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Something unique happens when you start listening to the soundtrack album of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn’s iconic film. The music, before deliberately sounding jazzy, groovy and cool, suggestively resembles the sounds of a spaghetti western, as if its composer, Henry Mancini, had decided to pay homage to his admired Ennio Morricone with a desert melody, hot air and wind in the face…

But nevertheless, Audrey Hepburn, who marks the 19th anniversary of her departure today, it was not some tigress of the old west or far west. Nothing to do with a wild beast like Uma Thurman, just as Quentin Tarantino recreated the genre. Neither revenge nor duels to the death.

Audrey Hepburn, actress and eventually a very good singer, owner of a singular and feline beauty, had a life with ups and downs and planted a style that even today is impossible to clone. Its image is like that of an elegant and distinguished perfume that continues to float in the air to this day.

In Charada, with Cary Grant
In Charada, with Cary GrantCollection ChristopheL via AFP – Archivo

It is amazing that the protagonist of The princess who wanted to live I had “blue blood”, but that’s how it was. born a May 4, 1929 As Audrey Kathleen Ruston in Ixelles/Elsene, a municipality in Brussels, the actress was the only child of Englishman Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston and Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch aristocrat, descendant of King Edward III of England and of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. He was the father of the woman with the smallest and most beautiful nose in history of the cinema which added the last name of his maternal grandmother, Catherina. That’s how it came to be called Audrey Kathleen Ruston Hepburn.

But among that catlike beauty of who would be the protagonist of comedies and musicals that would animate millions of people around the world, nestled the terror of the beasts: his parents were sympathizers of Nazism (an unhappily common occurrence among the British nobility, as the film what’s left of the day).

However, little Audrey had other relatives, her mother’s cousins, who were members of the resistance and even they were shot by the Nazis. Perhaps for this reason, Hepburn felt from a very young age a special connection to the life of Anne Frank and in an interview he declared: “Anne Frank and I were ten years old when the war started and fifteen when it ended. I read your memoirs in 1947. It was a reading that destroyed me. I have not been the sameIt affected me deeply.”

Audrey Hepburn, an unforgettable face
Audrey Hepburn, an unforgettable faceGROSBY GROUP

Hepburn, despite her ancestry, also suffered miseries during the Second World War in the city of Arnhem, in the Netherlands. The memories of that time of hunger and hardship would accompany her in her adult life, also causing anorexia nervosa. With his misfortunes and everything he was able to continue perfecting his studies of classical ballet and piano. He also learned to speak English, French, Dutch, Italian, German and even Spanish.

Gigi, her first big step

While trying to land his first Hollywood roles in early 1952, he was chosen for star on broadway Tooth, the musical based on the play of the same name by the cult writer, Colette (later it would be taken to the cinema by a specialist in musicals like Vincent Minelli).

And shortly after, the big jump (and bump) came to the big screen with one of his most remembered successes: The princess who wanted to live. At last Audrey, future diva of blue blood, starred in something similar to her life: together with Gregory Peck, she played Anna, a European from the nobility nobility who I wanted to escape pompous and noble restrictions and spend a day in the romantic city of Rome.

After Breakfast at Tiffany's, the actress became an icon -and later a legend- of Hollywood
After Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the actress became an icon -and later a legend- of Hollywood

And West Side Story is the closest thing (and perfect) to an update of the Romeo and Juliet de William Shakespeare, The princess who wanted to live achieves the same from the classic prince and pauper (now in female version), by Mark Twain. This would be the film that would launch his career to stardom.

Coincidence or not, Hepburn consolidated her career and her world fame with “princess tales but in real life”. Sabrina, the fable that brings the classic to our days cinderella it was also one of his great films. Directed by the talented Billy Wilder and along with stars William Holden and Humphrey Bogart, tells the story of the chauffeur’s daughter from a rich family who eventually falls in love with the brothers her father works for.

The movie became a true classic and, therefore, in several remakes, many made in Bollywood, (the mecca of Indian commercial cinema) and perhaps the most notable of 1995, starring a Julia Ormond who had similar doses of charm, enigma and joviality.

In 1955, posing with her husband, the actor and filmmaker Mel Ferrer in Rome.
In 1955, posing with her husband, the actor and filmmaker Mel Ferrer in Rome.AFP – Archivo

From early on, Hepburn’s career, and even until her last years, was characterized by having partners who stole every sigh from the great California dream factory. Gregory Peck, in Lto princess who wanted to live, William Holden y Humphrey Bogart en Sabrina, Fred Astaire in Funny Face, Cary Grant in Charade the Rex Harrison in My lovely lady were some of them. However, she only had eyes (at least officially) for another “boyfriend of America”: Mel Ferrer.

They met on the set of the movie. Ondine, by Jean Giraudoux, from 1954. They married and had a son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, who later became a film producer. Also around this time, perhaps because of his terrible childhood, he would begin to collaborate with the UNICEF humanitarian aid agency.

The first five years of the 1960s, those in which a physical model like that of la modelo Twiggy, not so far from Hepburn’s: thinness, big eyes and long eyelashes, were her most intense years.

With Breakfast at Tiffany’s, (incredibly written by Truman Capote) The character so imitated and never equaled arrived, that of the new and modern girl who must “sell” herself in the big city. His partner was also offered to the best bidder: George Peppard (yes, Hannibal in Brigade A) it was Paul Varjak, or Fred, with whom at first he did not get along but over time he ended up forming a close friendship.

In the film, without being a musical, it happens one of the most perfect moments of the song in the seventh art: the interpretation of Hebpurn (or rather, Holly Golightly) of “Moon River” in his window with a small guitar (today they would use the much talked about ukulele). The song became an instant anthem. Fred leaned out to look at her and listen to her, visibly in love. Like anyone who sees the scene again today.

My Fair Lady, George Cukor's 1964 classic.
My Fair Lady, George Cukor’s 1964 classic.

many years later Hepburn referred to that role as “the most jazzy of my career”. And it’s true, that scene, and the entire film, transports us to an imaginary terrace in Manhattan, with a swing in the background. Its aesthetic never grew old, partly due to the charm and elegance of its protagonist.

In 1961, Hepburn starred in junto a Shirley MacLaine the calumnyDirected by William Wyler. It was one of his most complex interpretations, for addressing a love between women. The film was based on a novel by Lilian Hellman, a multiple outlaw woman during McCarthyism and the wife of writer Dashiell Hammett. My fair Lady, from 1963, based on a play by George Bernard Shaw, also became another of his most emblematic and well-remembered works.

From the 70’s the charming and “beautiful lady” progressively moved away from the cinema, but every time he did it he excelled again in “little big roles”. In Robin y Marian (1976), by Richard Lester (the director of The Beatles films), recreated with Sean Connery the myth of Robin Hood and his partner, but his youthful years of adventure had already passed.

Her eldest son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, remembering his mother's social legacy
Her eldest son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, remembering his mother’s social legacyGROSBY GROUP

Great directors kept laying their eye on Audrey as the recently deceased Peter Bogdanovich For the movie Our cheating loves (They all laughed, 1981) or Steven Spielberg who included her in Forever (1989).

Divorced from Mel Ferrer, she married Italian physician Andrea Dotti, an Italian physician with whom she had a second son, Luca. At the end of his life, he dedicated himself even more energetically and at the expense of his own health, to causes such as child malnutrition or the fight against AIDS. a few months before die at 63 years of peritoneal pseudomyxoma (a rare disease characterized by the accumulation of mucous in the peritoneal cavity), traveled to Africa as UNICEF ambassador. In the headquarters of this institution today there is a statue dedicated to his memory.


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