“Ah, that unique lady. She’s the original, and there are no more examples, and there never will be.” -Billy Wilder
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m irrevocably in love with Audrey Hepburn. She is one of the most important women in my life, and I never once met her, never even knew of her existence until I was much older. When I think of Audrey, all my worries and anxieties are banished. Each new photograph fills me with joy. She is family. She’s someone I could imagine giving me advice, comforting me, and encouraging me to soar to heights I’d never dream possible. I think a lot about what Audrey would do if she was still alive today. She would continue to advocate for children of the world through UNICEF. How the tragedies of Syria, Yemen, and the South Sudan would weigh on her heart. I think of the impassioned speeches she would give to world leaders and politicians. She might even have befriended Pope Francis, who understands the thirst for justice and peace just as vividly as she did. A world with Audrey is a better one.
I’m not the same person I was when I first discovered Audrey at age 17. But she’s the one constant in my life. I’ve had nearly ten years with her, and no matter who else comes into my life, who makes me pause by the light of a movie screen, she remains number one. She’s taught me to love myself. I truly think the only reason I embrace my big nose and crooked teeth is because Audrey had them as well.
I couldn’t think of anything truly special for today, her birthday, my favorite day in the world, other than writing about what she means to me. I hope we have many more years together.
But I’d also like to use this post to highlight Rare Audrey Hepburn, one of the best sites devoted to Audrey’s life and legacy. Founder Meghan is raising money to compile all of the rare and unpublished Audrey photos into a book, which I can never have enough of! Please consider making a donation here.
Here are some of my favorite quotes about Audrey, from the people who loved her best: her family, including other quotes by her friends and costars.
“I remember seeing a photo of her jumping on a trampoline—I believe this was before I understood that she was famous. But I remember thinking that she looked like a friend I wish I could have had.” -Emma Ferrer, Audrey’s granddaughter (interview)
“Some people think of Audrey as regal. I like to think of her as spunky.” -Gregory Peck
“When she began Roman Holiday, it was like a flower suddenly come to bloom and we watched in amazement. She was born to play this princess.” -Gregory Peck
“The first time I saw Audrey Hepburn was in Roman Holiday. There have only been a few firsts which have rattled me so much.” -Stanley Donen
“She was always a little bit surprised by the efforts women made to look young. She was actually very happy about growing older because it meant more time for herself, more time for her family, and separation from the frenzy of youth and beauty that is Hollywood.” -Luca Dotti
“Right after the war broke out gardening for pleasure was out of the question, and later on in the Winter of Hunger (when supply lines to Holland were cut off), there was no food. On May 5th, 1945, Holland was liberated – one day after my mother’s birthday, so really, after the most terrible winter of her life, the liberation came with the spring, and with spring came food.” –Luca Dotti
“I wouldn’t say the images are untrue, but some of them don’t truly represent who she was. A concrete example would be her image from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which is the one that mostly appears in the media and at the same time, it is the one which is most farther away from who my mother was. Sometimes she was a little worried because the media would heavily promote this image from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with the little black dress and the big sunglasses… Practically, it was the only case when she played such a different character. But in the rest of the time, her image was her very true persona. She used to say that the public is not stupid, that people are very clever and you cannot lie to them. They always saw my mother for who she was. She wasn’t an angel, she wasn’t a saint, she wasn’t perfect at all. But she was a very warm and real person.” -Luca Dotti
“She was an enchantress, inspiring love and beauty. And fairies never disappear altogether.” -Hubert de Givenchy
“I couldn’t quite fathom that she was real. There were so many paradoxes in that face. Darkness and purity; depth and youth; stillness and animation. She had a fresh new look, a beauty that was ethereal.” -Anthony Beaucamp
“She seemed to have a line drawn about her, as only children have. Whatever she did, she stood out.” -Anita Loos
“A rare human being, whom I respected and loved.” -Bob Willoughby
“I am, and forever will be, devastated by the gift of Audrey Hepburn before my camera… I cannot lift her to greater heights. She is already there. I can only record, I cannot interpret her. There is no going further than who she was…She has achieved in herself her ultimate portrait.” -Richard Avedon
“Nobody ever looked like her before World War II; it is doubtful if anybody ever did, unless it be those wild children of the French Revolution who stride in the foreground of romantic canvases…
Audrey Hepburn has enormous heron’s eyes and dark eyebrows slanted towards the Far East. Her facial features show character rather than prettiness: the bridge of the nose seems almost too narrow to carry its length, which flares into a globular tip with nostrils startlingly like a duck’s bill. Her mouth is wide, with a cleft under the lower lip too deep for classical beauty, and the delicate chin appears even smaller by contrast with the exaggerated width of her jaw bones. Seen at the full, the outline of her face is perhaps too square; yet she intuitively tilts her head with a restless and perky asymmetry. She is like a portrait by Modigliani where the various distortions are not only interesting in themselves but make a completely satisfying composite.” -Cecil Beaton
“All I want for Christmas is another picture with Audrey Hepburn.”
“…you, star-bright you, would have shone the brightest.” (+)
“What you saw and felt when you watched her on the big screen was not only the clever presentation of characters brilliantly written, directed, shot, and edited into a performance, but a clear view of a truly magical human being who deserves the warm feelings that still transport audiences worldwide today.” -Sean Hepburn Ferrer
“She was the dream you remember when you wake up smiling.” -Richard Dreyfuss
Happy birthday, Audrey!