Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
Was there ever an actress who combined these
four timeless qualities—beauty, fashion, grace and humility—better than Audrey
Hepburn? I think not, especially when I see her again in “Breakfast at
an actress who could come close (and I can think of none) would in no way match
the humility of Audrey Hepburn. We shall not see another like her in our
lifetime and by then the film industry may be on the way out when some newer,
better technology unknown to us today arrives.
the more reason to purchase her five most memorable movies in DVD now while
they are still available.
First would be her Oscar winning Best Actress performance in
Roman Holiday opposite Gregory Peck, which was also her first starring role in
an American film.
next four would be her Best Actress Oscar nominations for “Sabrina”, “The Nun’s
Story”, “Wait Until Dark” (one of the two scariest movies I have ever seen) and
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the Oscar went to Sophia Loren for “Two Women”).
at Tiffany’s had two great assets, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, the young
New York socialite (we say socialite because this movie was released in 1961,
45 years ago), and Director Blake Edwards, whose deft, sensitive handling of
Hepburn’s character (a high-priced prostitute) could not have been done better.
Holly Golightly’s beauty, sense of fashion and pure
innocence prohibit me from thinking of her as a woman of the night. She is so
inherently stylish. God has not made a woman that could wear clothes better than
has Holly Golightly floating around in Givenchy gowns with matchless grace and
at Tiffany’s is based on Truman Capote’s novel with the screenplay by George
Axelrod, who also garnered an Oscar nomination.
Mancini (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics) teamed up to win an Oscar for the
Original Song “Moon River” while Mancini earned another Oscar as well
as a Grammy for Best Musical Score.
story line has the two romantic interests dependent upon others for financial
support, Holly as a lady of the night and Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a
wannabe writer who is kept by the married and wealthy Mrs. Failenson (Patricia
Neal). Eventually Holly and Paul experience some personal growth and find love
There are matchless moments in this film that find places
forever in your heart. One is Hepburn sitting on the fire escape plaintively
singing “Moon River,” especially when you remember that the theme of
your high school senior prom was Moon River, and that you were with the girl
you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. It is a rare opportunity to
hear Hepburn sing in the movie.
recorded singing vocals for her role as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” only
to discover that professional “singing double” Marni Nixon had
overdubbed all of her songs.
was not nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in this film, but her love interest
Rex Harrison won the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Professor Henry Higgins.
The “little black dress” worn by Hepburn in Breakfast
at Tiffany’s was designed by Givenchy and sold at Christie’s auction this year
(2006) for $920,000 with the proceeds going to aid underprivileged children in
India. It was not the one worn by Hepburn in the movie.
only two dresses she wore are now in the Givenchy archives and the Museum of
Costume in Madrid, Spain.
Audrey Hepburn’s performance there are times when we are delighted by sweet
innocence in a woman. You cannot imagine how difficult this is to find in
Hepburn became a beauty and fashion icon, and although she did enjoy fashion,
she placed little importance on it, preferring casual and comfortable clothes
away from the bright lights and cameras.
I do want to give Breakfast at Tiffany’s an Excellent
rating but cannot because of too many flaws in the film. I can easily give
Audrey Hepburn an Excellent rating for her performance as Holly Golightly.
15 years as a highly successful actress Audrey Hepburn chose to lead a quieter
life far away from Hollywood. She was married twice, first to actor Mel Ferrer
and then to Italian doctor Andrea Dotti and had a son with each.
was Belgian by birth and would grow up with her mother in The Netherlands,
nearly starving to death during the Nazi occupation in World War II when the
Dutch food and fuel supplies were cut off. Tragically, she suffered through
watching her uncle and cousin being shot to death for being part of the
She rose from the horrific atrocities of her youth to find
fame and fortune in America and in the last four years of her life (1988 to
1992) became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s
four months before her death from abdominal cancer she went on a mission to
Somalia and was devastated to see the nightmare of famine and carnage.
Hepburn was the picture of beauty, fashion and grace but never for a minute let
her success go to her head, and most certainly never led a Hollywood lifestyle
of overblown debauchery so much in evidence in moviemaking and Tinseltown
See Breakfast at Tiffany’s because Audrey Hepburn became an important contributor to our time and culture. She not only represented the best in professional growth but made her life a legacy with her personal growth. She was a model of grace and humility in a world with little of either.
Pardon Me, I Am Gushing Again About Hollywood’s Incomparable Actress: Audrey Hepburn
© 2008 Ed Bagley
a lot of shoppers at supermarkets, I look at the magazine displays while
waiting in line to check out. Recently I was thrilled to see a recent edition
to LIFE’s Great Photographers Series: Remembering Audrey 15 Years Later with
photographs by Bob Willoughby.
my review of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” I posed this question: Was
there ever an actress who combined these four timeless qualities—beauty,
fashion, grace and humility—better than Audrey Hepburn? My answer was simply, I
better believe I bought a copy of Remembering Audrey faster than a single heartbeat
and remain a better person for having done so.
was born in Los Angeles—the city of the stars—and began taking pictures when he
was 12. He was good, very good, and best described as a prodigy. In 1953, when
he was 26, he would be assigned to photograph an upcoming soon to be actress,
Audrey Hepburn. The result of their meeting would produce one of his most
positive relationships, both as a photographer and a friend.
pioneered the role of the “special” photographer to take formal
publicity shots and candids of the stars Hollywood’s publicity departments
wanted to promote. He was credited by Popular Photography magazine as the man
“who virtually invented the photojournalistic motion-picture still.”
images that you remember of James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton, Peter
O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn among dozens of others were mostly the work of Bob
Willoughby. All the major magazines of the day—LIFE, Look, Saturday Evening
Post and Harper’s Bazaar—published his work
creations grace the exhibits in more than 500 museums in more than 50 countries
around the world.
first meeting Audrey, Willoughby said, “She took my hand and dazzled me
with a smile that God designed to melt mortal men’s hearts.
amazing instant contact she always made was a remarkable gift, and I know from
talking to others that it was felt by all who met her.”
had made a big impression with the studio brass in the 1953 William Wyler film
“Roman Holiday”. She won an Oscar for Best Actress as Princess Ann in
her film debut playing opposite Gregory Peck.
the next 15 years, she would be nominated for 4 Best Actress Oscars for her
work as Sabrina Fairchild in “Sabrina” (1954), Sister Luke in
“The Nun’s Story” (1959), Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at
Tiffany’s” (1961), and Susy Hendrix in “Wait Until Dark” (1967).
also won a Golden Globe for Best Drama Actress in Roman Holiday and had an
additional 6 Golden Globe nominations as Best Actress. Lesser known is the fact
that Audrey was one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy, a Grammy and a
Tony Award as well as an Oscar.
Willoughby’s formal and candid photographs of Audrey Hepburn will stand the
test of time as some of the greatest ever taken of a woman and an actress. He
said that Audrey never took a bad photograph, or even a mediocre one.
could sit next to an old ladder on the set and look terrific,” said
Willoughby. With designs by Hubert de Givenchy, the world’s most smashing woman
wore the world’s most smashing fashions.
became the most charming, disarming, altogether friendly and charismatic
superstar ever to grace a Hollywood production. According to Willoughby,
everyone liked Audrey and remained loyal to her. The best directors and the
world’s greatest designers sought to work with her.
was said that all her leading men fell in love with her, including Gregory
Peck, William Holden, Anthony Perkins, Rex Harrison and Albert Finney.
making My Fair Lady Audrey would not be recognized for her role as Eliza Doolittle.
She had been promised that she could sing her songs in the film, but Marni
Nixon was ultimately contracted to perform Eliza’s vocals.
Andrews had played the role of Eliza in the stage production of the Lerner and
Loewe musical, but she lost the role to Audrey in the film. It was perhaps no
accident that the Best Actress Oscar that year went to Julie Andrews for her
role as Mary Poppins.
Fair Lady cost $17 million to make in 1964, an astounding investment in its
day. It became Warner Brothers highest-grossing film at the time and would go
on to earn 12 Oscar nominations and win 8 Oscars. Many film historians consider
My Fair Lady to be the last great musical of Hollywood’s studio era.
would marry twice and have a son by both Mel Ferrer, the actor/director, and
Andrea Dotti, an Italian psychiatrist. She suffered 4 miscarriages during her
13-year marriage to Mel Ferrer.
her early life, Audrey’s parents would divorce and her mother took her and her
two stepbrothers to London and then to the Netherlands, where her mother was a
bona fide Dutch baroness. In 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands and the horror
of war would surround her.
danced in clandestine locations to raise money for the Dutch Resistance. One of
her stepbrothers was sent to a German labor camp, and her uncle and one of her
mother’s cousins were shot and killed for participating in the Resistance.
Germans seized food and fuel when the Netherlands was already suffering a
winter famine. Audrey would suffer malnutrition, anemia and frequent bouts of
depression. She was 10 years old when World War II started and remained fragile
her entire life as a result of her wartime experience.
believe her final act in life was her best when she was named UNICEF’s
International Goodwill Ambassador in 1988. Audrey would travel around the world
on 50+ missions to bring attention to the world’s suffering children. The sight
of children dying from hunger in distant lands was devastating; she had once
been one of those children and survived.
want people to know that the largest part of humanity is suffering,” said
Audrey. Despite being terribly ill herself, she continued to go on missions.
She would die of colon cancer in 1993, four months before her 64th birthday.
When she died, the world lost a great human being.
Willoughby said it best: “She left those who came into contact with her
better for having known her. I miss her to this day.” Amen, Bob, amen.