasia, the title character's design is based on both Meg Ryan and Hepburn.
- Jenna from Balto was based on Hepburn.
- You, Me and Dupree. Audrey is Dupree's ideal woman, much to Molly's surprise.
- Audrey is one of the actresses on whom S1m0ne is based.
- Adam Hughes' Catwoman cover work.
- From Clamp School Detectives, kindergartner Utako Okawa dons an outfit identical◊ to the Royal Ascot dress worn by Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
- Azalyn in Irresponsible Captain Tylor talks about being a fan of Roman Holiday
- In Gossip Girl, Blair Waldorf is a huge Audrey fan and would like her life to be like in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
- According to the DVD commentary of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (specifically "Suited For Success"), Rarity's voice is at least partially inspired by Audrey's.
- Diantha from Pokémon X and Y greatly resembles her, down to the hair, eyebrows and being an actress.
- In The Legend of Korra, Asami Sato's overall appearance and role as a smart innovator with incredible beauty brings Audrey Hepburn and other Hollywood Golden Age actresses to mind.
- In World of Warcraft, there is a female pet trainer named Audrey Burnhep in Stormwind City. It has been speculated that the reason why Blizzard Entertainment chose this method to honour Hepburn was her being well-known for keeping a pet fawn (small deer, which is also an in-game pet).
- Italian detective/thriller comic Julia, published by Bonelli, has its eponymous character clearly modeled after Hepburn.