This post’s subject line is a quote by Richard Dreyfus, who worked with Audrey Hepburn on her last film, Always. He adored her. Everyone did, really. I certainly do! I’ve been horribly remiss, not posting anything about her here yet. I love her more than any other actress.
There are so many things to love about Audrey. Her unique beauty, for one. As her character in Love in the Afternoon says, “I’m too thin, and my ears stick out, and my teeth are crooked and my neck is much too long.” To which Gary Cooper’s playboy replies, “Maybe so, but I love the way it all hangs together.” Me too.
Her style is timeless — the little black dresses, brightly colored sleeveless shifts, capri pants and bracelet-sleeved nubby-wool suits are still influential and loved today. Her name has become an adjective — something simple, elegant and très chic is “very Audrey.”
And of course I adore the many great films she starred in, among them Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, My Fair Lady and Two for the Road. She was a wonderful actress, with such vulnerability, impishness, intelligence and kindness all showing through those beautiful, expressive eyes.
My favorite thing about her, however, is the sort of person she was in real life. She was by all accounts a kind, warm, lovely person – the “not a mean bone in her body” type. She came from nobility (her mother was a baroness), but was never haughty or superior.
She knew what it was to suffer, having spent the war in Holland during Nazi occupation, nearly starving to death when there was nothing to eat for months but tulip bulbs and grass. She worked for the Resistance as a young teenager, dancing in secret basement shows to raise money for the cause, and running notes hidden in her shoes past Nazi soldiers, nearly getting caught at least once.
During her movie career she charmed everyone she worked with, from her leading men to the crewmembers. She was generous, gentle, funny, and kind, but at the same time she never gave too much of herself away. She had those old-fashioned manners that said talking about yourself too much was not done. She was humble and decorous. She didn’t blabber on to the press about her daddy issues (though she had them) or her marriage to the difficult Mel Ferrer. She didn’t take drugs like poor Marilyn Monroe, or marry seven or eight times like Elizabeth Taylor. She was a lady, in the truest sense of the word.
When she was older and enjoying her life out of the limelight with companion Rob Wolders, she forced herself out of her natural shyness and diffidence to become probably the most effective ambassador UNICEF has ever had, visiting starving children around the world and becoming one of their most vocal advocates. Even when she was in pain and dying of cancer, she worked for those children.
I’ve read a lot of books about Audrey Hepburn, and there are very few negative things to say about her and so many positive things to say. The worst a co-worker ever said about her (grouchy old Humphrey Bogart) was that she was too much of a perfectionist, “like all those ballet dames.” Everybody loved her. I wish I had even a fraction of her ladylike strength, grace, and character.
My favorite quote about her comes from Billy Wilder, who directed her in Sabrina and Love in the Afternoon. He said this in an interview sometime after her death, and could hardly get the words out without crying.
Audrey was known for something which has disappeared, and that is elegance, grace and manners…God kissed her on the cheek, and there she was.