This morning I got up at an actually reasonable time, got dressed in (questionably) the chicest outfit I could muster up from my suitcase and headed down to the underground to get the tube to Sloane Square. I stopped on the way to buy a hot chocolate and a pain au chocolat to go, then made it to my destination – Tiffany & Co. Today is Audrey Hepburn’s birthday, so I had my very own Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
After eating my croissant and gazing at the diamonds in the window, I then waited around for a while before I plucked up the courage to ask a really nice lady if she could take my photo, and explained what I was doing. She was so nice, called me glamourous and then posed me for numerous shots and checked that I was happy with them before leaving. I didn’t get her name but she made me very very happy and she will stay in my mind for a very long time. She was very Audrey-esque in her kindness, which just made the whole experience even better. Happy Maddy.
As I have said time and time again on fivethreeninety, Audrey Hepburn is my absolute muse. Since I first saw her on the screen I have been entranced by her sweet yet powerful presence, and then fell in love with her as a person.
She went from a starving child living in Nazi occupation to film star to charity worker, and was loved by every single person she met along the way. The charm of Audrey Hepburn is that she is as joyful and giving person as she seems in her films, and was never really disliked by anybody.
Her legacy lives on today in so many ways, including in the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund – a charity co-founded and chaired by her sons. The charity continues to do the work that Audrey so firmly believed in, as shown by her work with Unicef.
I posted a big summary of my favourite personal Audrey Hepburn moments back in January on the anniversary of her death – you can read that here. Today, I’m going to do a sort of recommended reading and watching for you to venture forth and introduce yourself to the iconic grace that was Audrey Hepburn!
As a child I was taught that it was bad manners to draw attention to yourself and never ever make a spectacle of yourself. I then when on to make a rather nice living from doing just that
So said Audrey in her speech at the 1992 British Academy of Film & Television Awards after being presented with a BAFTA Special Award for her lifetime of service to the cinema industry. Audrey’s film career spanned from 1949 to 1989 as she took to the screen in thirty three films. Here are some of my favourites:
Roman Holiday is not only my favourite Audrey film, but possibly my favourite film of all time. It’s a tie between five or so others. To anyone who isn’y sure about black and white films, or anything from the Old Hollywood era I can’t recommend this enough, as the story, acting, music and everything is so beautiful. Basically it’s about a young Princess named Ann, who makes an escape from her responsibilities while on a royal visit to Rome and befriends a reporter who shows her the city. That reporter is played by the ever dreamy Gregory Peck, who was a massive advocate of Audrey in her first ever starring film role – that she later went on to win an Academy Award for. It’s also shot entirely on location in Rome so it’s just visually stunning.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
This is iconic for a reason. The 1961 adaptation of the book by Truman Capote is regarded by many as the most stylish film to ever grace the silver screen, and the character of Holly Golightly one of the most iconic women of all time. The role of the troubled yet well dressed call girl/ escort was originally going to be handed to Marilyn Monroe, but was ultimately given to Hepburn so as to not so obviously show she was a call girl. The film is a loose adaptation admittedly, but was wholly approved by Capote and by fans worldwide – despite the racist Mickey Rooney role.
This film is really just delightful. I think this is maybe Audrey’s most innocent and charming role, as she plays young bookshop owner Jo, a girl who is discovered and roped into the modelling industry despite her protests that she has a ‘funny face’. It’s a musical also starring Fred Astaire, and has really beautiful shots of Paris.
The Nun’s Story
A lot of people consider this to be Audrey’s shining role as she portrays Sister Luke, a young woman who makes the decision to enter a convent, and then struggle with the repercussions of being a nun, all in the hopes of eventually becoming a missionary nursing sister in the Belgian Congo. Audrey often cited that this was perhaps her favourite film of hers, and you can really see why.
Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit
By Sean Hepburn-Ferrer
This beautiful biography and tribute to Audrey was written by her eldest son, and is such an intimate insight into the actress and her life. Filled with stories and photos that had never before been seen, this is just really such a special book.
Audrey in Rome
By Luca Dotti
This book was assembled by Audrey’s second son, Luca, and includes almost 200 photographs of Audrey – most of which had never been seen before. It’s a gorgeously personal look into her life.
Audrey at Home: Memories of my Mother’s kitchen
By Luca Dotti
This is such a gorgeous book that’s part biographical, part recipe book and is again written by Audrey’s youngest son Luca. In the book he gives recipes favoured by his mother, and splices them with food related tales from his childhood. Growing up as a starving child in the war, and after her work with Unicef, Audrey really believed in the power behind good food, and famously said that she never travelled anywhere without pasta.
You can follow Audrey’s son, Luca Dotti on Twitter here.
You can visit The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund charity page here.
For the ultimate guide, go to rareaudreyhepburn.com. They really have everything you could ever wish to find about Audrey, and they’re supported by Audrey’s son Luca too.
Watch Audrey win Best Actress at the 1954 Academy Awards, and see her being presented with her Oscar by another favourite of mine, Donald O’Connor here.
Watch Audrey’s BAFTA speech that I quoted earlier here
I hope that these starters can give you a headway into learning about the beautiful spirit that was Audrey Hepburn. I really, really, really love her. In case you couldn’t tell.