Audrey Hepburn from Roman Holiday.

The first time I saw Audrey Hepburn on screen I was sitting on the living room floor of my childhood home watching TV. Flipping through the channels in boredom, I paused on the opening of the movie Charade. Watching the film, I fell in love with Audrey’s elegant style, and playful nature. From that time, I watched every one of her movies I could find, including hits like Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Audrey’s son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, said “she lived her life believing in simplicity.” Her love of simplicity showed in her iconic screen style‚Äìthick brows, monochromatic colors, and ballet flats. It also made her elegance seem more attainable to me as a young girl. As I grew older and learned of her life outside of her acting career, my respect for Audrey only increased.

Born in Brussels, Audrey spent time in England, Belgium and the Netherlands as a child. At six-months old, she contracted whooping cough, which almost led to her death. While she survived, the damage to her lungs caused her to suffer from severe asthma later in life. During the Nazi occupation in World War II, Audrey lived with her mother in the Netherlands, and experienced extreme malnutrition. She would often recount how she and others had to eat tulip bulbs or dog biscuits to survive. After the war, Audrey and her family received aid from a Red Cross unit that would later become known as UNICEF.

Post-war, Audrey studied ballet in London under Marie Rambert. Her dream was to become a prima ballerina, but damage to her body from malnutrition during the war ended it. Shifting gears, Audrey decided to try modeling and acting. Her career soon took off after being cast as the lead in Gigi by the French writer Colette. As a talented dancer and actress with the ability to speak five languages, Audrey’s career continued to grow by leaps and bounds.

Throughout her career, Audrey made donations to UNICEF, later becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, advocating for the good of children in countries like Vietnam and Somalia.

-Victoria Patterson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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