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Audrey Hepburn Essay

1772 words - 7 pages

Edda Van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston, more commonly known by the pseudonym Audrey Hepburn, was a remarkable 20th century actress who has entranced a seemingly timeless audience. Hepburn was not just known for her success in movies, but also for her overall poise, fashion influence and humanitarian work. Unlike the typical Hollywood stereotype, Hepburn redefined standards and allowed for her elegance to show through and inspire women. To fully grasp Audrey Hepburn’s monumental impact on the 20th century and beyond, understanding her background, major works, and life beyond acting is integral.
Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium (“Audrey Hepburn” 1). She was born to a British man Joseph Victory Anthony Hepburn-Ruston and a Dutch baroness named Ella van Heemstra, although her father left when she was around six years old (Flonder 46). Her father’s departure during wartimes caused her mother to send Hepburn to live with relatives for the time being, eventually with her mother following, in the Germanic state of Holland where she experienced arduous times because of Nazi occupation (“Audrey Hepburn” 1). Hepburn witnessed horrifying things at a very young age and faced malnourishment, which led to anemia (Flonder 46). All the food she could muster at times was dug up tulip bulbs; she even went as far as to try to make bread from grass out of desperation (Keogh 238). Notably, she also delivered messages that she hid in her ballet shoes to members of the Resistance, which was a highly dangerous task especially for such a little girl (“Audrey Hepburn” 1). When World War II finally ended, Hepburn’s mother moved with her to England (“Audrey Hepburn” 1). Hepburn had taken and enjoyed a couple ballet classes before the war began so as soon she arrived in England, she started at London’s Ballet Rambert (Flonder 46). The war left her and her mother with very little resources so while taking intensive ballet classes, Hepburn also worked at upper-class night clubs as a dancer and a couple modeling jobs in order to help make ends meet (Flonder 46). She then was cast in multiple dance productions, which led to a couple small acting parts (Flonder 46). This is when she began to create her persona as Audrey Hepburn instead of Edda, just a young war-torn child. The tragedy of Hepburn’s childhood had a profound effect on the rest of her life, allowing her to always be in touch with the less fortunate and learning not to take life for granted.
Being a ballerina was actually Hepburn’s original passion and goal. The world of ballet is intensely cutthroat and eventually Hepburn was told by teachers should would never be a prima ballerina (Keoge 238). Although extremely disappointed, ballet’s rigorousness and discipline was essential to Hepburn’s famous poise (Keoge 238). Despite not making it in the ballet world, fate worked out well for Hepburn in other ways (“Forever Audrey” 142). She had done a few small roles in films, but actually got her big...

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