British actress and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn, was born on May 4th 1926, in Brussels Belgium.
Her mother, Baroness Ella Van Heemstra, was of part Jewish Heritage, and because of her mother’s family in the Netherlands and her father’s British background having a job with a British company the family often travelled among the three countries.
With her multinational background, Audrey went on to speak five languages; she picked up French, Spanish and Italian in addition to her native English and Dutch. Hepburn participated in ballet by the age of five.
Hepburn’s parents were members of the British Union of Fascists in the mid-1930s, with her father becoming a true Nazi sympathizer.
The marriage began to fail from 1935, and after her mother discovered him in bed with the nanny of her children, Hepburn’s father left the family abruptly.
During the 1940’s occupation one of her half-brothers was taken away to a German labor camp while an uncle and a cousin were executed as enemies of the Third Reich.
After the war ended in 1945, Audrey moved to Amsterdam, where Hepburn took ballet lessons for three years with Sonia Gaskell, a leading figure in Dutch ballet. Audrey wanted to be a ballerina but because of the war-time deprivations she lacked the stamina to become a successful ballerina.
One of her first jobs to make ends meet was working as a dental assistant.
She made her first film, “Nederland in 7 Lessen (Dutch at the Double)”, at the age of 19 while living in the Netherlands.
What movie lead Audrey Hepburn to stardom was the movie called, “Roman Holiday.”
In which she fell in love with an American newsman (Gregory Peck). While producers initially wanted Elizabeth Taylor for the starring role, director William Wyler was so impressed by Hepburn’s screen test that he cast her in the lead. Wyler later commented, “She had everything I was looking for: charm, innocence, and talent. She also was very funny. She was absolutely enchanting and we said, ‘That’s the girl!
Gregory Peck was so impressed by Hepburn’s screen test for “Roman Holiday” that he insisted her billing equal his own.
Throughout her life she had total of four miscarriages, Mother of two sons: Sean (with first husband, actor Mel Ferrer) and Luca (with second husband, psychiatrist Andrea Dotti).
In 1992 she was awarded “The Presidential Medal of Freedom,” the nation’s highest civilian honor for her ongoing work with UNICEF.
The only home she owned was “La Paisible” (The Place of Peace) in the village of Tolochenaz, near Lausanne, Switzerland. To this manor house she came back to die in January 1993.
Among her final words on her death-bed were “Remember the children when I’m gone, please make sure those poor starving babies get enough to eat.”
Everyone remembers when Marilyn Monroe serenaded President John F. Kennedy on his birthday in 1962. What is often forgotten is that Audrey Hepburn sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to JFK for his final birthday in 1963.
In lieu of Audrey Hepburn’s birthday being today, I leave you now with one my favorite quotes from her.
“Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE, the word itself says, “I’m possible.”
Written and Designed by JD Mitchell