Audrey Hepburn: a snapshot biography

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was a star amongst the stars. An icon of film and fashion and a humanitarian who dedicated herself to helping those in need.

Born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1929, Audrey lived in the Netherlands during World War II, surrounded by the Holocaust. “More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child,” she said.

While just entering her teenage years, Audrey helped support the resistance movements. She carried coded messages tucked away in her shoes and used her ballet performing talent to raise money by giving dance recitals. But the war experiences left an indelible mark on Audrey.

After the war, Audrey continued studying ballet. But she soon shifted focus to acting after being told that while talented, becoming a prima ballerina would not be possible because of her height, along with some impacts from malnutrition during the war.

She made her acting debut in 1948, but stardom came with her starring role in Roman Holiday in 1953. The director said about selecting Audrey for the part, “She had everything I was looking for: charm, innocence, and talent. She also was very funny. She was absolutely enchanting.”

Audrey would star in many films throughout a career that lasted decades, receiving many accolades along the way. After receiving the Screen Actors Guild Achievement Award in 1993, Audrey said in a statement read by Julia Roberts: “I am more than ever awed and overwhelmed by the monumental talents it was my great, great privilege to work for and with. There is therefore no way I can thank you for this beautiful award without thanking all of them, because it is they who helped and honed, triggered and taught, pushed and pulled, dressed and photographed — and with endless patience and kindness and gentleness, guided and nurtured a totally unknown, insecure, inexperienced, skinny broad into a marketable commodity. I am proud to have been in a business that gives pleasure, creates beauty, and awakens our conscience, arouses compassion, and perhaps most importantly, gives millions a respite from our so violent world. Thank you, Screen Actors Guild and friends, for this huge honor — and for giving me this unique opportunity to express my deepest gratitude and love to all of those who have given me a career that has brought me nothing but happiness.”

Shortly after, Audrey passed away at home in Switzerland at sixty-three.

“Audrey Hepburn: a snapshot biography” sources: Audrey Hepburn Wikiquote / Audrey Hepburn Wikipedia / Portrait of Audrey Hepburn is a Paramount-photo by Bud Fraker, taken in 1956 / Statement accepting the Screen Actors Guild Achievement Award, read by Julia Roberts, because of Audrey’s failing health. (January 1993) / Wikimedia Commons / Woodward, Ian. Audrey Hepburn: Fair Lady of the Screen. United Kingdom, Ebury Publishing, 2012.