Audrey Hepburn was a humanitarian, style icon, and actress who shined in Hollywood from her very first film. To celebrate what would be her 89th birthday, here are 9 lessons she taught us that are relevant to modern-day society.
It’s okay to find your soulmate later on in life
Audrey went through two divorces before finding her true love at age 49. Robert Wolders had tragically just lost his wife at the time of their meeting, and Audrey was finalising her second divorce with psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.
They both found each other at unhappy times in their lives and became happy together. In the book: Audrey Her Real Story, by Alexander Walker, he writes that Audrey spoke to Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne and said, “If I’d met him when I was eighteen, I wouldn’t have appreciated him”.
It shows that people come into our lives at different times. The pressure we put on ourselves to seek love is unnecessary.
Everything happens for a reason
In an interview with Barbara Walters in 1989, Walters wondered where Hepburn had any regrets for giving up certain movies, when both her marriages had broke down.
Audrey replied, “Oh Lord no…. that is the way my life went. I don’t regret for a minute making the decision to quit movies for my children”.
Your dream career can change
Her mind was set on becoming a ballet dancer. Walker reported that Audrey once lived in London and use to earn money in the evenings dancing at clubs. She would then walk home through Piccadilly in the early hours of the morning.
Everythingaudrey.com explains how Audrey’s height of 5’6” made her too tall to succeed in ballet. Additionally, there was a lack of intense training due to the war.
Audrey did manage to somewhat fulfil her ballet dreams however, when she danced with Fred Astaire in Funny Face.
Follow your own sense of style
People admire Audrey’s simplicity and elegance. They love that she didn’t feel the need to reveal her body. But as much as I adore what she wore and believe it’s impacted me greatly, my adoration is down to her confidence.
I have no issue in the Marilyn Monroe’s and Sophia Loren’s who wore tight clothing which adorned their curves.
Audrey was aware that her body didn’t represent the 50’s ideal. And rather than try to create bigger hips or a larger bust, she emphasised what she had. She chose clothes that represented her style and not what was trendy.
To learn how her style developed, I wrote a researched piece on her as a style Icon.
Stand up for what you want
My favourite movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, features the classic song Moon River. It won best movie song in 1962 and has been sung by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Judy Garland.
Paramount did not like the idea of Audrey Hepburn singing, and when they tried to remove the song, The Telegraph writes that Audrey said that it would be over her dead body.
The song stayed and the rest is history.
Make the best of every situation
Despite all the ups-and down’s in her early life – losing her father, moving to a country invaded by war, periods of wealth combined with hardship, she made the best of every situation.
The book Audrey Her Real Story, mentions how Audrey’s dance teacher acknowledged that her determination was perhaps caused by such a close brush with death.
It also notes how wartime necessities taught her a variety of skills that she applied throughout her life. An example is included of how she did a fast repair of a fellow dancer’s old motorbike, managing to get it going again.
We all make mistakes
After the Oscar success of Roman Holiday, her second film was the fairy-tale romance Sabrina. A young Audrey Hepburn fell in love with her co-star William Holden – an older, prominent Hollywood star.
Holden was married and had two children. They began a secret affair – his wife became aware of Audrey as a potential threat to their marriage, with Audrey even coming round once for dinner.
Desperate for children of her own; Holden had already had a vasectomy and was unable to give Audrey children. The affair ended, and when they worked together 10 years later on the film Paris when it sizzles, her love for him was now on a friendly basis. Supposedly, he was still crazy about her.
Life goes on after your career
Our careers are considered a significant part of who we are. Nevertheless, there’s life beyond them.
Instead of settling down and living comfortably in Switzerland, when Audrey’s children had grown, she joined UNICEF – thought of as her second career.
Her role was a special ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund. Audrey herself felt that she couldn’t do much, but she could create a contribution and use her fame to make an impact. Barbara Walters touched on her humanitarian work in their one-on-one interview.
Kindness goes along way
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others – Audrey Hepburn
It is virtually impossible to read or hear a bad word spoken. Countless leading stars of the decade, such as Gregory Peck, had nothing but sincere adoration. Her stylist Hubert Givenchy was her life-long friend until her passing.
If you are an Old Hollywood fan, read:
What do you love most about Audrey Hepburn? Out of this list, what is your favourite lesson?