On May 4th, 1929, Audrey Kathleen van Heemstra Ruston was born in Brussels to her father, Joseph Hepburn-Ruston, and her mother, Ella van Heemstra.
She had two step brothers who were older named Alexander and Ian. Her father was often not home because of his work. At age five, Audrey ‘s mother sent her to boarding school in England. A year later, Audrey’s father walked out of the family without telling anyone where he was going. He eventually settled in England.
In 1938, Audrey’s parents divorce; her father was given visitation rights but he often failed to exercise them. In 1939, right when the war started, Audrey’s mother wrongly considered Holland safer than England. She sent Audrey there to live with a family in Arnhem. In May of 1940, German troops take over Arnhem. Due to her English citizenship, Ella asked Audrey not to speak English in public.
At this time in England, Joseph Ruston is among the hundreds of fascists imprisoned without trial. As time goes on, the Nazis power grows. Alexander goes to work in a labor camp. Ian is sent to work fourteen hours a day in a factory in Berlin, where he supposable died. Audrey and her mother were then all alone, but are taken in by their grandfather in Velp. Despite all the horrors going on around her, Audrey throws herself into her dance.
She was picked for a series of “blackout performances,” which were secret fundraisers for the Resistance. She also acted as a secret messenger, carrying messages stuffed in her shoes. As Audrey got better at dancing, she began to instruct the younger students. This earned her family money. The battle of Arnhem began on September 17th, 1944. The Germans order for everybody to get out or get shot.
There was nothing to eat, so not many people made the move. Holland is liberated on May 4th, Audrey’s 16th birthday. She is five-foot-six and weighs 90 pounds. She had asthma, jaundice, anemia and edema because of mal-nutrition. Ian soon is on their doorstep, after he walked most of the way from Berlin.
Audrey always said they lost everything, but they didn’t even care. Her family was together again. Audrey and her mother move to Amsterdam to work on her career. Audrey began working with Sonia Gaskell, who was one of the best ballerinas in the area. She couldn’t pay for lessons, but Sonia gave her a scholarship because she saw Audrey’s talent and determination.
Audrey also found a talent for modeling after she met a photographer. Audrey visits London to audition for the Marie Lambert ballet school. She got a scholarship. Back in the Netherlands, Audrey auditions for Dutch at the Double and was given a very small role. Despite Audrey being very talented with her dancing, her limitations (her height and lack of training,) became more and more problematic. She realizes that her future is not going to be in ballet, so she begins to focus more on acting.
She is then in many movies and plays, and getting better and better parts. Her big break was in 1953 for the film “Roman Holiday.” Her “look” became very popular all over and was in many fashion magazines. Audrey falls in love with the film director of the movie, Mel Ferrer, who was 12 years older than her. They soon get married. She wins an Academy Award for Roman Holiday.
Audrey’s next big movie, possibly the highlight of her career, was the 1960 production of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” It took place in New York and Hollywood. It actually wasn’t the most successful movie at the time, but it got more and more popular as the years went on. Also in 1960, Audrey gives birth to her first child, Sean Ferrer. Audrey and Sean began to have problems, so in 1968 they divorced. The year after, Audrey remarries Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti, whom she met on a cruise the previous year.
She is soon pregnant with her second child. Audrey decides to take a brief ‘retirement’ after her child is born. She is eventually brought out of it, and does more and more movies. None ever matched the success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Dotti and Audrey divorce in 1980.
After that, she becomes the UNICEF ambassador. She traveled to Africa frequently and raised a lot of money. In 1992, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had a few surgeries, but in the end, cancer won. She died in 1993 at the age 63. Audrey Hepburn was one of the most inspirational actresses ever.
She is my role model.