Audrey was born to a British Banker who then changed his surname to Hepburn, after believing he was descended from English royalty. Audrey’s mother was a dutch baroness. Due to her father’s work, they frequently travelled between many countries so she learned to speak Dutch, English, French, Spanish and Italian.Throughout her lifetime she was married to Mel Ferrer, and then Andrea Dotti and had two sons. Her last relationship was with Dutch actor, Robert Wolders.
Audrey first became famous after starring in Roman Holiday in 1953. The film received wonderful reviews and earned herself an Academy Award. This then launched her into other films such as Sabrina, Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady. In the late 60s, Audrey decided to stop acting on a regular basis and spend more time with her family.
After her children grew up, Audrey devoted the remaining period of her life to humanitarian work with UNICEF, introduced to her by Robert Wolders. Although she had done work for UNICEF in the 50s, this was a much higher level of dedication and she would be able to use her fame to further influence and inform the world about the children in need.
In the late 1980s, she became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and travelled the world to visit children in third world countries, such as visiting a polio vaccine project, training programmes for women in Venezuela, projects for children living and working on the street in Ecuador, projects to provide drinking water, nutrition projects in Vietnam and camps for displaced children in Sudan. Audrey promoted UNICEF’s work through interviews, speeches, and participating in benefit events. She also launched UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children reports, took part in the World Summit for Children and even testified before the US Congress.
As a result of her humanitarian work, she received the United States’ highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1992. During that year, though ill with cancer, she continued her work for UNICEF and eventually won a special posthumous Academy Award for her humanitarian work in 1993.
Audrey was also greatly influenced to help disadvantaged children after her father became a Nazi sympathiser and unexpectedly abandoned Audrey and her mother when she was 6. When the second world war began, she moved to Holland because her mother believed the country would stay neutral. The Nazis invaded anyway. Hepburn, like millions of others, nearly starved to death when the Nazis cut off food supplies and resorted to make flour out of tulip bulbs to bake food. Her envied slender figure was the result of being malnourished during adolescence. When they were finally liberated she suffered from acute anaemia and asthma.
Grateful for her survival after enduring the German occupation as a child, she dedicated the remainder of her life to helping impoverished children in the poorest nations. She was able to show the world that pain came in many forms, such as loss of their loved ones, hunger, disease, drought, war or lack of human rights. She worked hard with UNICEF knowing that she could change and help them.
I chose Audrey Hepburn because people nowadays only know her as a pretty actress, but she was far more than that. She was not only a film and fashion icon, but a devoted humanitarian worker who still influences the world we live in now. After she passed away from cancer, the Audrey Hepburn Memorial Fund was initiated to implement educational programs for 120 million children around the world.