Audrey Hepburn Overview (02:07)
The actress survived war and famine in Holland; the experience inspired a need to give back to humanity. After her film career, Hepburn dedicated her life to helping children in developing countries.
Troubled Childhood (02:29)
Hepburn was born in Belgium in 1929. Her parents fought and her mother sent her to boarding school in England at age 5; she gradually settled in.
European Fascism (01:48)
In the 1930s, right wing movements developed in Italy, Germany, and Britain. Hepburn's parents helped fundraise for Oswald Mosley. In 1935, her father left the family—an event that instilled in her a fear of male abandonment.
Dancing Dream (02:23)
Hepburn enrolled in ballet lessons in Kent and showed talent, but World War II broke out. Her mother sent for her, assuming Holland would remain neutral; they moved to Arnhem.
Life under Nazi Occupation (03:02)
The German Army invaded Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg in 1940. By 1941, Hepburn's family suffered from food rationing and Jewish citizens were relegated to ghettos. She witnessed deportations to concentration camps.
Dutch Resistance Movement (01:32)
Resistors conducted strikes on Nazi targets, collected intelligence, and sheltered Jewish families. The occupiers executed innocent civilians in revenge, including Hepburn's uncle. Hepburn became a courier.
Civilian Suffering (02:32)
In 1944, the Allies attempted to capture bridges in the Netherlands. The plan failed and Arnhem was destroyed. Residents were forced to evacuate; Hepburn's family took in 40 refugees. The Germans blockaded food supplies; 16,000 starved during the “Hunger Winter.”
Holland Food Drop (02:43)
The Allies parachuted supplies into the Netherlands in April 1945. In May, the country was liberated; Hepburn suffered malnutrition. UNICEF brought additional relief, making a positive impression on her.
Dance Education (02:07)
After World War II, Hepburn studied ballet with Sonia Gaskell and was accepted to the Rambert Ballet School in 1948. Hepburn's body and technique was inferior to British dancers who hadn't suffered malnutrition; she realized she couldn’t be a professional.
Acting Breakthrough (03:46)
Hepburn used dancing skills to audition for London chorus lines. In 1951, while filming "Monte Carlo Baby" in Monaco, Collette cast her as the lead in "Gigi." After a successful screen test, Paramount director William Wyler cast her in “Roman Holiday.”
Rise to Stardom (02:05)
After "Gigi," Hepburn began filming "Roman Holiday," a Hollywood hit. She won the Oscar for Best Actress and was sought after by film studios.
Fashion and Femininity (02:27)
Hepburn pioneered a new Hollywood look and fell in love with Mel Ferrer in 1953. Her film career caused stress and doctors ordered her to rest in 1954.
Marriage and Family (03:04)
Hepburn found peace in Switzerland and married Ferrer in 1954. She refocused on her acting career but suffered two miscarriages. She took a filming break during her third pregnancy and gave birth to a son in 1960.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" (02:17)
Hepburn's innocence enabled her to play the role of a call girl. The high grossing film earned her another Oscar nomination.
"My Fair Lady" (04:01)
In 1963, Hepburn played Eliza Doolittle; many thought the part should go to Julie Andrews. The producers had Hepburn lip synch songs—damaging her reputation. The film received 12 Oscar nominations, but none for best actress.
Second Chance at Motherhood (02:34)
Hepburn and Ferrer divorced in 1967. She married Dr. Andrea Dotti in 1969, gave birth to a son, and gave up filming. Dotti started having affairs and in 1980, the couple separated.
Hepburn's Soul Mate? (01:42)
Hepburn met fellow Dutch actor and Hunger Winter survivor Robert Wolders after separating from Dotti. They settled in Switzerland. Sir Roger Moore recalls Hepburn's discomfort with her celebrity status.
Humanitarian Work (02:56)
Recalling the Hunger Winter, Hepburn volunteered as a UNICEF ambassador in 1988, using her celebrity status to raise awareness and funds. She flew to Ethiopia, Sudan, Turkey, and South America to witness starvation.
UNICEF Lobbying (02:51)
In the early 1990s, Somalia suffered a war and famine. Hepburn was moved when visiting starving villages and held press conferences about their plight—convincing the U.S. to double aid and repaying the aid organization for saving her during World War II.
Hepburn's Legacy (01:53)
In November 1992 at age 63, Hepburn was diagnosed with cancer. She died a few months later in Switzerland. Moore reflects on her UNICEF work that saved thousands of lives.
Credits: Audrey Hepburn: Extraordinary Women (00:47)
Credits: Audrey Hepburn: Extraordinary Women
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