Published on July 1, 2016
Audrey Hepburn (/ˈɔːdri ˈhɛpˌbɜːrn/; born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; 4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress. Recognised as a film and fashion icon, Hepburn was active during Hollywood’s Golden Age. She was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood and was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. Born in Ixelles, a district of Brussels, Hepburn spent her childhood between Belgium, England and the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, she studied ballet with Sonia Gaskell before moving to London in 1948, continuing her ballet training with Marie Rambert, and then performing as a chorus girl in West End musical theatre productions.
Following minor appearances in several films, Hepburn starred in the 1951 Broadway play Gigi after being spotted by French novelist Colette, on whose work the play was based. She shot to stardom for playing the lead role in Roman Holiday (1953), for which she was the first actress to win an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for a single performance. The same year Hepburn won a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her performance in Ondine. She went on to star in a number of successful films, such as Sabrina (1954), The Nun’s Story (1959), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Charade (1963), My Fair Lady (1964) and Wait Until Dark (1967), for which she received Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. Hepburn won a record three BAFTA Awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role. In recognition of her film career, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from BAFTA, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award and the Special Tony Award. She remains one of the few people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.
Hepburn appeared in fewer films as her life went on, devoting much of her later life to UNICEF. She had contributed to the organisation since 1954, then worked in some of the poorest communities of Africa, South America and Asia between 1988 and 1992. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in December 1992. A month later, Hepburn died of appendiceal cancer at her home in Switzerland at the age of 63.