Audrey Hepburn

by Olivia from San Diego

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” -Audrey Hepburn.
Associated Press
Associated Press

"An icon of Hollywood elegance and style — and an avid philanthropist — Audrey Hepburn remains one of the most beloved movie stars of the 20th century.”(Gutierrez-Folch) Audrey Hepburn was not born a movie star. She used strength, determination and a quirky sense of humor to become “one of the most beloved movie stars of the 20th century.”

Hepburn’s humble beginnings started on May 4, 1929 when she was born to Joseph Hepburn-Rushton and Ella Van Heemstra. Hepburn’s father left the family when she was six years old. She and her two half -brothers were raised solely by their mother Ella and later Hepburn’s family was split apart at the start of WWII. Hepburn and her mother moved to Holland and waited out the war while they waited to hear any news about her family’s whereabouts. When the war ended Hepburn went to live in England and study ballet on a scholarship. Hepburn had a very slim body and started her modeling career while in England. She quickly gained popularity and soon found herself landing movie roles. Hepburn’s first big break came in 1951 when she landed the lead for the Broadway play “Gigi”. Soon after she won an academy award for her lead performance in “Roman Holiday”, her first big screen hit. She landed many more academy award nominations as she was cast in a myriad of movies. Audrey Hepburn had become a household name in Hollywood as she hit the height of her fame during the 60s. Hepburn became known for her effortless glamour and style after playing Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 1961. Audrey Hepburn became an iconic actress, model and humanitarian using determination and strength she developed by surviving WWII as a child.

Hepburn survived starvation, loss and displacement. "By the fall of 1944, the import of all food into Holland was halted and the notorious “Hunger Winter” set in. Audrey too weak to dance, waited out the endless days doing puzzles and drawing pictures of happier times.”(Lad) Hepburn and her family persevered through the horrible "Hunger Winter" in 1944. Hepburn never gave up hope and made the best of her situation. Audrey Hepburn lost most of her family in WWII. "At the time of Germany's invasion of Holland, Audrey's older brother, Alexander, went underground and Ian, age 19, was picked up by the Germans and taken away.”(Lad) Audrey Hepburn and her mother, Ella, tried to hold on to what little bit of family they had left together. Both of these women showed great bravery as they endured the endless void of information on their family's whereabouts. Audrey Hepburn not only used her courageous heart to survive WWII, but developed a great strength and determination traits that would later serve her well in show business.

As Audrey Hepburn grew up she became more and more popular on the Hollywood scene. She was an icon of beauty and poise and possessed a beautiful soul. In becoming a fashion icon she was also a humanitarian, which added to her legend as a kind and responsible heroine. "Peerless in her screen presence, actress Audrey Hepburn had huge brown eyes, a husky voice and a dancer's gracefulness, qualities that seduced the entire movie-going world." (Lad) Hepburn’s extensive ballet training helped her gracefully tackle any part that was thrown at her. Hepburn had little acting training but "she was never boring" said actor Humphrey Bogart. “In the 1960s, Hepburn evolved from sweet and naïve roles into more mature and controversial parts, such as her famous portrayal of escort Holly Golightly in Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961). This role was crucial for her Hollywood career, earning her a fourth Academy Award nomination and helping to establish her as an icon of elegance and style.”(Gutierrez-Folch) Audrey Hepburn established herself as a high status actress but still remained humble and down-to-earth. She redefined class becoming the 20th century definition of classic beauty. Hepburn ended her acting career with a whooping five Oscar nominations and one win for her lead performance in “Roman Holiday” her first big screen hit. Audrey Hepburn inspired me with her determination to overcome any obstacles that came her way.

Hepburn became a lovely mother to two boys within her amazing career and extended her maternal love to children around the world. "An articulate and impassioned spokeswoman, Hepburn was named the Goodwill Ambassador for--UNICEF in 1988.”(Lad) Hepburn did not use her exemplary title to travel and hold lavish charity events. Rather, she used her title to work in the field and directly care for the impoverished children. “After retiring from film, Hepburn devoted her time and effort to children in need. Becoming a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the late 1980s, Hepburn traveled through Africa, Asia and Latin America trying to raise awareness about children in need.”(Gutierrez-Folch) Hepburn helped the oppressed by giving them a voice and gave the warm comfort of a mother's heart to anyone who needed it. Audrey Hepburn was always humble about her unique style and notoriety and she took the responsibility of caring for her children and the disadvantaged children of the world.

Hepburn used the strength and perseverance she developed as a child to become a famous fashion and movie icon and an accomplished humanitarian. Surviving starvation and disappointments, Hepburn became a gleaming star in Hollywood and a beacon of hope in many impoverished children's hearts. Audrey Hepburn inspires me to conquer the ordinary and become extraordinary. Hepburn is a role model to women around the world. She represents class, style and the ability to stand up for individuality. Audrey Hepburn shows you can be both powerful and kind; Overcoming adversity can be a powerful motivating force when you use your talents from the honesty of your heart as Audrey Hepburn did.

Page created on 5/22/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/22/2011 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Extra Info

Works Consulted

"Audrey Hepburn." New Netherland Institute - Home Page. Web. 19 May 2011.

"Audrey Hepburn Quotes, Sayings, Remarks, Thoughts and Speeches." Famous Quotes, Quotations and Sayings at Nut Quote. Web. 19 May 2011.

Gutierrez-Folch, Anita. "Audrey Hepburn, Hollywood's Fairest Lady." FindingDulcinea | Online Guides | Internet Library | Web Resources. Web. 19 May 2011.

"Hepburn, Audrey (1929-1993)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 13 May 2011.

"Hollywood Influences Fashion." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: Modern World Part I: 1900-1945. Detroit: UXL, 2004. 784-785. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 May 2011.

Lad, Monica Costa. "Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund - The Real Audrey." Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund - Audrey Hepburn Remembered dvd - Audrey Hepburn filmography - Donations. 12 May 2011

Zeff, Dan. "Hepburn, Audrey." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2011. Web. 13 May 2011