Happy birthday Audrey Hepburn!

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Audrey Hepburn. Can you think of a lovelier, classier and sweeter actress? I believe she was Jackie Kennedy’s favourite actress, and, this I’m sure, she is mine. Today, on May 4th 2015, Audrey would have been 86th years old. Unfortunately, this marvellous actress left us too soon at the young age of 63. Because I love this actress so much, I decided to write a tribute to her. That will be my way to honour her on the day of her birthday.

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Born in 1929 in Ixellle (Belgium), Audrey was the daughter of a Dutch Baroness and a British-Irish Nazi sympathizer (yes, that’s sad). Audrey Hepburn’s first passion was classic dance. She also had a talent to speak many languages and had a great literary culture. During the World War II, as she was living in Europe where the conflict was mainly taking place, Audrey had a very hard time. She suffered from malnutrition and almost died of a jaundice.

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Audrey Hepburn’s dancing career will stop quite soon as she was apparently too tall to become a prima ballerina. So, Audrey will try the cinema and the theater. Her first movie was Nederlands in 7 lessen, a documentary where she plays an air hostess. The French author Colette noticed her on the set of Monte Carlo Baby and chose her to play the role of Gigi on the stage adaptation of her novel Gigi. Roman Holiday was Audrey Hepburn’s first film as a leading role. She was fantastic in it. So fantastic, that she won the Best Actress Oscar in 1954. Let’s watch this:

Isn’t she a dear? Audrey received a total of five Best Actress’s Oscar nominations, but only won one. After Roman Holiday, Audrey starred in so many great films. She played iconic roles that we’ll always remember. I can think of Sabrina (that was a first collaboration with Hubert de Givenchy), Love in the Afternoon, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Nun’s Story, Charade, Two for the Road, My Fair Lady, How to Steal a Million, The Children’s Hours, Funny Face, etc. She certainly had a very interesting CV.

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We all know that Audrey Hepburn and William Holden had a love affair on the set of Sabrina. They would have made a lovely couple, I’m sure, but the two were already married. Audrey was married to actor Mel Ferrer from 1954 to 1968. They had a son, Sean. Then, after their divorce, she married the psychiatrist Andrea Dotti. They were married from 1969 to 1982 and also had a son together, Luca. Audrey Hepburn spent the last years of her lives with Robert Wolders, a Dutch television actor, but they had never been married.

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Audrey Hepburn was not only one of the best actresses of her generation, she also had a great heart. Indeed, from 1988 to 1992, Audrey worked for the UNICEF. She spent those years helping the children in Asia, South America and mostly Africa. She had to stop her humanitarian career in 1992 because she was diagnosed with a colon cancer. She died in 1993 in her Swiss villa. We lost that wonderful lady way too soon, but she has a place in our hearts forever. I will conclude this little biography by saying that, in my opinion, Audrey Hepburn was, along with Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, one of the most iconic actresses of the 20th century. Seriously, just like Grace and Marilyn, everybody knows her and she became a fashion icon. Of course, many people know who she is, but haven’t necessarily seen one of her films. Well, that’s another story.

Audrey Hepburn, UNICEF ambassador in Ethiopia

What I wrote here was mainly objective. I guess you would like to know why she is my favourite actress.  The first Audrey Hepburn’s film I saw was My Fair Lady. I remember really enjoying it the first time I saw it and thought that she was a swell actress. However, as much as she was good, we know that this was not her BEST performance. The second Audrey Hepburn’s film I watched was Roman Holiday. There, she definitely became one of my favourite actresses and this film is my favourite movie of hers. During a long time, I had two favourite actresses: Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. I just couldn’t choose between the two. Well, one day, I took the big decision and chose Audrey as my favourite, maybe because I could identify myself better to the roles she was playing. Grace Kelly is marvellous too, I love her almost as much as Audrey, but as she mostly played the rich ladies, it’s harder for me to identify myself to her. Audrey Hepburn is the kind of actress, or I should say the kind of person, I would like to be friend with. Did I read about an actor or an actress who didn’t enjoy shooting a movie with Audrey? Not yet. Of course, when William Holden learnt that he was about to starred in a second film with Audrey Hepburn (Paris When it Sizzles), he thought it was not a very good idea. Also, it’s sad to say, but if I can think of an actor who didn’t have a perfect relationship with Audrey, it’s her first husband Mel Ferrer. Anyway, if I had lived during those days, I would have certainly loved to invite her for dinner or for a tea and talk about life and films.

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Just like my favourite actor James Stewart, Audrey Hepburn is the kind of actresses that, when she appears on screen, make me sight. From the minute I see her, I know that I will enjoy the movie only because she’s in it. Well, there are some exceptions like Paris When it Sizzles, but I don’t think it’s not a good movie, simply not her best. Well, it remains interesting, but a little “too much”. Anyway, I loved all the other Audrey Hepburn’s films that I’ve seen so far, which are Roman Holiday, Charade, Funny Face, The Unforgiven, Sabrina, My Fair Lady, The Children’s Hours, How To Steal a Million, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Love in the Afternoon. She has a great presence in each one of them and is simply unforgettable. What I also love about Audrey Hepburn is her voice, her talking and singing voice. It’s a sweet and melodious voice with a lovely little British accent. Just like Jean Simmons, she speaks very clearly, she has a perfect diction. That’s a great quality for an actress. I could recognize this voice everywhere. I can close my eyes and then you’ll ask me “who is talking?” and if it is Audrey, I will immediately tell you. I also love the fact that she could perfectly speak French! That’s my first language, just in case you didn’t know.

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I said sooner that  it was nice to identify herself with some Audrey Hepburn’s on screen roles. She never played a mean girl (well, I don’t think so. Holly Golightly is far from being perfect, but she is certainly not MEAN). That’s one of the reasons so many people love her. In real life, she was also a good person. She was kind, beautiful and a so loveable actress. I’ve seen seen a total of 11 Audrey Hepburn’s films. That’s great, but I certainly need to catch up and see Two For the Road, Wait Until Dark, The Nun’s Story and some others that I haven’t seen yet. I would also love to read one of her biographies. I hadn’t talk about this yet, but I always thought that Audrey Hepburn’s chemistry on screen with the other actors was great. She could act like fishes swim and also had the great talent to react. To me, one of her best team works was the one with Peter O’Toole in How to Steal a Million. Because they had such a great complicity, this film is so nice to watch.

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You know now that Roman Holiday is my favourite Audrey Hepburn’s film. Audrey had certainly a great complicity with Gregory Peck and I believe William Wyler loved her because she starred in two other of his films: The Children’s Hours and How to Steal a Million. What I like the most about this film is the fact that she is playing a princess who wants to enjoy life, I mean REAL life, not the cosy castle life. My second favourite is Love in the Afternoon. Directed by Billy Wilder, who also directed Sabrina, this is not her most famous film, but it’s one of her best. Paris, Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper. What can I ask more? The ending of this film is  one of my most favourites (I won’t tell you what it is for those who haven’t seen it yet). Love in the Afternoon is also what I can name our “Audrey Hepburn’s family film”. My mother, my father (who normally doesn’t really watch classic films) and I love it. Third favourite is How to Steal a Million. It’s such and enjoyable film and, as I just said, Audrey made a great team work with Peter O’Toole. I won’t talk about all her movies, but I would conclude this by an honorable mention to Stanley Donen’s Charade (Stanley Donen  also directed Audrey in Funny Face and Two for the Road). What I like about this film, one more time, is the great chemistry between the two leading actors: Audrey and the one and only Cary Grant, but also the fact that it really makes me think of an Hitchcock’s film. You all know that the Master of Suspense is my favourite movie director. Audrey Hepburn almost starred in an Hitchcock’s film, but the project was unfortunately never realized. I also adore the music in this film, especially the Charade Song.

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The Charade Song

I would like now to present you a top of my 5 most favourite Audrey Hepburn’s films:

1- Roman Holiday

2- Love in the Afternoon

3- How to Steal a Million

4- Breakfast at Tiffany’s

5- Sabrina

And, of course, you can watch my video tribute to her!

Audrey Hepburn was really one of a kind. There are so many great things to say about her! I think everybody should see an Audrey Hepburn’s film in their life. Well, happy birthday wonderful Audrey! 😀

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