His literary skills are far superior to mine and we have had some interesting debates around various books and authors and he often tests my intellect (and patience). I have asked him to be a guest on my blog this week and hope you enjoy this piece on The Last Movie Star.
Don’t forget to pop over to read his blog at Diary of an Internet Nobody.
So without further ado – here is Dale Cooper……
Thank you Lanthie, you’re too kind, it’s my pleasure to contribute to your blog. And hello readers of Life Cherries. As you may not be aware, I’m not much of one for a theme, so anyone allowing me open access to their website is pretty much going to get what they’re given, depending on what sort of stuff happens to float to the top of my consciousness at any given time. As it happens, the particular subject I’ve chosen is one very close to my heart and while I don’t intend it to be a comprehensive biography by any means, if it inspires you to discover or revisit any of the classics mentioned then my job is done.
I hope you enjoy my first post for Lanthie, you never know what you might get next……….
I’d like to share my appreciation and ongoing fondness for one star who shone so very brightly and brought joy and happiness to a great many people, both during her career and after.
In my opinion, the last person to truly epitomise the term Movie Star was a woman who originally wanted to be a ballet dancer, until World War Two put paid to her ambitions.
Born near Brussels on 4th May 1929, Edda Kathleen Ven Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston initially had a privileged upbringing. Her mother was Dutch baroness, her father an Anglo-Irish banker, and having moved to the Netherlands when still a young girl she spent a lot of her early years in a large country house near Arnhem, and also made her stage debut in local amateur productions.
Even from that age, her life reads like a movie script. In her teens she would carry messages tucked into her sock, past occupying German soldiers, to be passed on to membrrs of the resistance movement.
Any possibility of a peaceful existence were finally shattered when the Battle of Arnhem broke out, forcing her family, along with thousands of others to endure terrible privation and terrifying living conditions. She and her family were starving for long periods of time and even spent long days trapped in a basement as the battle raged outside.
The result of this was malnutrition from which her body never truly recovered, robbing her of the strength to become a full time dancer, something she always regretted.
Although she still got to show off her dancing prowess in so many classic movies in years to come.
That was when the world had come to know her as Audrey Hepburn.
She didn’t have to wait long for recognition and got her first taste of success when she was hand picked by ailing French author, Colette, to star in the stage version of her story, Gigi.
Not long after that, in 1951, Audrey came to England. She already slowed the uniquely fragile beauty that would make her such a star, as you can see from this early publicity shot, taken on the south coast.
Well, her promotional duties obviously paid off, because before too long Audrey was sharing the screen with none other than Alec Guinness, in a small walk-on part in Ealing comedy, The Lavender Hill Mob.
And it was only two years later, in 1953 that she landed the role that would make her a star.
Playing opposite the already huge star Gregory Peck, and with William Wyler in the directors chair, Audrey starred as a Princess who escapes into the romantic city of Rome whilst on an official visit and is taken in by an unsuspecting journalist.
Roman Holiday is a delightful fairy tale that showcases Audrey’s mischievous charm to great effect, also allowing her to demonstrate a maturity in acting that belies her youth.
Here she takes direction from Wyler as Peck looks on from the sidelines, on location in Rome.
The film was a huge success, winning her an Oscar and catapulting Audrey into the glittering world of movie stardom during one of the most booming periods in Hollywood history.
Sabrina the following year, co-starring with William Holden, with whom she began an affair, and
Humphrey Bogart, cemented her reputation as a star that everyone wanted to work with.
[ Audrey married fellow Hollywood star Mel Ferrer in 1954, but the marriage wasn’t the fairy story it first appeared. She suffered a miscarriage not long after becoming pregnant, and another a few years later when thrown from a horse whilst filming a western, The Unforgiven. There was also an affair with another co-star, Albert Finney.
Audrey’s first marriage ended in divorce in the late ’60s. ]
If she was still missing her dancing career in 1957, Audrey’s next big hit gave her every opportunity to show off the skills that she’d learnt as a young girl in Europe.
Funny Face was a joyous Paris-set musical in which she played a young model, and whether dancing with co-star Fred Astaire or in numbers like the one in this shot, you can see the delight in her face and it’s easy to tell how much she’s enjoying herself.
The years that followed, through to the late sixties, were the most prolific of Hepburn’s career and feature some of the most iconic films of the decade.
Following the controversial The Unforgiven, in which Audrey played a Native American woman who is raised by a white family, (A tough, underrated film that also features Burt Lancaster in a typically gritty role.) came possibly Audrey Hepburn’s most famous role.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Blake Edwards’ sterilised, tamed adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel about a New York call girl was initially going to star Marylin Monroe, but Hepburn made the role her own with effortless style.
An icon was born.
After the enormous success of Breakfast… Audrey continued to act, and despite the disappointment of having her singing in My Fair Lady mostly dubbed over with the voice of Marni Nixon and losing out at the Oscars to Julie Andrews, the film is one of her best loved.
There were many other hits, including one of my personal favourite films, Charade with Cary Grant, another thriller, Wait Until Dark, in which Audrey played a blind woman, terrorised by two criminals in her house, and in 1967 she starred opposite real-life lover Albert Finney in Two For The Road.
This candid on location shot shows the obvious chemistry between them.
Soon after this romantic comedy Audrey went into self imposed retirement from acting to look after her children (Sean, born in 1966 and Luca, in 1970) and didn’t return to the screen until her touching portrayal of Maid Marion to Sean Connery’s Robin Hood in Robin and Marion.
I remember watching My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Sabrina as a kid. At the time Audrey Hepburn was just a pretty lady in films who my mum liked.
Growing up, I revisited her films and realised the true beauty of the woman behind the glamorous persona.
Seeing her interviewed later in her life, the grace and poise remained, along with a deep compassion that led her, in 1980, to being made UNICEF goodwill ambassador.
Unlike many famous people who are accorded this honour, Audrey continued her humanitarian work all over the world, from Hanoi to Dacca.
In 1990 Audrey was presented with the Cecil B DeMille award for Outstanding Contribution to Entertainment.
Surrounded by her family, Audrey Hepburn, The Last Movie Star, died on 20th of January 1993 at her home in Switzerland.