Audrey Hepburn grew up in Holland during World War II and began life with great uncertainty—not knowing when she would see her estranged father, where her next meal would come from, or even whether she would survive the war. Dance was her refuge and it brought her to the movies, where she quickly rose to stardom. After small roles in a few British features, she found herself cast opposite Gregory Peck in Roman-Holiday (1953) and helped to make the film a critical and commercial triumph. At just twenty-four, Audrey won an Academy Award, followed later that year by a Tony for her Broadway role in Ondine. A string of romantic comedies followed—Sabrina (1954), Funny Face (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960—and the fans’ romance with Audrey continued as well. Both men and women were drawn to this slender, doe-eyed beauty, so different from the blonde bombshells of the day. Yet she was also attracted to films that explored life’s hidden dramas. The Nun’s Story (1959), The Children’s Hour (1962), and Wait Until Dark (1967) expanded on her ingénue image. In pictures like Love in the Afternoon (1957) and Two for the Road (1967), she took a fresh approach to contemporary female characters, which may have been closer to her own life. She struggled to balance career and family, while also dealing with men who resisted becoming “Mr. Audrey Hepburn.” Audrey tried twice to retire from the screen, but each time she attempted to focus on her private life, she found herself wooed back by an admiring director. One such director, Richard Lester, brought her back after nine years to costar with Sean Connery in Robin and Marian (1976), while Steven Spielberg coaxed her back for her last film, Always (1989). Yet her true passions seemed to lie outside conventional marriage and Hollywood. Domestic contentment came with her last partner, fellow Dutch actor Robert Wolders, and true fulfillment arrived when she signed on as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Her own war-torn childhood was never far from her mind, prompting a serious commitment to the starving children of the world. Audrey Hepburn truly knew what mattered most, and when this very private woman bravely used her fame to mother the world, she stole our hearts all over again.
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