Saturday, July 9, 2011

0009: Audrey Hepburn

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
I first saw Audrey in the film Roman Holiday and just loved her. Then I saw her in Breakfast at Tiffany's, which to this day is my favorite movie. She was so different, so pretty and endearing and even decades later, the clothes in that movie were amazing, even her bathrobe seemed couture on her! 

Only years later did I realize what a beautiful person she was from the inside too. All I knew was the actress and a fashion icon then I was given a book, "How to be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life" by Melissa Hellstern and realized I'd missed most of who she was. 

Although I find everything about her interesting, here are a few highlights:

1. She studied ballet - which in hindsight seems so obvious in the graceful way she carried herself. But she was considered too tall (5 ft 7) to be a prima ballerina so she switched to acting. 

2. Her first big role was in Roman Holiday (1953). This role was originally slated for Elizabeth Taylor but the director William Wyler was so impressed by her screen test that he cast Audrey. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in this film - ah, destiny... Here is a link to the candid part of her screen test - the cameras kept rolling after her audition...

2. She had several pets, including the infamous "Famous"

3. Hepburn remains one of the few entertainers who have won Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.

4. She was a great humanitarian, devoting a lot of her later life to UNICEF

September 1992 - Audrey in Somalia

So the shocker to me was that upon her return from Somalia to Switzerland (where she lived) in the autumn of 1992, Hepburn began suffering from abdominal pains. She went to specialists and received inconclusive results, so decided to have herself examined while on a trip to Los Angeles in October. On November 1, Hepburn checked in at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with her family. Doctors discovered abdominal cancer, a very rare form. Having grown slowly over several years, the cancer had spread, not as a tumor, but as a thin coating over her small intestine. After performing surgery, the doctors put Hepburn through chemotherapy. A few days later, she had an obstruction and medication was not enough to dull the pain. She underwent further surgery on December 1. After one hour, the surgeon decided that the cancer had spread too far to be removed fully.
After coming to terms with the gravity of Hepburn's illness, her family decided to return home to Switzerland in order to celebrate her last Christmas. Because Hepburn was unable to fly on a commercial aircraft, Hubert de Givenchy arranged to send her a private jet, filled with flowers, to take Hepburn from Los Angeles to Geneva. Hepburn died in her sleep of appendicular cancer, on the evening of January 20, 1993, at her home in Switzerland. 

5. She died at 63

She and her family had less than 3 months from the time she was diagnosed to the time she died. This serves as yet another reminder to me to appreciate the time we have together because life can, and will, change in a minute. 

1 comment:

  1. wow, incredible. I had no idea she won all those awards. I love "Breakfast At Tiffany's" as well. There was a song remade in the early '90's I think by an alternative band under Warner Brother Records that did a great job producing the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" song:)