Monday, May 04, 2009

Audrey's 80th Birthday

I think this clip from "Always," Hepburn's final film, is poignant.
Hepburn's character, an angel named Hap, gives advice to
Richard Dreyfuss, whose character is recently deceased.

Today would have been actress Audrey Hepburn's 80th birthday, but she died of appendiceal cancer on Jan. 20, 1993.

Hepburn — like that other actress named Hepburn — was a unique talent. In fact, she is one of only nine people to win the four major entertainment awards in American show business — a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. The Grammy and the Emmy were awarded posthumously.

Unlike that other Hepburn, however, Audrey Hepburn's life was much too short. She was only 63 when she died. But she lived her life well, winning an Academy Award for her performance in 1953's "Roman Holiday" and earning four more nominations (for "Sabrina," "The Nun's Story," "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Wait Until Dark").

Like her life, Hepburn's acting career was abbreviated. After her Oscar–nominated performance in 1967's "Wait Until Dark," in which she played a blind woman who was targeted by three criminals looking for heroin hidden in a doll, she appeared sporadically in films. She returned to the screen in 1976's "Robin and Marian," co–starring Sean Connery, then appeared in 1979's "Bloodline" (her only R–rated film) and 1981's "They All Laughed," her final starring role.

Her last film appearance was in 1989's "Always," in a cameo performance as the angel Hap. It was Steven Spielberg's remake of the 1943 film "A Guy Named Joe."

In addition to her acting work, Hepburn did extensive work for UNICEF and was named a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF shortly after finishing her work on "Always." She had very definite opinions about the human condition.

"The 'Third World' is a term I don't like very much, because we're all one world," she said. "I want people to know that the largest part of humanity is suffering."

In April 1989, after visiting civil war–torn Sudan, where food supply lines from aid agencies had been severed, she said, "I saw but one glaring truth: These are not natural disasters but man–made tragedies for which there is only one man–made solution — peace."


In fact, you could write a book about Hepburn's life and several have. You certainly can't do justice to her life and career in a single blog post.

But we can be thankful she was among us.