Born to make this world better.

Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn

by Donald Spoto.

I gave 5 points (the maximum) not to the book, which is wrote a bit dry and boring, but due to the impression I got from the life of Fair Lady Hepburn. Her skills and kindness can admire everyone. It is hard to believe that this lady with non-stop smile had such a tragic life!

When she was born (4 May 1929), it was a second marriage of her mother – Dutch aristocrat. From the previous one Ella van Heemstra already had 2 children (boys).  Audrey was lacking a care and love of parents, as mother never showed her feeling and father was always distant, even being nearby. Talking about Mr. Ruston, most likely he married only because of noble title and money of  Baroness. And all the life mother was working to feed the family, but father always found an excuse to stay unemployed. When he had left the family (to join the Nazi stream) it was expected, but very tragic for a little girl and her mother. After this Audrey dreamed that one day her father will back home and that she will have a big family with many children in the future. Both dreams were never come true.

Even that the parents were members of the British Union of Fascists in the mid-1930, it didn’t help to escape the terror of Nazi. The dutch town Arnhem was occupied by Germans during the WW2. In terror and starvation, 11-years old girl found happiness in ballet. To survive, she had to get dutch passport (she got English nationality from her father) and talked only in Dutch. To stay alive the family ate tulip bulbs, as they didn’t have anything to eat. During such terrible period little Hepburn helped Dutch resistance by collecting money from dance performances, which they secretly organized in private houses with closed curtains and with candles instead of light. In the end of a play the audience stayed always silent, as they shouldn’t attract Nazi. But their eyes always showed real appreciation. Those was the best audience  Audrey ever had. Once she saved one English parachutist risking her life. Later this resistant invited her to his film.

The war and starvation made her so weak, that the ballet carrier was impossible. Another dream of her life crushed. She needed money to survive so that how film career started. After few periodical roles in 1951, a skinny and too young girl was finally invited by talented directors. By hard working and self-demanding she was a real treasure in film business. The first remarkable role Ms. Hepburn played in Roman Holiday (1953). This film gave her real fame and the best friend of her life – a legendary Hubert de Givenchy. They met in his fashion studio when Audrey get a chance to collect the cloth to her film. Later they helped each other without any hint of personal benefit: she bought his items instead of getting it for free, he created her personal perfume and dresses. At the same time she was playing in USA theater over a year and once she said, that only after the last performance she realized that finally she learned a bit how to act. Being already a world famous actress she always stayed modest and friendly unlike other celebrities.

Playing in Ondine on Broadway she met her future husband Mel Ferrer. It was a time when she wanted to have children, but could have one only after several miscarriages. Being an actor and producer, Mr. Ferrer tried to gain fame due to wife: he forced Audrey to play together (War and Peace) and filmed her in ridiculous movies (Green Mansions). In the end their marriage came to its logical end, which turns to  Ms. Hepburn a deep depression and long pause in filming. But before she got her most important role of her life, in  The Nun’s Story (1959). For this film she prepared with all responsibility: she spent a long time with nuns, slept in cold churches and became real friends with film prototype Sister Luke. Most likely this role was so close to  Audrey, that later she become as generous and given as nun. I think that she was waiting for this serious film all her life to give a chance to follow her real mission – help people. After almost 30 roles she realized that her main role is to be a mother to all children, not only to her 2 boys. Her Contributions to UNICEF was the dream job, as she said. The fame helped her to gain interest of society to poor children in Africa and Asia, also to the peace and environment problems. After her first field mission in Ethiopia in 1988 she realized that she have to dedicate herself to starving children, so she worked non-stop till the last days, just like nun Luk. With a salary of 1$ per year she gave all her energy and money to the charity. Together with her last partner  Robert Wolders (he loved and respect her like no one before)  Audrey visited dozen of poor countries with their mission. In late September after coming back from Somalia, Hepburn felt ill. After several medical researches it was obvious that she had cancer. Operations and therapy didn’t helped, so the last Christmas she wanted to spend with family. Givenchy arranged a private plane for transporting weak Audrey to home, as doctors said that she couldn’t stand a flight. In Switzerland she died at her 64 with a smile on her face. It was her best Christmas. She had a tragic life with loses and betrayals. She didn’t have a proper childhood and parents’ love. But she could survive and stayed the most kind and shiny person in Hollywood. Ms.  Hepburn was strong enough to raised her love to this world and all the children. With my all respect and admiration, I never thought how mentally strong this fragile lady was!

Audrey Hepburn quotes:

“I’m half-Irish, half-Dutch, and I was born in Belgium. If I was a dog, I’d be in a hell of a mess!”

“I have learnt how to live…how to be in the world and of the world, and not just to stand aside and watch.”

“As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

“Make-up can only make you look pretty on the outside but it doesn’t help if your ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the make-up.”

“I don’t take my life seriously, but I do take what I do – in my life – seriously -”

“I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I’d invented it, because it is very true.”

“When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that’s when I think life is over.”

“If I get married, I want to be very married.”

“ The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present, and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.”

“You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.”

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”