The Return Of Audrey Hepburn

No. 17: "I Could Have Danced All Night" from "My Fair Lady" (1964) starring Audrey Hepburn (but sung by Marni Nixon) AP

Say the name Audrey Hepburn, and even now — 45 years after the movie came out — it's impossible not to think of "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Lately, Hepburn, or somebody trying to look like her, seems to be everywhere. She even made a Halloween appearance on the CBS sitcom "The Class."

And twenty-somethings, whose grandparents went to see Hepburn in "Funny Face" when it came out in 1957, saw Hepburn this fall, jumping out of the film into a Gap ad.

"I think she's totally timeless, and at the same time very timely, with what's going on right now in fashion," Trey Laird, creative director of the Gap who thought of the Hepburn ad, told Sunday Morning correspondent Martha Teichner. "Her voice, her movement, her eyes, her smile, her style ... everything about her is so unique."

She never considered herself even pretty, nor a good actress, she told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith in 1991.

"I find it very hard to look at myself, and I think I fall short of what my performance should have been, but as time goes by, I'm becoming much nicer to myself," she said then.

Hepburn was flat-chested, tall and long-necked in an era when leading ladies tended to look like Marilyn Monroe. She was an unlikely star.

"Isn't that the way every Cinderella story begins?" her son Sean Hepburn Ferrer said. "I mean, she sees herself as the ugly duckling. She's different from everybody else. She's not sexy. She's not voluptuous. She didn't have the proper training [and] lost everything."

Audrey Ruston was born in 1929, the daughter of Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch baroness, and Joseph Hepburn-Ruston, a good-looking British ne'er-do-well, who sympathized with the Nazis and walked out on his family when Hepburn was six.

"What kind of yearning does that create? What kind of desire, need, hole that can never be filled?" Ferrer said. "Everything has an impact."

Arnhem, the Dutch town where Hepburn and her mother lived, was the site of one of the biggest and bloodiest battles in World War II. In the aftermath, they nearly starved to death.

"Pretty soon they were eating (tulip) bulbs and bread was made with peas, so it was green, and they were eating dog cookies," Ferrer said.

When food finally arrived, it came from the United Nations agency that was the forerunner to UNICEF, a favor Hepburn would return one day as spokeswoman.

Hepburn wanted more than anything to be a ballerina, but she was too tall, too old, and too malnourished to make up for the years she had lost to the war. She did manage to dance, but as a chorus girl in London cabaret shows.
  • Caitlin Johnson

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