Audrey Hepburn, born May 4, 1929, and died January 20, 1993, was a British actress, model, dancer and humanitarian. Recognized 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. Take a look below for 30 more fun and interesting facts about Audrey Hepburn.
1. Born in Ixelles, a municipality near Brussels, Hepburn spent her childhood between Belgium, England and the Netherlands.
2. 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 theater productions.
3. Hepburn appeared in fewer movies as her life went on, devoting much of her later life to UNICEF. She had contributed to the organization since 1954, then worked in some of the poorest communities of Africa, South America and Asia between 1988 and 1992.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. She remains 1 of 12 people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards.
7. In 1990, Hepburn was chosen by People Magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world.
8. She won the 1953 Best Actress Academy Award for Roman holiday. On March 25, 1954, she accepted the award from the much revered Academy president Jean Hersholt.
9. She was fluent in English, Dutch, Spanish, French and Italian. She was raised bilingually; speaking English and Dutch.
10. Hepburn was briefly considered for the main role in Cleopatra, but the part went to Elizabeth Taylor.
11. She confessed to eating tulip bulbs and tried to bake grass into bread during the hard days of World War II.
12. She trained as a dental assistant before becoming an actress.
13. During World War II, she lived in Arnhem, Netherlands. She worked with the Dutch Underground, giving ballet performances to collect donations for the anti-Nazi effort and as an occasional courier. She also received dancer training and later studied ballet in London.
14. Her father was of approximately one quarter English and three quarters Austrian descent. Her mother was Dutch, with remote French and English roots.
15. Her character in Funny Face was inspired by Suzy Parker, who made a fashionable cameo appearance in the movie in the “Think Pink” sequence.
16. According to her biography, Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait, she made a vow to herself never to exceed 103 pounds. With the exception of her pregnancies, she succeeded.
17. Her famous “little black dress” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, designed by Hubert de Givenchy, was sold at a Christie’s auction for approximately $920,000 on December 6, 2006.
18. She saved the life of her friend Capucine, who attempted suicide on several occasions.
19. As of 2018, she and Katherine Hepburn are the only Best Actress Oscar winners to share a last name. However, they aren’t related.
20. She met future husband Mel Ferrer at a party hosted by Gregory Peck. It was Ferrer who sent Hepburn the script for Ondine, which Hepburn agreed to play on Broadway, in which the couple co-starred.
21. She once admitted that she would not have accepted the role of Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady if she had known that producer Jack L. Warner planned to have all of her singing dubbed.
22. Hepburn nearly married James Hanson, a businessman, after filming Roman Holiday. An ivory satin wedding gown was designed by the Fontana sisters, but Hepburn called off the wedding at the last minute.
23. She suffered from hydrophobia, a condition that severely hampered some of her scenes in Two for the Road. When a shot called for co-star Albert Finney to throw Hepburn into a swimming pool, divers were placed on standby just to placate the actress after it was learned that she had a morbid fear of water.
24. She donated all the salaries she earned for her final projects to UNICEF.
25. Art was one of her longtime hobbies. She drew pictures of stories when she was a child to distract herself from chronic hunger pains during World War II. As an adult, she took up painting to pass time while pregnant with her son, Luca.
26. When Hepburn was in the final stages of her illness, the press took pictures of her while she was at home, and published the photos, much to the disapproval of everyone who knew her.
27. Hepburn is mentioned by name in the Frank Sinatra standard “Nancy with the Laughing Face.”
28. Like fellow five time nominees, Anne Bancroft and Jennifer Jones, she won the Best Actress Oscar on her first nomination, but didn’t win again on subsequent acting nominations.
29. Hepburn was noted for her fashion choices and distinctive look, to the extent that journalist Mark Tungate has described her as a recognizable brand.
30. In her private life, Hepburn preferred to wear casual and comfortable clothes, contrary to the haute couture she wore on screen and at public events.