41 Elegant Facts About Audrey Hepburn

Stephanie Kelsey

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.”

There’s no doubt that Audrey Hepburn was incredibly talented and beautiful, and had some pretty awesome quotes that still live on today (we could write an article just based on her wise words!).  But there was so much more to her than met the eye, like her not-so usual pet fawn, her humbling UNICEF work, and her experiences during World War II. Take a look!

41. Water Woes

Audrey Hepburn was terrified of water and drowning. During the filming for Two for the Road, she had a scene where she was thrown into a pool, and was so scared that crew members had to be in the pool, off camera, ready to grab her if anything went wrong. Poor Audrey!


40. Horse Horror

She also became terrified of horses after an unfortunate incident during the filming of Unforgiven. The horse threw her, causing her to break her back. She would never ride again after that incident.

39. She Would Have Loved Netflix

She wasn’t a big fan of going out and spending time with people, and considered herself an introvert. “I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” Us too, Audrey, us too.

38. Award-Winning

Hepburn is part of an exclusive club. She has won four major awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. That’s right, she’s an EGOT winner.

37. Blue for the Win

Her son, Luca Dotti, once told Vanity Fair that her favorite color was cyan, not white (which was widely believed to be the case).

36. Open Wide!

Could you imagine going to the dentist, and Hepburn was the one cleaning your teeth? Well, it almost was a thing. Before becoming an actress, she had trained to become a dental assistant. A talent scout discovered her, giving Hepburn her big break in the Broadway play Gigi.

35. When War Strikes

It’s a crazy thing to think about, but Hepburn and her family survived a German occupation of their town during World War II. The Nazis rounded up anyone who was suspected of being part of the resistance against Adolf Hitler and killed them. Among those killed were some of Hepburn’s own relatives.

34. What’s in a Name?

Audrey Hepburn isn’t actually her real name. She was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929. In 1940, she started to go by Edda van Heemstra, as having an English sounding name was  dangerous during the war.

33. Survival

During the German occupation, food was scarce in the village and no one was able to come and go as they pleased. Her own family were forced to ground up tulip bulbs for food, and tried baking grass into bread. Hepburn suffered from malnourishment, acute anemia, and respiratory issues during the war, leading to many heath problems in the years to come.

32. Dancing Dreams

Hepburn started ballet at a young age, and hoped to become a prima ballerina. She would later study in London, but was considered too tall (she was 5’7”). Also, because of her malnourishment during the War, she became too ill to continue her training, and would have to leave ballet behind. She once said, “There is probably nothing in the world as determined as a child with a dream and I wanted to dance more than I feared the Germans.”

31. Life Works in Mysterious Ways

When she was 16, Hepburn was a volunteer nurse in a Dutch hospital during the War. In an interesting twist, she helped to nurse a young British paratrooper named Terence Young back to health. He would go on to become a director, and would even later direct Hepburn in Wait Until Dark.

30. All Families Have Their Secrets

UNICEF honored Hepburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in December, 1992 because of all of her work on their behalf, though she was too ill to accept it in person. Hepburn once said, “the ‘Third World’ is a term I don’t like very much, because we’re all one world. I want people to know that the largest part of humanity is suffering.”

29. Two Girls, Two Lives, One Painful Past

Hepburn was born just a month before Anne Frank, and Hepburn felt a connection to the young girl. “I was given [The Diary of Anne Frank] in Dutch, in galley form, in 1946 by a friend,” she said. “It destroyed me. It does this to many people when they first read it but I was not reading it as a book, as printed pages. This was my life.”

28. A Role Too Difficult

Hepburn was even offered a role in the 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank, but turned it down because she felt that it would be too hard and would bring back too many difficult emotions and memories.

27. Motherhood Called to Her

Hepburn longed to be a mother, but would suffer five miscarriages in her attempts. Her lack of body fat and her high stress levels were often to blame for the miscarriages, but she did eventually have two sons, Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

26. If Only She Saw How Beautiful She Was

Dotti once told Vanity Fair that his mother didn’t believe herself to be beautiful. He told them, “she thought she had a big nose and big feet, and she was too skinny and not enough breast.” Beauty comes in all forms, both inside and out, and we think Hepburn was absolutely one of the most beautiful women around, no matter how she thought of herself!

25. Humble Hepburn

In addition to her not thinking herself beautiful, she didn’t really see herself as a style icon either. Many people wanted to emulate her look though–from her hair, to her dresses, to her oversized sunglasses. And they could! As she said, “My appearance is accessible to everyone. With hair tied in a bun, big sunglasses and black dress, every woman can look like me.”

24. No Foot Fetish Here

Hepburn’s feet were slightly, larger than average, and she even bought her ballet slippers a half size bigger, in a 10 ½, so that she didn’t feel like her feet looked squished. She also didn’t like to wear heels because she thought they made her too tall.

23. The Perfect Lash

After applying three coats of mascara, her makeup artist would separate her eyelashes with a pin. Yup, you read that right. We wonder how long that would have taken?

22. Friendship Made in Mix-Up

Hepburn became great friends with French designer Hubert de Givenchy. During their first meeting, when Hepburn was looking for dresses for Sabrina, Givenchy mistakenly thought Katharine Hepburn was coming in. He was slightly disappointed when Audrey showed up, but the pair hit it off.

21. *The* Diamond

Hepburn is only one of two women lucky enough to have worn the Tiffany Diamond; she wore it on a necklace for the famous promotional shots for Breakfast at Tiffany‘s. The necklace had diamond ribbons surrounding the Tiffany Diamond, and was designed by Jean Schlumberger.

20. Pearls, Please!

Diamonds were not this girl’s best friend–pearls were! Her favorite piece was a pearl necklace given to her by husband Mel Ferrer.

19. Humanitarian

Hepburn was a big supporter of UNICEF, especially because of how much the organization helped her and her family after World War II. As she said, “I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II. I have a long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does.” She became a  ambassador for the organization in 1988, and donated the full salaries from her last three projects (Love Among Thieves, Always and Gardens of the World) to the organization.

18. It Never Goes out of Style

That famous “little black dress” Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s sold for over $900,000 at auction in 2006.

17. Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number

Hepburn starred in some of the greatest movies of her time, more often than not with leading men who were quite a bit older. A few, for example: Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina was 29 years older than Hepburn, Fred Astaire in Funny Face was also 29 years older, and Cary Grant in Charade was 25 years older.

16. Smell Like Audrey

Givenchy created a perfume specifically for Hepburn in the 1950s. After a couple years, it was also available to the public. L’interdit (which translates to “forbidden”) has notes of rose, jasmine and violet, and it also blends woodsy and grassy scents.

15. Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

Hepburn has also had three different flowers named after her. Breeds of daylilies, tulips, and roses are the lucky flowers.

14. Two Green Thumbs

It only makes sense that she had flowers named after her–she loved gardening! During her later years in life, she even hosted a show on PBS called Gardens of the World. “To grow a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” she’s known to have said.

13. Streets Ahead

She also was gifted with the name of a street in Holland, Audrey Hepburnlaan, in 1959.

12. Princess Audrey, er, Aurora

Who can say they have a Disney Princess created in their likeness? Hepburn can. Aurora, more commonly known as Sleeping Beauty, was modeled after Hepburn.

11. Oh You Know, Just Taking Her Fawn for a Walk, as One Does

Most people have dogs or cats, maybe even bunnies for pets. But not Hepburn. She had a pet fawn named Pippin. The baby deer was part of her movie Green Mansions. The film’s animal trainer suggested she take the fawn home so he could get used to her. Hepburn ended up falling in love with him, and would adopt the baby deer once the filming was over.

10. Sing Us a Song

She was required to sing for her role in My Fair Lady. Unfortunately, the powers that be didn’t believe her singing voice was all that powerful, and replaced her vocals with those of Marion Nixon. When Hepburn found out, she stormed off the set. She would return the next day, apologetic for her “wicked behavior.”

9. Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Someone must have liked her singing voice, because in 1963 during a private function, Hepburn sang “Happy Birthday” to none other than John F. Kennedy. This was one year after Monroe did her famous rendition for the President.

8. First Lady Audrey?

Hepburn actually dated Kennedy while he was still a Senator! She was devastated when she heard the news of his assassination, and was the one who told the cast of My Fair Lady, which she was filming at the time. Before leaving the set to cry, she asked all those around to pray for him.

7. Affairs of the Heart

She also had a love affair with William Holden during and after the filming of Sabrina. Though he was married, the pair found their way to each other. Despite Hepburn’s desire for children, Holden secretly had a vasectomy. When he told her what he had done, she was heartbroken.

6. Like a Chimney

We all know smoking was a pretty popular thing amongst movie stars around Hepburn’s time, but did you know she was known to smoke upwards of three packs a day? Yeah, we thought that was a little gross too.

5. No Thank You

Hepburn decided to take a hiatus from acting in 1967 so that she could raise her sons. After this time, she was offered roles in a number of films, including Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Nicholas and Alexandra, The Exorcist, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She turned them all down.

4. End of an Era

Following a battle with appendicular cancer, Hepburn passed away on January 20, 1993 when she was just 63 years old. She had only been diagnosed in November, 1992.

3. Put a Stamp on It

In 2003, the US Postal Service honored Hepburn’s work as a humanitarian and Hollywood actress with a commemorative 37 cent stamp.

2. Holly Go-Monroe?

The role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was originally meant for Marilyn Monroe.

1. Family Secrets

Hepburn was praised for her courage during the Nazi regime, but all the while her agents desperately tried to cover up the fact that she actually had ties, through her parents, to the Nazis. Her mother and father were Fascist sympathizers, and recruited donations for the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.

Sources: 12345, 6, 7, 8

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