Biography of Audrey Hepburn
“What is needed in order to really become a star is an extra element which God gives you or doesn’t give you. You’re born with it. You cannot learn it. God kissed Audrey Hepburn on the cheek and there she was” (Harris 11). Seen as an angel by all those who adored her, Audrey Hepburn portrayed the true image of a Hollywood star. Her grace and elegance touched all those whom she met and her death brought sorrow to millions. Living her life as a princess, Audrey had everything she had ever dreamed of. But her journey to such an end was not easy. Living through the devastation of World War II was only one of the many struggles and triumphs Audrey had to face throughout her life. These events, which may have discouraged others, only added to the strength that emanated from her throughout her career.
Born in Brussels, on May 4, 1929, to Baroness Ella van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston and Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, Audrey Kathleen van Heemstra Ruston encountered her first trial of life only twenty-one days after her birth (Paris 6). After contracting whooping cough the disease became so serious that Audrey stopped breathing. If it had not have been for the quick thinking of her mother and a slight spanking to start her breathing, Audrey would not have survived (Paris 7). “There was no giving up on this baby,” said her son, Sean, in later years, “I think that had an effect on her whole life, [as if she’d been given] a second chance” (Paris 7).
As she grew older Audrey traveled constantly between London and Brussels, and Arnhem and The Hague (Paris 7). Her brothers, Alexander and Ian, lived mainly with Ella’s parents. Audrey’s family finally settled when she was two; Ella had grown tired of the situation and moved the entire family from Brussels to Castel Sainte-Cecile, a small estate near Linkebeek (Paris 7).
At the age of five, Audrey’s mother sent her to a boarding school in England. As much as she disliked being away from her family, Audrey soon realized that it was a “good lesson in independence” (Paris 8). Although it may have been a good lesson, Audrey soon became shy and withdrawn. She failed to make any friends and could usually be found in the garden, hiding underneath a tree or bush (Harris 21). To make matters worse, Audrey’s parents were in the process of getting a divorce. She once said of the incident, “The most traumatic event in my life was when my father left my mother” (Harris 19).
In the middle of the court proceedings, Audrey’s mother moved to London to be close to her daughter. There was an immediate change in Audrey’s personality. She soon became more open and made many friends, and she even made the honor roll (Harris 22). It was around this time that Audrey took up ballet, a passion that would consume her over up to the start of her film career.
By the time Audrey was ten the tensions with Germany, Italy, and Japan in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia threatened to...