Today’s Google Doodle has marked the birthday of Audrey Hepburn. The actress, style icon and later a humanitarian, who died in 1993, would have turned 85 on this day.
Years after her death, she has remained as influential today as she was during her lifetime. But what was it about Hepburn that still inspires generation after generation and keeps her work alive?
Perhaps her roles can shed light on how she has became one of the best-loved actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Before landing the role as high society girl Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn had already made her name in other films playing a diverse range of characters.
She starred as Princess Ann in the romantic comedy Roman Holiday in 1953 alongside Gregory Peck. The film was both a critical success and commercial success, estimated to have earned $3million at the North American box office during its first week of release. The role went on to win her an Oscar for best actress, along with a slew of other awards.
Other notable Hepburn roles included Sabrina, in which she co-starred with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. Sabrina was another romantic comedy. This time Hepburn played the eponymous shy heroine in love with a wealthy playboy. The film was re-made in 1995 with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond in the lead role but it could not replicate the charm of the original.
Audrey Hepburn in quotes
Audrey Hepburn in quotes
1/5 Audrey Hepburn
"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and... I believe in miracles."
2/5 Audrey Hepburn
"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!"
3/5 Audrey Hepburn
"The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters."
4/5 Audrey Hepburn
"I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it."
5/5 Audrey Hepburn
"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others."
Yet Hepburn did not restrict herself to romantic comedies. The actress took on the role of Natasha Rostova, in the 1956 film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The actress starred with Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer in the first English-language film version of the novel. Hepburn’s character was caught in the midst of the French invasion of Russia - and a complex relationship.
The actress did not stop there though. She sang and danced alongside Fred Astaire in the musical Funny Face in 1957, showing her diversity and range as a performer.
But it was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the 1961 adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella of the same name, which cemented her status as a Hollywood legend. She described the role as one of the hardest she had had to play. Golightly exuded confidence while Hepburn herself was more of an introvert.
Her portrayal of the extrovert yet brittle society girl, who unwittingly falls in love, has continued to win audience’s hearts. The classic love story teamed with the character’s distinctive look has attract new fans who have gone on to discover her other work.
Post-Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn continued to have success, particularly with her performance as Eliza Doolittle in 1964's My Fair Lady, a musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. The role was possibly her second-most famous character and the films’ popularity has lasted to present day, with productions of the musical playing in London’s West End to this day.
She continued to challenge herself as an actress with emotionally demanding roles in The Children’s Hour (1961), Wait Until Dark (1967) and Bloodline (1979).
Hepburn is synonymous with style and a Hollywood glamour of an era gone by, which is why that even to this day she makes appearances in adverts for chocolate bars while her look is emulated time and again.
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