|170 cm (5′ 7”)
| May 4,
|Jan 20, 1993 (age 63)
|Arnoud Robert Alexander Quarles van Ufford
|Ian Edgar Bruce Quarles van Ufford
|Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston
|$1 Million – $2 Million (Approx.)
|Emma Kathleen Ferrer
|Victor John George Ruston
|Aarnoud van Heemstra
|Ella van Heemstra
|$1 Million – $2 Million (Approx.)
|$1 Million – $2 Million (Approx.)
|Celebrity Family Member
Sean Hepburn Ferrer
|$4 Million (Approx.)
Does Audrey Hepburn Dead or Alive?
As per our current Database, Audrey Hepburn died on Jan 20, 1993 (age 63).
|170 cm (5′ 7”)
She was poised to become an outstanding ballerina when her acting career took off.
Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston or, later, Hepburn-Ruston on 4 May 1929 at number 48 Rue Keyenveld in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. She was known to her family as Adriaantje.
In the mid-1930s, Hepburn’s parents recruited and collected donations for the British Union of Fascists. Joseph left the family abruptly in 1935 after a “scene” in Brussels when Adriaantje (as she was known in the family) was six; later she often spoke of the effect on a child of being “dumped” as “children need two parents”. Joseph moved to London, where he became more deeply involved in Fascist activity and never visited his daughter abroad. Hepburn later professed that her father’s departure was “the most traumatic event of my life”.
That same year, her mother moved with Hepburn to her family’s estate in Arnhem; her half-brothers Alex and Ian (then 15 and 11) were sent to The Hague to live with relatives. Joseph wanted her to be educated in England, so in 1937, Hepburn was sent to live in Kent, England, where she, known as Audrey Ruston or “Little Audrey”, was educated at a small independent school in Elham.
Hepburn’s parents officially divorced in June 1939. In the 1960s, Hepburn renewed contact with her father after locating him in Dublin through the Red Cross; although he remained emotionally detached, Hepburn supported him financially until his death.
After Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, Hepburn’s mother moved her daughter back to Arnhem in the hope that, as during the First World War, the Netherlands would remain neutral and be spared a German attack. While there, Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945. She had begun taking ballet lessons during her last years at boarding school, and continued training in Arnhem under the tutelage of Winja Marova, becoming her “star pupil”. After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Hepburn used the name Edda van Heemstra, because an “English-sounding” name was considered dangerous during the German occupation. Her family was profoundly affected by the occupation, with Hepburn later stating that “had we known that we were going to be occupied for five years, we might have all shot ourselves. We thought it might be over next week… six months… next year… that’s how we got through”. In 1942, her uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum (husband of her mother’s older sister, Miesje), was executed in retaliation for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement; while he had not been involved in the act, he was targeted due to his family’s prominence in Dutch society. Hepburn’s half-brother Ian was deported to Berlin to work in a German labour camp, and her other half-brother Alex went into hiding to avoid the same fate.
After the war ended in 1945, Hepburn moved with her mother and siblings to Amsterdam, where she began ballet training under Sonia Gaskell, a leading figure in Dutch ballet, and Russian teacher Olga Tarasova.
Hepburn was then offered a small role in a film being shot in both English and French, Monte Carlo Baby (French: Nous Irons à Monte Carlo, 1952), which was filmed in Monte Carlo. Coincidentally, French novelist Colette was at the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo during the filming, and decided to cast Hepburn in the title role in the Broadway play Gigi. Hepburn went into rehearsals having never spoken on stage, and required private coaching. When Gigi opened at the Fulton Theatre on 24 November 1951, she received praise for her performance, despite criticism that the stage version was inferior to the French film adaptation. Life called her a “hit”, while The New York Times stated that “her quality is so winning and so right that she is the success of the evening”. Hepburn also received a Theatre World Award for the role. The play ran for 219 performances, closing on 31 May 1952, before going on tour which began 13 October 1952 in Pittsburgh and visited Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D. C., and Los Angeles, before closing on 16 May 1953 in San Francisco.
In 1952, Hepburn became engaged to James Hanson, whom she had known since her early days in London. She called it “love at first sight”, but after having her wedding dress fitted and the date set, she decided the marriage would not work because the demands of their careers would keep them apart most of the time. She issued a public statement about her decision, saying “When I get married, I want to be really married”. In the early 1950s, she also dated future Hair producer Michael Butler.
The film was a box-office success, and Hepburn gained critical acclaim for her portrayal, unexpectedly winning an Academy Award for Best Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best British Actress in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama in 1953. In his review in The New York Times, A. H. Weiler wrote: “Although she is not precisely a newcomer to films, Audrey Hepburn, the British actress who is being starred for the first time as Princess Anne, is a slender, elfin, and wistful beauty, alternately regal and childlike in her profound appreciation of newly-found, simple pleasures and love. Although she bravely smiles her acknowledgement of the end of that affair, she remains a pitifully lonely figure facing a stuffy future.”
Hepburn was signed to a seven-picture contract with Paramount, with 12 months in between films to allow her time for stage work. She was featured on 7 September 1953 cover of Time magazine, and also became known for her personal style.
Hepburn also returned to the stage in 1954, playing a water nymph who falls in love with a human in the fantasy play Ondine on Broadway. A critic for The New York Times commented that “somehow, Miss Hepburn is able to translate [its intangibles] into the language of the theatre without artfulness or precociousness. She gives a pulsing performance that is all grace and enchantment, disciplined by an instinct for the realities of the stage”. Her performance won her the 1954 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play three days after she won the Academy Award for Roman Holiday, making her one of three actresses to receive the Academy and Tony Awards for Best Actress in the same year (the other two are Shirley Booth and Ellen Burstyn). During the production, Hepburn and her co-star Mel Ferrer began a relationship, and were married on 25 September 1954 in Switzerland.
At a cocktail party hosted by mutual friend Gregory Peck, Hepburn met American actor Mel Ferrer, and suggested that they star together in a play. The meeting led them to collaborate in Ondine, during which they began a relationship. Eight months later, on 25 September 1954, they were married in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, while preparing to star together in the film War and Peace (1955).
Hepburn was known for her fashion choices and distinctive look, to the extent that journalist Mark Tungate has described her as a recognisable brand. When she first rose to stardom in Roman Holiday (1953), she was seen as an alternative feminine ideal that appealed more to women than men, in comparison to the curvy and more sexual Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. With her short hair style, thick eyebrows, slim body, and “gamine” looks, she presented a look which young women found easier to emulate than those of more sexual film stars. In 1954, fashion photographer Cecil Beaton declared Hepburn the “public embodiment of our new feminine ideal” in Vogue, and wrote that “Nobody ever looked like her before World War II … Yet we recognise the rightness of this appearance in relation to our historical needs. The proof is that thousands of imitations have appeared.” The magazine and its British version frequently reported on her style throughout the following decade. Alongside model Twiggy, Hepburn has been cited as one of the key public figures who made being very slim fashionable.
Although she appeared in no new film releases in 1955, Hepburn received the Golden Globe for World Film Favorite that year. Having become one of Hollywood’s most popular box-office attractions, she starred in a series of successful films during the remainder of the decade, including her BAFTA- and Golden Globe-nominated role as Natasha Rostova in War and Peace (1956), an adaptation of the Tolstoy novel set during the Napoleonic wars, starring Henry Fonda and her husband Mel Ferrer. She exhibited her dancing abilities in her debut musical film, Funny Face (1957), wherein Fred Astaire, a fashion photographer, discovers a beatnik bookstore clerk (Hepburn) who, lured by a free trip to Paris, becomes a beautiful model. Hepburn starred in another romantic comedy, Love in the Afternoon (also 1957), alongside Gary Cooper and Maurice Chevalier.
Hepburn had two miscarriages, one in March 1955, and another in 1959, after she fell from a horse during the filming of The Unforgiven (1960). When she became pregnant for the third time, she took a year off work to prevent another miscarriage. Their son Sean Hepburn Ferrer was born on 17 July 1960. She had two more miscarriages in 1965 and 1967.
In addition to Sabrina, Givenchy designed her costumes for Love in the Afternoon (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Funny Face (1957), Charade (1963), Paris When It Sizzles (1964), and How to Steal a Million (1966), as well as clothed her off screen. According to Moseley, fashion plays an unusually central role in many of Hepburn’s films, stating that “the costume is not tied to the character, functioning ‘silently’ in the mise-en-scène, but as ‘fashion’ becomes an attraction in the aesthetic in its own right”. Hepburn herself stated that Givenchy “gave me a look, a kind, a silhouette. He has always been the best, and he stayed the best. Because he kept the spare style that I love. What is more beautiful than a simple sheath made an extraordinary way in a special fabric, and just two earrings?” She also became the face of Givenchy’s first perfume, L’Interdit, in 1957. In addition to her partnership with Givenchy, Hepburn was credited with boosting the sales of Burberry trench coats when she wore one in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and was associated with Italian footwear brand Tod’s.
In her private life, Hepburn preferred to wear casual and comfortable clothes, contrary to the haute couture she wore on screen and at public events. Despite being admired for her beauty, she never considered herself attractive, stating in a 1959 interview that “you can even say that I hated myself at certain periods. I was too fat, or maybe too tall, or maybe just plain too ugly… you can say my definiteness stems from underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority. I couldn’t conquer these feelings by acting indecisive. I found the only way to get the better of them was by adopting a forceful, concentrated drive.” In 1989, she stated that “my look is attainable … Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large glasses and the little sleeveless dresses.”
Added to the International Best Dressed List in 1961, Hepburn was associated with a minimalistic style, usually wearing clothes with simple silhouettes which emphasised her slim body, monochromatic colours, and occasional statement accessories. In the late 1950s, Audrey Hepburn popularised plain black leggings. Academic Rachel Moseley describes the combination of “slim black trousers, flat ballet-style pumps and a fine black jersey” as one of her signature looks alongside little black dresses, noting that this style was new at the time when women still wore skirts and high heels more often than trousers and flat shoes.
Hepburn’s second film released in 1964 was George Cukor’s film adaptation of the stage musical My Fair Lady, which premiered in October. Soundstage wrote that “not since Gone with the Wind has a motion picture created such universal excitement as My Fair Lady”, although Hepburn’s casting in the role of Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle was a source of dispute. Julie Andrews, who had originated the role on stage, was not offered the part because producer Jack L. Warner thought Hepburn was a more “bankable” proposition. Hepburn initially asked Warner to give the role to Andrews but was eventually cast. Further friction was created when, although non-singer Hepburn had sung in Funny Face and had lengthy vocal preparation for the role in My Fair Lady, her vocals were dubbed by Marni Nixon, whose voice was considered more suitable to the role. Hepburn was initially upset and walked off the set when informed.
As the decade carried on, Hepburn appeared in an assortment of genres including the heist comedy How to Steal a Million (1966) where she played the daughter of a famous art collector, whose collection consists entirely of forgeries. Fearing her father’s exposure, she sets out to steal one of his “priceless” statues with the help of a man played by Peter O’Toole. It was followed by two films in 1967. The first was Two for the Road, a non-linear and innovative British dramedy that traces the course of a couple’s troubled marriage. Director Stanley Donen said that Hepburn was more free and happy than he had ever seen her, and he credited that to co-star Albert Finney. The second, Wait Until Dark, is a suspense thriller in which Hepburn demonstrated her acting range by playing the part of a terrorised blind woman. Filmed on the brink of her divorce, it was a difficult film for her, as husband Mel Ferrer was its producer. She lost fifteen pounds under the stress, but she found solace in co-star Richard Crenna and director Terence Young. Hepburn earned her fifth and final competitive Academy Award nomination for Best Actress; Bosley Crowther affirmed, “Hepburn plays the poignant role, the quickness with which she changes and the skill with which she manifests terror attract sympathy and anxiety to her and give her genuine solidity in the final scenes.”
After 1967, Hepburn chose to devote more time to her family and acted only occasionally in the following decades. She attempted a comeback playing Maid Marian in the period piece Robin and Marian (1976) with Sean Connery co-starring as Robin Hood, which was moderately successful. Roger Ebert praised Hepburn’s chemistry with Connery, writing, “Connery and Hepburn seem to have arrived at a tacit understanding between themselves about their characters. They glow. They really do seem in love. And they project as marvelously complex, fond, tender people; the passage of 20 years has given them grace and wisdom.” Hepburn reunited with director Terence Young in the production of Bloodline (1979), sharing top-billing with Ben Gazzara, James Mason, and Romy Schneider. The film, an international intrigue amid the jet-set, was a critical and box-office failure. Hepburn’s last starring role in a feature film was opposite Gazzara in the comedy They All Laughed (1981), directed by Peter Bogdanovich. The film was overshadowed by the murder of one of its stars, Dorothy Stratten, and received only a limited release. Six years later, Hepburn co-starred with Robert Wagner in a made-for-television caper film, Love Among Thieves (1987).
Despite the insistence from gossip columns that their marriage would not last, Hepburn claimed that she and Ferrer were inseparable and happy together, though she admitted that he had a bad temper. Ferrer was rumoured to be too controlling, and had been referred to by others as being her “Svengali” – an accusation that Hepburn laughed off. William Holden was quoted as saying, “I think Audrey allows Mel to think he influences her.” After a 14-year marriage, the couple divorced in 1968.
Hepburn met her second husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti, on a Mediterranean cruise with friends in June 1968. She believed she would have more children and possibly stop working. They married on 18 January 1969, and their son Luca Andrea Dotti, was born on 8 February 1970. While pregnant with Luca in 1969, Hepburn was more careful, resting for months before delivering the baby via caesarean section. She wanted to have a third child, but had another miscarriage in 1974. Dotti was unfaithful and she had a romantic relationship with actor Ben Gazzara during the filming of the movie Bloodline (1979). The Dotti-Hepburn marriage lasted thirteen years and was dissolved in 1982.
From 1980 until her death, Hepburn was in a relationship with Dutch actor Robert Wolders, the widower of actress Merle Oberon. She had met Wolders through a friend during the later years of her second marriage. In 1989, she called the nine years she had spent with him the happiest years of her life, and stated that she considered them married, just not officially.
Hepburn’s first field mission for UNICEF was to Ethiopia in 1988. She visited an orphanage in Mek’ele that housed 500 starving children and had UNICEF send food. Of the trip, she said,
In August 1988, Hepburn went to Turkey on an immunisation campaign. She called Turkey “the loveliest example” of UNICEF’s capabilities. Of the trip, she said, “The army gave us their trucks, the fishmongers gave their wagons for the vaccines, and once the date was set, it took ten days to vaccinate the whole country. Not bad.” In October, Hepburn went to South America. Of her experiences in Venezuela and Ecuador, Hepburn told the United States Congress, “I saw tiny mountain communities, slums, and shantytowns receive water systems for the first time by some miracle – and the miracle is UNICEF. I watched boys build their own schoolhouse with bricks and cement provided by UNICEF.”
In the 1950s, Hepburn narrated two radio programmes for UNICEF, re-telling children’s stories of war. In 1989, Hepburn was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. On her appointment, she stated that she was grateful for receiving international aid after enduring the German occupation as a child, and wanted to show her gratitude to the organisation.
Hepburn toured Central America in February 1989, and met with leaders in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In April, she visited Sudan with Wolders as part of a mission called “Operation Lifeline”. Because of civil war, food from aid agencies had been cut off. The mission was to ferry food to southern Sudan. Hepburn said, “I saw but one glaring truth: These are not natural disasters but man-made tragedies for which there is only one man-made solution – peace.” In October 1989, Hepburn and Wolders went to Bangladesh. John Isaac, a UN photographer, said, “Often the kids would have flies all over them, but she would just go hug them. I had never seen that. Other people had a certain amount of hesitation, but she would just grab them. Children would just come up to hold her hand, touch her – she was like the Pied Piper.”
In October 1990, Hepburn went to Vietnam, in an effort to collaborate with the government for national UNICEF-supported immunisation and clean water programmes. In September 1992, four months before she died, Hepburn went to Somalia. Calling it “apocalyptic”, she said, “I walked into a nightmare. I have seen famine in Ethiopia and Bangladesh, but I have seen nothing like this – so much worse than I could possibly have imagined. I wasn’t prepared for this.” Though scarred by what she had seen, Hepburn still had hope. “Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicisation of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanisation of politics.”
After finishing her last motion picture role—a cameo appearance as an angel in Steven Spielberg’s Always (1989)—Hepburn completed only two more entertainment-related projects, both critically acclaimed. Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn was a PBS documentary series, which was filmed on location in seven countries in the spring and summer of 1990. A one-hour special preceded it in March 1991, and the series itself began airing the day after her death, 21 January 1993. For the debut episode, Hepburn was posthumously awarded the 1993 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement – Informational Programming. The other project was a spoken word album, Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales, which features readings of classic children’s stories and was recorded in 1992. It earned her a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children.
Hepburn’s legacy has endured long after her death. The American Film Institute named Hepburn third among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. She is one of few entertainers who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards. She won a record three BAFTA Awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role. In her last years, she remained a visible presence in the film world. She received a tribute from the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 1991 and was a frequent presenter at the Academy Awards. She received the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. She was the recipient of numerous posthumous awards including the 1993 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and competitive Grammy and Emmy Awards. She has been the subject of many biographies since her death including the 2000 dramatisation of her life titled The Audrey Hepburn Story which starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and Emmy Rossum as the older and younger Hepburn respectively. In January 2009, Hepburn was named on The Times’ list of the top 10 British actresses of all time.
On the evening of 20 January 1993, Hepburn died in her sleep at home. After her death, Gregory Peck went on camera and tearfully recited her favourite poem, “Unending Love” by Rabindranath Tagore. Funeral services were held at the village church of Tolochenaz on 24 January 1993. Maurice Eindiguer, the same pastor who wed Hepburn and Mel Ferrer and baptised her son Sean in 1960, presided over her funeral, while Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan of UNICEF delivered a eulogy. Many family members and friends attended the funeral, including her sons, partner Robert Wolders, half-brother Ian Quarles van Ufford, ex-husbands Andrea Dotti and Mel Ferrer, Hubert de Givenchy, executives of UNICEF, and fellow actors Alain Delon and Roger Moore. Flower arrangements were sent to the funeral by Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, and the Dutch royal family. Later on the same day, Hepburn was interred at the Tolochenaz Cemetery.
Hepburn’s influence as a style icon continues several decades after the height of her acting career in the 1950s and 1960s. Moseley notes that especially after her death in 1993, she became increasingly admired, with magazines frequently advising readers on how to get her look and fashion designers using her as inspiration. In 2004, Hepburn was named the “most beautiful woman of all time” and “most beautiful woman of the 20th century” in polls by Evian and QVC respectively, and in 2015, was voted “the most stylish Brit of all time” in a poll commissioned by Samsung. Her film costumes fetch large sums of money in auctions: one of the “little black dresses” designed by Givenchy for Breakfast at Tiffany’s was sold by Christie’s for a record sum of £467,200 in 2006.
In 2002, at the United Nations Special Session on Children, UNICEF honoured Hepburn’s legacy of humanitarian work by unveiling a statue, “The Spirit of Audrey”, at UNICEF’s New York headquarters. Her service for children is also recognised through the United States Fund for UNICEF’s Audrey Hepburn Society.
Hepburn’s image is widely used in advertising campaigns across the world. In Japan, a series of commercials used colourised and digitally enhanced clips of Hepburn in Roman Holiday to advertise Kirin black tea. In the United States, Hepburn was featured in a 2006 Gap commercial which used clips of her dancing from Funny Face, set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, with the tagline “It’s Back – The Skinny Black Pant”. To celebrate its “Keep it Simple” campaign, the Gap made a sizeable donation to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. In 2012, Hepburn was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his best known artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires. In 2013, a computer-manipulated representation of Hepburn was used in a television advert for the British chocolate bar Galaxy. On 4 May 2014, Google featured a doodle on its homepage on what would have been Hepburn’s 85th birthday.
After her uncle’s death, Hepburn, Ella and Miesje left Arnhem to live with her grandfather, Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra, in nearby Velp. Around that time Hepburn performed silent dance performances to raise money for the Dutch resistance effort. It was long believed that she participated in the Dutch resistance itself, but in 2016 the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ reported that after extensive research it had not found any evidence of such activities. However, a 2019 book by author Robert Matzen provided evidence that she had supported the resistance by giving “underground concerts” to raise money, delivering the underground newspaper, and taking messages and food to downed Allied flyers hiding in the woodlands north of Velp. She also volunteered at a hospital that was the centre of resistance activities in Velp, and her family temporarily hid a paratrooper in their home during the Battle of Arnhem. In addition to other traumatic events, she witnessed the transportation of Dutch Jews to concentration camps, later stating that “more than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child.”
Currently, Audrey Hepburn is 92 years, 7 months and 5 days old. Audrey Hepburn will celebrate 93rd birthday on a Wednesday 4th of May 2022.
Find out about Audrey Hepburn birthday activities in timeline view here.