The Story of... Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was born May 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Belgium, as Audrey Kathleen Ruston. Later, her father adopted the surname of his British maternal grandmother, Kathleen Hepburn.

Her childhood was spent in the Netherlands. She attended the Arnhem Conservatory throughout World War Two (1939-1945) where she became a proficient ballerina.

In 1940, the Nazis invaded Arnhem. During this time, Audrey witnessed first-hand the persecution of the Jews. She secretly danced for groups of people while donating her money to the Dutch resistance.

By 1948, Audrey had moved to London with her mother and began her first acting roles, including small roles in European films, and eventually graduated to Broadway.

Her first leading role was in 1953's Roman Holiday. The performance won Hepburn a Golden Globe and began her ascent to icon status.

Over time, she became of the most successful film actresses in the world, performing alongside Hollywood legends including Gregory Peck, Cary Grant and Fred Astaire.

The above video examines Hepburn's enduring status as a fashion icon - and how her unique image and individuality changed the way feminine beauty is regarded in popular culture.

Hepburn's last screen appearance was in 1989's Always, directed by Steven Spielberg. Inspired by her war experiences, she would dedicate much of her time to UNICEF until her death in 1993, aged 63.

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her the third greatest female star of all time.

In May 2009, a rare stamp featuring Hepburn smoking a cigarette sold for $93,800 at an auction in Germany.

Only five copies of the 2001 stamp are known to exist, after her son, Sean Ferrer, ordered that the print run be destroyed because its depiction of his mother smoking.

Earlier this week, a Givenchy Chantilly lace cocktail gown worn by Hepburn in 1966's How to Steal a Million led an auction of her wardrobe at Kerry Taylor Auctions, bringing £60,000.

An ivory satin bridal gown, designed for Hepburn by the Fontana Sisters for her eventually cancelled wedding to James (later Lord) Hanson also sold for £13,800.

In total, the London sale netted £268,320, cementing Audrey Hepburn's perennial status as an admired and classic style icon.



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