(b. 4 May 1929 in Brussels, Belgium; d. 20 January 1993 in Tolochenaz, Switzerland), award-winning screen and stage star whose graceful beauty and Givenchy-inspired elegance created a distinctive 1960s style that made her one of the most admired and imitated women of her generation.
Hepburn, born Audrey Kathleen Ruston and baptized Edda Van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston, was the only child of Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, an Anglo-Irish banker and importer, and Ella van Heemstra, a baroness whose family had long-standing ties to the Dutch throne. She was born in the third year of their brief and volatile marriage. Van Heemstra's two sons from a previous marriage became Hepburn's playmates. Her parents became active fascists in Belgium and England, where the family spent its time. When her parents separated in 1935, Hepburn was sent to a boarding school in Kent, where she suffered from migraine headaches and a feeling of abandonment.
When World War II broke out in Europe, Hepburn was evacuated into Arnhem, in what was then neutral Holland, where she lived with her mother and half-brothers. One day after her eleventh birthday, the German army occupied Arnhem and the rest of Holland. One brother was sent to a forced labor camp, and the other went into the German army. During the war Hepburn took dancing lessons at the Arnhem Conservatory of Music and gave performances in people's basements to raise money for the Dutch resistance. She also carried messages in her shoes to resistance leaders. Hepburn's home was reduced to rubble on 17 September 1944, when the Nazis beat back an Allied offensive, forcing evacuation of the entire town. That winter Hepburn and her mother survived on tulip bulbs and grass pies. Hepburn suffered from jaundice and edema and became anemic and asthmatic. One day after her sixteenth birthday, the Germans surrendered, and food and emergency supplies sent by the United Nations reached the Rustons and other refugees.
After the war Hepburn studied dance with Sonia Gaskell in Amsterdam. Hepburn's first film work was as a KLM flight attendant in a thirty-nine-minute travelogue called Nederlands in 7 Lessen (1948). A bigger break was a scholarship to Marie Rambert's ballet school in London.
"Audrey Hepburn," as she was now billed, proved to be "a good worker and wonderful learner," but "too tall" at five feet, seven inches, and years behind in her training. Hepburn was devastated. She took modeling jobs and appeared in the chorus line of several West End productions, including High Button Shoes (1949), for eight pounds a week. Her almond eyes and long-legged good looks impressed impresario Cecil Landeau, who cast her in the musical-comedy revue Sauce Tartare in 1949 and Sauce Piquante in the spring of 1950.
Hepburn had bit and supporting roles in several British film comedies in 1951, including One Wild Oat, Young Wives Tale, Laughter in Paradise, and The Lavender Hill Mob. She was also given the second lead in The Secret People and, during its filming, was briefly engaged to the trucking magnate James Hanson. Hepburn traveled to the French Riviera in the summer of 1951 to film the forgettable Monte Carlo Baby. There she met the French novelist Colette, who gave her the lead role of the French courtesan in Gigi. The play opened in New York City's Fulton Theater on 24 November 1951, and Hepburn's reviews were even better than those of the play. One week later Hepburn's name went up on the theater marquee.
Hepburn played a princess opposite Gregory Peck in William Wyler's Roman Holiday in 1953, beguiling costars, critics, and audiences alike with her cinematic innocence and sophistication. Her slender elegance and graceful charm celebrated "the spirit of youth" and seemed an antidote to the pessimism of the postwar world. The film was a huge hit, and Hepburn received an Academy Award for best actress for her first major dramatic role.
Days after winning her Oscar, Hepburn received a Tony Award for her performance as a water sprite opposite Mel Ferrer's knight in the play Ondine. The couple married in Burgenstock, Switzerland, on 25 September 1954. By that time Hepburn had completed shooting Sabrina, opposite Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, a film that would win her another Oscar nomination and confirm her super-star status. The usually irascible director Billy Wilder thought Hepburn had "a special quality that every star needs." She made the Cinderella story of a chauffeur's daughter "look so unforced, so simple, so easy." The metamorphosis was greatly aided by the Paris couturier Hubert de Givenchy's bare-shouldered ball gown of white organdy that delicately feminized Hepburn's spare figure. The look served as an antidote to the lush sexuality of the "blonde bomb-shell" look then being popularized by Marilyn Monroe.
Wilder and Hepburn would collaborate again with Love in the Afternoon (1957). By then Hepburn had appeared in War and Peace (1956), opposite Ferrer, and in Stanley Donen's Funny Face (1957), with Fred Astaire. The latter was warmly received and allowed Hepburn to show her skill as a dancer. Richard Avedon's photography and Givenchy's gorgeous outfits made a lasting impression. The scene of Hepburn in a strapless red evening gown unfurling a red shawl behind her as she runs down a white marble staircase best captured the image of Hepburn as a fantasy nymph.
Hepburn entered the 1960s as the screen's most popular actress. Green Mansions (1959), directed by Ferrer, had done little to advance the career of either, but The Nun's Story (1959), directed by Fred Zinnemann on location in the Belgian Congo, became a personal favorite and made more money than any previous Warner Brothers release. The film reflected a new realism in Hepburn's movie roles. Critics found her performance of Sister Luke so subtly rich and suggestive that it required a second and third viewing to capture completely. The performance merited her third Oscar nomination in six films and won best actress honors from New York film critics and the British Film Academy.
The 1960s started with Hepburn's happiest role. After three miscarriages, her son Sean was born on 17 September 1960 in Lucerne, Switzerland. For nine months she staunchly turned aside all offers, including the part of Maria in West Side Story. John Huston's critically acclaimed The Unforgiven (1959) was released during this interval, with Hepburn playing the part of the foundling daughter of a frontier family. Few films better capture big city chic than Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), based on Truman Capote's sardonic summary of life among New York's glitter-ati. Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly, is in on the self-deception. Her swinging parties where sex mixes easily with sophistication are really a pretense, as she chases after South American millionaires and makes most of her money as a call girl. Later in the film, viewers learn she is really an acutely vulnerable backwoods girl named Lulamae Barnes with a much older husband. George Peppard plays a struggling writer suffering from a long dry spell who is fascinated and repelled by his intriguing neighbor. The outcome is a thoroughly modern romantic comedy of characters who struggle over uncertainty and personal identity. The performance is one of the most memorable of Hepburn's career and the decade and won her a fourth Academy Award nomination.
The film's award-winning score by Henry Mancini had Hepburn singing Johnny Mercer's lyrics to "Moon River." Its evocation of lost innocence and dreamlike hope made it the most recorded song of the decade. Long lasting too was the look Givenchy gave Hepburn for the film. Holly's oversized dark glasses and black evening gown, with long gloves topped by a rhinestone tiara in her upswept hair, became a 1960s standard of sophistication. Director Blake Edwards quickly discovered "the camera loved her." Hepburn said the excitement had to be generated "from the inside out." That was why "understanding" a character was her way of "re-creating" her. In Holly's case this meant "looking back to my days in London as I was starting out, hoping someone would notice me."
It was now impossible for Hepburn to go unnoticed. She was a reluctant interviewee, making her all the more attractive to fans starved for celebrity. The reclusive star was stalked by tabloid photographers and often retreated to her Burgenstock chalet to tend her gardens and raise her son. The Children's Hour (1961) reunited her with William Wyler, and Paris When It Sizzles (1962) returned her to the arms of William Holden. Her following film, Charade (1963), directed by Stanley Donen and costarring Cary Grant, became a huge hit. This homage to Alfred Hitchcock, set in Paris to a Henry Mancini score, has the two stars chased by a trio of sinister crooks in a polished piece of implausibility that delighted audiences and entertained the critics. Hepburn's salary was now $750,000 and a percentage of the picture's profits.
The role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1964) was one of the few parts Hepburn actually campaigned for. She loved the story of a cockney flower girl who is transformed into a gentlewoman by Professor Henry Higgins because of the character's "attractive vulnerability" and "beautiful inner strength." With $17 million staked on the film's success, Jack L. Warner snubbed Julie Andrews, who originated the part on Broadway, and sought a bankable leading lady to play opposite Rex Harrison. Hepburn was signed for a salary of $1.1 million.
The long-awaited film, directed by George Cukor, was a critical and box-office triumph, even though Hepburn's notices were uncharacteristically mixed. She had spent five weeks in rehearsal, planning to sing the songs Andrews had made so famous—"Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "Just You Wait," "The Rain in Spain," and "I Could Have Danced All Night," but at the last minute studio officials insisted the songs be dubbed by vocal understudy Marni Nixon. Hepburn, whose voice was pleasant if unspectacular, proceeded professionally. Trade papers made much of the film's eight Academy Awards and Hepburn's failure to even be nominated in the year that Andrews won an Oscar in her screen debut in M ary Poppins.
The Ferrers settled far away from Hollywood in an old country farmhouse in Tolochenaz, Switzerland, above Lake Geneva, which Hepburn christened "La Paisible" (the Peaceful). She worked only when she wanted to—with Wyler again in How to Steal a Million (1966), costar-ring Peter O'Toole, and Two for the Road (1967), directed by Donen and costarring Albert Finney. Hepburn and Finney portrayed a couple on the eve of divorce, paralleling the breakup of Hepburn's own marriage. Ferrer produced the highly successful Wait Until Dark (1967), in which Hepburn plays a blind woman terrorized by narcotic smugglers. The star's fifth Oscar nomination only deepened the impression that the proud Ferrer lived in his wife's considerable shadow. Hepburn wanted to work less, but Ferrer was filled with ambition for himself and his wife. Their separation was amicable and their divorce final on 5 December 1968. One month later, on 18 January 1969, Hepburn abruptly married Andrea Dotti, an outgoing Italian psychiatrist she had first met while filming Roman Holiday. Their son Luca was born on 8 February 1970.
Hepburn "withdrew from pictures to take care of my boys." For nine years she stayed off the screen, turning down offers to star in Forty Carats, Nicholas and Alexandra, The Turning Point, and other projects. She later admitted, "I would have liked to have made a few more movies, but I hate to think what I would have felt if I hadn't known my children." Hepburn came out of retirement to make Robin and Marian (1976) for her family. Hepburn's return to the screen created a good deal more excitement than the film. Even that, however, diminished with successive films—Bloodline (1979) and They All Laughed (1981)—pale imitations of Hepburn's previous work.
Hepburn had long been separated from Dotti, and in 1982 their divorce was finalized. She hosted a cable series "Gardens of the World," and appeared in only two features—Love Among Thieves, a 1987 television movie for the American Broadcasting Company, and Steven Spielberg's Always (1989), in which she had two brief scenes as a guardian angel. Hepburn, often accompanied by Dutch companion Robert Wolders, began traveling the world on behalf of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), speaking out for needy children and drawing attention to the plight of Third World families wracked by war, famine, and disease. As a goodwill ambassador she made hundreds of speeches, raising millions of relief dollars. Her last trip to drought-stricken Somalia in September 1992 publicized international famine relief efforts. Her impassioned plea for "collective responsibility" earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 from President George H. W. Bush, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, posthumously presented in 1993 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hepburn died at the age of sixty-three from colon cancer. She is buried in Tolochenaz. The American Film Institute listed Hepburn behind only Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis among significant actresses during the first century of filmmaking. At the height of her career she had made only sixteen films in thirteen years, but their impact was so stunning that she set a standard for substance and style that women have imitated ever since.
A summary of the literature on Hepburn is in David Hofstede, Audrey Hepburn: A Bio-Bibliography (1994). Major biographies include Charles Higham, Audrey: The Life of Audrey Hepburn (1984); Ian Woodward, Audrey Hepburn (1984); Robyn Karney, Audrey Hepburn: A Star Danced (1993); Diana Maychick, Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait (1993); Warren G. Harris, Audrey Hepburn: A Biography (1994); Alexander Walker, Audrey: Her Real Story (1995); and Barry Paris, Audrey Hepburn (1996). Hepburn's screen career is carefully chronicled in Caroline Latham, Audrey Hepburn (1984); and Jerry Vermilye, The Complete Films of Audrey Hepburn (1995). Hepburn's impact on the fashion of the 1960s is in Pamela Clarke Keogh, Audrey Style: The Subtle Art of Elegance (1999). A pictured presentation of her life is in Carol Krenz, Audrey: A Life in Pictures (1997). Also see Gene Ringgold, "Audrey Hepburn," Films in Review (Dec. 1971): 585–601. Obituaries are in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free-Press, and Los Angeles Times (all 21 Jan. 1993); People, Time, and Maclean's, (all 1 Feb. 1993); Entertainment Weekly (5 Feb. 1993); and Film Comment (Mar.–Apr. 1993). An appreciation by Sheridan Morley appears in the (London) Sunday Times (24 Jan. 1993). "Audrey Hepburn Remembered,"produced for the Public Broadcasting System in 1993, is a compilation of her infrequent broadcast and film interviews. Hepburn recounted her life and career in a Library of Congress series, "Reflections on the Silver Screen" (1990).
Bruce J. Evensen
Nationality: British. Born: Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston in Brussels, Belgium, 4 May 1929, to a British father and Dutch mother. Education: Studied ballet at Arnhem Conservatory of Music, Amsterdam, and in Marie Rambert's ballet school, London. Family: Married 1) the actor Mel Ferrer, 1954 (divorced 1968), son: Sean; 2) Andrea Dotti, 1969 (divorced), son Luca. Career: 1949—stage debut in chorus of High Button Shoes, London; studied acting with Felix Aylmer; 1951—film debut in Britain in small parts in several films; chosen by Colette to play title role in Broadway production of Gigi; 1953—American film debut in Roman Holiday; 1954—on Broadway stage in title role of Ondine; 1976—returned to films after long absence, in Robin and Marian; 1988—Special Ambassador for UNICEF. Awards: Best Actress Academy Award, Best Actress, New York Film Critics, and Best British Actress, British Academy, for Roman Holiday, 1953; Best British Actress, British Academy, for The Nun's Story, 1959; Best British Actress, British Academy, for Charade, 1964; Commander, Order of Arts and Letters, France, 1987; Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, 1993. Died: Of cancer, in Tolochenaz, Switzerland, 20 January 1993.
Films as Actress:
(as Edda Hepburn)
Nederland in 7 Lessen (Dutch at the Double) (Linden and Josephson)
(as Audrey Hepburn)
One Wild Oat (Saunders) (as extra); Laughter in Paradise (Zampi) (as cigarette girl); Young Wives' Tale (Cass) (as Eve Lester); The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton) (as Chiquita); Nous irons à Monte Carlo (Jean Boyer) (as Melissa Walter); Monte Carlo Baby (Jean Boyer and Fuller) (English version of Nous irons à Monte Carlo) (as Linda Farrel); Secret People (Dickinson) (as Nora Brent)
Introducing Audrey Hepburn (Dickinson—short); Roman Holiday (Wyler) (as Princess Anne)
Sabrina (Sabrina Fair) (Wilder) (title role)
War and Peace (King Vidor) (as Natasha Rostov)
Funny Face (Donen) (as Jo Stockton); Love in the Afternoon (Wilder) (as Ariane Chevasse); Mayerling (Anatole Litvak—for TV)
The Nun's Story (Zinnemann) (as Sister Luke); Green Mansions (Ferrer) (as Rima); The Unforgiven (Huston) (as Rachel Zachary)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (Edwards) (as Holly Golightly); The Children's Hour (The Loudest Whisper) (Wyler) (as Karen Wright)
Charade (Donen) (as Reggie Lambert)
Paris When It Sizzles (Quine) (as Gabrielle Simpson); My Fair Lady (Cukor) (as Eliza Doolittle)
How to Steal a Million (Wyler) (as Nicole Bonnet); Two for the Road (Donen) (as Joanna Wallace)
Wait until Dark (Terence Young) (as Susy Hendrix)
Robin and Marian (Lester) (as Marian)
Bloodline (Sidney Sheldon's Bloodline) (Terence Young) (as Elizabeth Roffe)
They All Laughed (Bogdanovich) (as Angela Niotes)
Directed by William Wyler (Slesin—doc) (as herself)
Love among Thieves (Roger Young—for TV) (as Baroness Caroline DuLac)
Always (Spielberg) (as Hap)
A Chance to Live (Barnes—for TV) (as presenter)
By HEPBURN: article—
Interview in Photoplay (London), August 1982.
On HEPBURN: books—
Higham, Charles, Audrey: A Biography of Audrey Hepburn, London, 1984.
Latham, Caroline, Audrey Hepburn, London, 1984.
Woodward, Ian, Audrey Hepburn, London, 1984.
Stresau, Norbert, Audrey Hepburn: ihre Filme, ihr Leben, Munich 1985.
Maychick, Diana, Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1993.
Harris, Warren G., Audrey Hepburn: A Biography, New York, 1994.
Hofstede, David, Audrey Hepburn: A Bio-Bibliography, Westport, Connecticut, 1994.
Karney, Robyn, A Star Danced: The Life of Audrey Hepburn, New York, 1995.
Vermilye, Jerry, The Complete Films of Audrey Hepburn, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1995.
Walker, Alexander, Audrey: Her Real Story, New York, 1995.
Paris, Barry, Audrey Hepburn, 1996.
Krenz, Carol, Audrey: A Life in Pictures, New York, 1997.
Byczynski, Stuart J., Audrey Hepburn: A Secret Life, Lawrenceville, 1998.
Hepburn Ferrer, Sean, Audrey: A Son Remembers, New York, 1999.
Keogh, Pamela Clarke, Audrey Style: The Subtle Art of Elegance, New York, 1999.
On HEPBURN: articles—
Current Biography 1954, New York, 1954.
Viotti, S., "Britain's Hepburn," in Films and Filming (London), November 1954.
Simon, Brett, "Audrey Hepburn," in Films and Filming (London), March 1964.
Braun, E., "The Hepburn Quality Revisited," in Films (London), August 1981.
Thompson, F., "Audrey Hepburn," in American Film (Hollywood), May 1990.
Obituary in New York Times, 21 January 1993.
Wilson, Elizabeth, "Audrey Hepburn: Fashion, Film and the 50s," in Screen (London), March 1993.
Corliss, Richard, "Serene Majesty," obituary in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1993.
Collins, Amy Fine, "When Hubert Met Audrey," in Vanity Fair (New York), December 1995.
O'Neill, Eithne, "Dans les boutiques du ciel: Audrey Hepburn et son costumier Hubert de Givenchy," in Positif (Paris), July-August 1996.
* * *
When Audrey Hepburn died in 1993 at the age of 63, the world mourned a film star who on-screen and off embodied grace, elegance, and strength. At the pinnacle of her screen career, Hepburn gave her audience the perfect postwar combination of tomboy and sophisticate. After her semiretirement from film in the late 1960s, Hepburn held an honorary place among the Hollywood royalty. In 1988 she began her second career as a tireless special ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Holly Golightly—whether dressed in a black Givenchy, enormous hat, and oval sunglasses hailing a taxi with a shrill whistle or in pigtails, sitting on the fire escape strumming "Moon River" on her guitar—epitomizes for many fans the essence of Audrey Hepburn's film career. Marked by the internal contradictions of big city sophistication and rural, childlike innocence, Holly appears fragile, yet by the end of Breakfast at Tiffany's the audience discovers her inner strength.
Like Holly Golightly, Hepburn's past contributed greatly to the complexity and richness of her public persona. Hepburn was born in Belgium in 1929 to a Dutch baroness and an English banker who left when Hepburn was six years old. Trapped in Nazi-occupied Holland with her mother throughout World War II, Hepburn was reduced to eating tulip bulbs. She survived the war, but suffered many problems associated with malnutrition. The waiflike fragility which so many have admired and emulated was one result of wartime hardship.
After the war, Hepburn moved to London where she studied ballet and worked as a dancer and model. Her film career began unnoticeably with several small parts in English movies. A chance meeting with the writer Colette landed Hepburn on Broadway in the title role of the hit show Gigi. She received critical acclaim, but was not chosen to recreate the role on-screen. (The role went to Leslie Caron who has similar physical attributes.) Two years later, in her first major U.S. film role as Princess Anne in William Wyler's Roman Holiday, Hepburn captured her audience's heart and won an Academy Award.
Part of Hollywood's royalty, Hepburn played opposite the realm's most handsome charming princes—Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Henry Fonda, and Fred Astaire. That most of her leading men were older than her added to her gamine elegance and mystique.
As Sabrina Fairchild, a chauffeur's daughter, Hepburn was torn between the smooth, handsome bachelor played by William Holden and his serious, businesslike older brother (Humphrey Bogart). Following her heart, Sabrina makes the right choice. Audrey Hepburn's characters would continue to make the heart's choice in all her bestloved movies. Her audiences loved and trusted her because she played characters whose hearts, if occasionally misguided, in the end were true and kind.
Sabrina also marked the beginning of Hepburn's lifelong intimate friendship with the French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy. She considered Givenchy one of her best friends and he has referred to her as a sister. He designed most of her screen clothes and she wore his designs offscreen as well. The clothes he designed for her almost always accentuated her long neck and showed off her strong shoulders. The Hepburn/Givenchy look countered the torpedo-breasted voluptuousness of the 1950s ideal woman. Hepburn gave women the possibility of a dignified, comfortable look in which intelligence and wit matter as much as physical beauty.
Princess Anne, Sabrina, and Holly Golightly share qualities with all of Audrey Hepburn's roles: as the daughter of a private detective in Love in the Afternoon, an empathicist bookseller turned photographer's muse in Funny Face, a typist in Paris When It Sizzles, and the daughter of an eccentric art forger in How to Steal a Million, Hepburn charmed with her gamine elegance, her chic wardrobe, her indistinctly European accent, her intelligent, simple beauty, and her wide, expressive eyes. With The Nun's Story, The Children's Hour, and Two for the Road, she successfully attempted grittier roles. Her 1967 portrayal of Suzie Hendrix, a blind woman trapped by a killer in Wait until Dark, proved Hepburn capable of an edgy, tensile performance. During her semiretirement following Wait until Dark, Hepburn returned to the big screen a few times, most notably perhaps in her critically acclaimed role opposite Sean Connery in Robin and Marion. Hepburn's two-decade reign as one of Hollywood's most extraordinary stars seems almost a fairy-tale interlude in a life ravaged by war and then spent serving others similarly ravaged. A former recipient of UNICEF relief aid, she considered her role as UNICEF special ambassador one of the most important in her life. Her final film appearance as Hap, the romantic angel in Steven Spielberg's Always, left us with a screen image of what Hepburn always was—a serene, radiant presence with force of spirit whose effortless elegance and sovereignty inspires us all.
—Ilene S. Goldman
like1 / līk/ • prep. 1. having the same characteristics or qualities as; similar to: there were other suits like mine in the shop they were like brothers she looked nothing like Audrey Hepburn. ∎ in the manner of; in the same way or to the same degree as: he was screaming like a banshee you must run like the wind. ∎ in a way appropriate to: students were angry at being treated like children. ∎ such as one might expect from; characteristic of: just like you to put a damper on people's enjoyment. ∎ used in questions to ask about the characteristics or nature of someone or something: What is it like to be a tuna fisherman? What's she like? 2. used to draw attention to the nature of an action or event: I apologize for coming over unannounced like this why are you talking about me like that? 3. such as; for example: the cautionary vision of works like Animal Farm and 1984. • conj. inf. 1. in the same way that; as: people who change countries like they change clothes. 2. as though; as if: I felt like I'd been kicked by a camel. • n. used with reference to a person or thing of the same kind as another: the quotations could be arranged to put like with like I know him—him and his like. ∎ (the like) a thing or things of the same kind (often used to express surprise or for emphasis): did you ever hear the like? a church interior the like of which he had never seen before. • adj. (of a person or thing) having similar qualities or characteristics to another person or thing: I responded in like manner the grouping of children of like ability together. ∎ (of a portrait or other image) having a faithful resemblance to the original: “Who painted the dog's picture? It's very like.” • adv. 1. inf. used in speech as a meaningless filler or to signify the speaker's uncertainty about an expression just used: there was this funny smell—sort of dusty like. 2. inf. used to convey a person's reported attitude or feelings in the form of direct speech (whether or not representing an actual quotation): so she comes into the room and she's like "Where is everybody?" 3. (like as/to) archaic in the manner of: like as a ship with dreadful storm long tossed. PHRASES: and the like and similar things; et cetera. like anything inf. to a great degree: they would probably worry like anything. (as) like as not probably: she would be in bed by now, like as not. like enough (or most like) archaic probably: he'll have lost a deal of blood, I dare say, and like enough he's still losing it. like ——, like —— as —— is, so is ——: like father, like son. like so inf. in this manner: the votive candles are arranged like so. the likes of inf. used of someone or something regarded as a type: she didn't want to associate with the likes of me. more like inf. nearer to (a specified number or description) than one previously given: he believes the figure should be more like $10 million. ∎ (more like it) nearer to what is required or expected; more satisfactory. of (a) like mind (of a person) sharing the same opinions or tastes. like2 • v. [tr.] 1. find agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory: I like all Angela Carter's stories people who don't like reading books I like to be the center of attention. 2. wish for; want: would you like a cup of coffee? I'd like to rent a car I'd like you to stay [intr.] we would like for you to work for us. ∎ (would like to do something) used as a polite formula: we would like to apologize for the late running of this service. ∎ (not like doing/to do something) feel reluctant to do something: I don't like leaving her on her own too long. ∎ choose to have (something); prefer: how do you like your coffee? ∎ [in questions] feel about or regard (something): how would you like it if it happened to you? • n. (likes) the things one likes or prefers: a wide variety of likes, dislikes, tastes, and income levels. PHRASES: if you like 1. if it suits or pleases you: we could go riding if you like. 2. used when expressing something in a new or unusual way: it's a whole new branch of chemistry, a new science if you like. I like that! used as an exclamation expressing affront. like it or not inf. used to indicate that someone has no choice in a matter: you're celebrating with us, like it or not. not like the look (or sound) of find worrying or alarming: I don't like the look of that head injury.
Audrey Hepburn was a popular movie actress who won an Academy Award in 1954 for her work in Roman Holiday. She also worked with the United Nations to improve the lives of the poor, especially children.
Audrey Hepburn was born in Brussels, Belgium, on May 4, 1929, the daughter of J. A. Hepburn-Ruston and Baroness Ella van Heemstra. Her father, a banker, deserted the family when she was only eight years old. Hepburn was attending school in England when the Germans invaded Poland at the start of World War II (1939–45; a war fought mostly in Europe, with Germany, Italy, and Japan on one side and the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union on the other). England had promised to help Poland, which they did by declaring war on Germany. Hepburn's mother took her to live with relatives in Holland, thinking they would be safer there. The Germans soon invaded Holland, though, leading to the deaths of many of Hepburn's relatives and forcing her and her mother to struggle just to stay alive. Sometimes she had nothing to eat except flour. Still, as a young ballet dancer, she performed in shows to help raise money for the Dutch war effort.
Discovery and fame
Hepburn and her mother moved to England after the war, and she continued to pursue her dance career. She was cast in bit parts on stage and in films in both Holland and England before being discovered in 1952 by the French novelist Colette (1873–1954) in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Colette insisted that Hepburn play the lead role in the Broadway production of her novel Gigi. Although Hepburn's lack of experience was a problem at first, she improved steadily, and reviews of the show praised her performance. She also won a Theatre World Award for her work.
Hepburn's nationwide exposure in Gigi also brought her to Hollywood's attention. She was given a starring role in Paramount Studios' Roman Holiday. Costarring Gregory Peck (1916–), the 1953 film tells the tale of a runaway princess who is shown around Rome, Italy, by a reporter who falls in love with her. He then convinces her to resume her royal duties. The role landed Hepburn an Academy Award for best actress at the age of twenty-four.
Hepburn was now highly sought after. Director Billy Wilder (1906–2002) signed her up in 1954 for his new film, Sabrina. The movie was about a chauffeur's (someone who is paid to drive a wealthy person's car) daughter whose education in France makes her the toast of Long Island, New York, society. Hepburn costarred with William Holden (1918–1981) and Humphrey Bogart (1899–1957), who was her love interests in the film.
Hepburn went on to share the screen with all of the top leading men of her time: Cary Grant (1904–1986), Fred Astaire (1899–1987), Rex Harrison (1908–1990), Mel Ferrer (1917–) (whom she married in 1954 and divorced in 1968), and Sean Connery (1930–). In 1959 she made her first serious film, The Nun's Story. Hepburn and Albert Finney (1936–) were applauded for their strong acting. Of Hepburn's twenty-seven films, quite a few have become classics. She was nominated (her name was put forward for consideration) for three other Academy Awards in addition to the one she won for Roman Holiday.
Works on behalf of children
After 1967's spooky Wait Until Dark, in which she plays a blind woman being pursued by a killer, Hepburn stopped working for a while. Acting became secondary in her life, as she bore a child at age forty during her thirteen-year marriage to Italian physician Andrea Dotti. Hepburn chose to spend her time with her two sons and work for the international children's relief organization UNICEF. "If there was a cross between the salt of the earth and a regal queen," actress Shirley MacLaine (1934–) told People magazine, "then she was it."
Hepburn made only four more movies between 1976 and 1989. The last, Always, featured her in a brief role as an angel. Money was not an issue; besides her own income, Hepburn lived in Switzerland with Robert Wolders, the wealthy widower of actress Merle Oberon (1911–1979), for the last twelve years of her life. Hepburn continued her work for UNICEF and was named the organization's goodwill ambassador (representative) in 1988. Hepburn worked in the field, nursing sick children and reporting on the suffering she witnessed. Hepburn traveled to Somalia in 1992, and her sad but hopeful account focused worldwide attention on the famine and warfare that would eventually kill thousands in that West African country.
Shortly before her death in January 1993, Audrey Hepburn was given the Screen Actors Guild award for lifetime achievement. Unable to accept in person, she asked actress Julia Roberts (1967–) to accept the honor in her place. While Hepburn's acting was highly appreciated in her lifetime, she would probably rather be remembered as UNICEF's hardworking fairy godmother.
For More Information
Keough, Pamela Clark. Audrey Style. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.
Walker, Alexander. Audrey: Her Real Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.
Woodward, Ian. Audrey Hepburn. London: W. H. Allen, 1984.
Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) was an engaging screen actress who won an Academy Award in 1954 for her work in Roman Holiday. She also worked with the United Nations to alleviate the misery of the poor.
Peerless in her screen presence, actress Audrey Hepburn had huge brown eyes, a husky voice, and a dancer's gracefulness—qualities that seduced the entire moviegoing world. While Hepburn was never an actress with a wide range and had very little acting training, she was never boring. According to People, Humphrey Bogart once said of her style, "With Audrey it's kind of unpredictable. She's like a good tennis player—she varies her shots." Certainly every fan has chosen his or her favorite Hepburn moment; for some its Hepburn's regal entrance in the denouement of My Fair Lady, with her towering hairdo and sweetly serious expression, while others may prefer her playful dance sequence in a book store in Funny Face. In any case, Hepburn's most successful movies capitalized on her childlike qualities, pairing her with an older actor whose character was eventually disarmed by her inestimable charm. Several years after she was chosen by Colette to star in the Broadway version of the French author's Gigi, Hepburn burst onto the Hollywood scene with 1953's Roman Holiday. Costarring Gregory Peck, the film tells the tale of a runaway princess who is shown around Rome by a reporter smitten with love for her. He nonetheless convinces her to resume her royal duties. The role landed Hepburn an Oscar at the tender young age of 24 for best actress. Full of adoration, Jay Cocks described the last scene of the film in Time, remarking that Peck's close up expressions of loss "would have been nonsense if Peck did not have something wonderful and irreplaceable to miss. He had Audrey Hepburn."
Her Humanitarian Work
In turn, Hepburn yielded to a calling other than acting, preferring to spend her time with her two sons and working for UNICEF. "If there was a cross between the salt of the earth and a regal queen," Shirley MacLaine told People, "then she was it." An articulate and impassioned spokeswoman, Hepburn was named the goodwill ambassador for the international children's relief organization UNICEF in 1988. Instead of using the title for travel privileges and charity balls, Hepburn worked in the field, nursing sick children and reporting on the suffering she witnessed. Her last plea proved most moving; Hepburn had traveled to Somalia in the fall of 1992, and her sad but hopeful account galvanized the world's response to the dreadful famine and warfare that would eventually kill thousands in that West African country. For all her otherworldly good looks, Hepburn was a down-to-earth, sensible actress in a Hollywood of excess.
Perhaps Hepburn's humility sprung from her childhood. Her father, an English-Irish banker, deserted her family when she was only 8 years old. Another traumatic mark was left by the Nazi occupation of Holland during World War II. Her mother, a Dutch baroness, had sent the youngster to the Germanic nation at the beginning of the war to live with relatives. People noted that "along with her grandparents, she received food from a relief agency—UNICEF's precursor. 'Your soul is nourished by all your experiences,' she once said.'It gives you baggage for the future—and ammunition, if you like."' The once chubby Hepburn was whittled down by a diet that sometimes consisted only of flour made from tulip bulbs; nonetheless, as a fledgling ballet dancer, she sometimes carried messages for the Resistance in her toe shoes. Many years later she politely refused to make a movie of The Diary of Anne Frank as she felt the young Jewish girl's experience of World War II too closely mirrored her own. While memories of fear, deprivation, and cattlecars full of deportees populated her dreams for the rest of her life, Hepburn utilized her experiences in ministering to the world's starving children, many of whom did not know that the beautiful woman was a movie star.
Hepburn and her mother moved to England to pursue her dance career after the war. She was cast in bits parts on stage and screen in both Holland and England before she had the good fortune to be discovered by Colette in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Because Colette insisted Hepburn play Gigi, the young woman was thrust into an entertainment world that would compete fiercely for her. In 1952 she won a Theatre World Award for Gigi, followed a year later by the Academy Award she won for Roman Holiday. A hot commodity, director Billy Wilder snapped her up in 1954 for his new film. Sabrina, about a chauffeur's daughter whose education in Paris makes her the toast of Long Island society, costarred William Holden and Humphrey Bogart as her love interests. Eventually Hepburn shared the screen with all the best leading men of her time: Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Rex Harrison, Mel Ferrer (whom she wed in 1954 and divorced in 1968), and Sean Connery. Of Hepburn's 27 films, quite a few have become classics and only a few films are generally acknowledged to be bad. Although Hepburn had knocked everyone out with her 1956 portrayal of Natasha in War and Peace, another big movie did not fare so well. Green Mansions was a fantasy in which Hepburn gamboled as a birdgirl. Directed by Ferrer, the adaptation from W. H. Hudson's novel of the same name was thought laughable by some. The same year, 1959, she made her first serious film, The Nun's Story. Seeking meatier roles, Hepburn disinte-grating during a motorcycle trip across France. Hepburn and Albert Finney were applauded for their realistic portrayals. After l967's spooky Wait Until Dark, in which she plays a blind woman who ultimately bests a psychotic, Hepburn took on an extended sabbatical. Acting became secondary in her life, as she bore a child at age 40 during her 13-year marriage to Italian physician Andrea Dotti. Hepburn made only four more movies between 1976 and 1989. The last, Always, featured her in a cameo as an angel. Money was not a consideration; besides her own income, Hepburn lived in Switzerland with Robert Wolders, the wealthy widower of actress Merle Oberon, for the last 12 years of her life (she died in 1993). Though Hepburn was nominated for three Oscars after Roman Holiday, she never won again. Shortly before her death, she was given the Screen Actors Guild award for lifetime achievement. Unable to accept in person she sent actress Julia Roberts to accept the honor in her place. While Hepburn's acting was highly appreciated in her lifetime, she would doubtless prefer to be remembered as UNICEF's hardworking fairy godmother.
Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1993
Detroit Free Press, January 21, 1993
Entertainment Weekly, February 5, 1993
New York Times, January 25, 1993
People, February 1, 1993
Time, February 1, 1993
Times (London), January 22, 1993 □
Audrey Hepburn, 1929–93, film actress, b. Brussels as Audrey Kathleen Ruston. The daughter of an English banker and a Dutch baroness, she and her mother lived in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. Moving to London, she studied ballet and acting, modeled, danced, and played bit parts before being cast in the title role in the Broadway production of Gigi (1951). Thereafter, except for one other stage role (Ondine, 1954, Tony Award), she worked exclusively in films. Hepburn's luminous beauty, elfin slimness, unplaceably patrician accent, and blend of wistful simplicity and worldly chic are particularly evident in such roles as the young princess in Roman Holiday (1953; Academy Award), her first star turn; the chauffeur's daughter in Sabrina (1954); clerk turned model in Funny Face (1957), and the fabulous Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). She was a major star of the 1950s and 60s, playing opposite many of the era's leading men. Her other films include War and Peace (1956), The Nun's Story (1959), Charade (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), and Wait until Dark (1967). She retired in the late 1960s and devoted much of her life to humanitarian causes, becoming (1988) goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Occasionally she returned to the screen, gracing such unremarkable films as Robin and Marian (1976) and Always (1989).
See memoir by her son S. H. Ferrer (2003); biographies by A. Walker (1994), B. Paris (1996), and D. Spoto (2006); J. Vermilye, The Complete Films of Audrey Hepburn (1995).
like will to like proverbial saying, late 14th century, meaning that those of similar nature and inclination are drawn together. A similar idea is found in Homer's Odyssey, ‘the god always brings like to like’, and the writings of the Roman orator and statesman Cicero (106–43 bc), ‘according to the old proverb equals most easily mix together.’