Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; May 4, 1929 – January 20, 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. Recognised as a film and fashion icon, she was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood, and was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. She received numerous accolades in her career including an Academy Award for Best Actress. In recognition of her film career, she received BAFTA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and the Special Tony Award. She remains one of handful of people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards (also known as an EGOT).
Born in Ixelles, Brussels, Hepburn spent parts of her childhood in Belgium, England, and the Netherlands. She studied ballet with Sonia Gaskell in Amsterdam beginning in 1945 and with Marie Rambert in London starting in 1948. She began performing as a chorus girl in West End musical theatre productions and then had minor appearances in several films including Mario Zampi’s One Wild Oat (1951), with Alastair Sim, Fay Compton, George Cole, and Guy Middleton; Charles Chricton’s The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), with Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James and Alfie Bass. Thorold Dickinson’s Secret People (1952), with Valentina Cortese, Serge Reggiani, and Charles Goldner, and Jean Boyer & Lester Fuller’s Monte Carlo Baby (1951), with Jules Munshin and Cara Williams. She also starred in the 1951 Broadway play Gigi after being spotted by French novelist Colette, on whose work the play was based.
Hepburn rose to stardom in William Wyler‘s romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953), with Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert; becoming the first actress to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award for a single performance. She would receive 4 more Academy Award Nominations for for performances in Billy Wilder‘s Sabrina (1954), in which Humphrey Bogart and William Holden; Fred Zinnermann‘s The Nun’s Story (1959), with Peter Finch, Edith Evans, and Peggy Ashcroft; Blake Edwards’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), with George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney; and Terence Young’s Wait Until Dark (1967), with Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Efram Zimbalist Jr., and Jack Weston.
Other films in the 1950s include King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), with Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer (her first husband), Oskar Homolka, Vittorio Gassman, Herbert Lom, Jeremy Brett, John Mills, and Anita Ekberg; Stanley Donen‘s Funny Face (1957), with Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson, Michel Auclair, and Robert Flemyng; Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon (1957), with Gary Cooper and Maurice Chevalier; Green Mansions (1959), with Anthony Perkins, Lee J. Cobb, Sessue Hayakawa and Henry Silva.
Other films in the 1960s include John Huston’s The Unforgiven (1960), with Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, Charles Bickford, Lillian Gish, John Saxon, Joseph Wiseman, Doug McClure and Albert Salmi; Wyler’s The Children’s Hour (1961), with Shirley MacLaine, James Garner, Miriam Hopkins, Fay Bainter, and Veronica Cartwright; Donen’s Charade (1963), with Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, Dominique Minot, Ned Glass, and Jacques Marin; Richard Quine’s Paris When It Sizzles (1964), with Holden, Grégoire Aslan, Raymond Bussières, Noël Coward, and Tony Curtis; George Cukor‘s My Fair Lady (1964), with Rex Harrison, Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, and Theodore Bikel; Wyler’s How To Steal a Million (1966), with Peter O’Toole, Eli Wallach, Hugh Griffith, and Charles Boyer; and Donen’s Two for the Road (1967), with Albert Finney, Eleanor Bron, William Daniels, Claude Dauphin, and Nadia Gray.
After the 1960s, Hepburn only appeared in a few projects, among them Richard Lester‘s Robin and Marian (1976) with Sean Connery, Robert Shaw,
Nicol Williamson, Denholm Elliott, Ronnie Barker, Kenneth Haigh, Ian Holm, and Richard Harris; Young’s Bloodline (1979), with Ben Gazzara, James Mason, Claudia Mori, Irene Papas, Michelle Phillips, Maurice Ronet, Romy Schneider, Omar Sharif, Beatrice Straight, and Gert Fröbe; Peter Bogdanovich’s They All Laughed (1981), with Gazzara, John Ritter, Colleen Camp, Patti Hansen, and Dorothy Stratten; Roger Young’s TV movie Love Among Thieves (1987), with Robert Wagner, Patrick Bauchau, Jerry Orbach, Brion James, and Samantha Eggar; and her final film appearance was in Steven Spielberg Always (1989), with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, and Brad Johnson. Her last recorded performances were the 1990 documentary television series Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn.
Later in life she devoted much of her time to UNICEF, to which she had contributed since 1954. Then she worked in some of the poorest communities of Africa, South America, and Asia between 1988 and 1992. In December 1992, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. A month later, she died of appendiceal cancer at her home in Switzerland at the age of 63.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Dutch in Seven Lessons (1948) – directed by Charles Huguenot van der Linden & Heinz Josephson
- One Wild Oat (1951) – directed by Charles Saunders – uncredited
- Young Wives’ Tale (1951) – directed by Henry Cass
- Monte Carlo Baby (1951) – directed by Jean Boyer & Lester Fuller
- Laughter in Paradise (1951) – Mario Zampi
- The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) – directed by Charles Crichton
- Secret People (1952) – directed by Thorold Dickinson
- Roman Holiday (1953) – directed by William Wyler
- Sabrina (1954)** – directed by Billy Wilder
- War and Peace (1956) – directed by King Vidor
- Love in the Afternoon (1957) – directed by Billy Wilder
- Funny Face (1957) – directed by Stanley Donen
- Green Mansions (1959) – directed by Mel Ferrer
- The Nun’s Story (1959) – directed by Fred Zinnermann
- The Unforgiven (1960) – directed by John Huston
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – directed by Blake Edwards
- The Children’s Hour (1961) – directed by William Wyler
- Charade (1963) – directed by Stanley Donen
- Paris When It Sizzles (1964) – directed by Richard Quine
- My Fair Lady (1964)** – directed by George Cukor
- How to Steal a Million (1966) – directed by William Wyler
- Two for the Road (1967) – directed by Stanley Donen
- Wait Until Dark (1967) – directed by Terence Young
- Robin and Marion (1976) – directed by Richard Lester
- Bloodline (1979) – directed by Terence Young
- They All Laughed (1981) – directed by Peter Bogdanovich
- Love Among Thieves (1987) – directed by Roger Young – TV movie
- Always (1989) – directed by Steven Spielberg
- Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn (1991-1993) – documentary series