Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening ladies and gents, and thanks for stopping by this wonderful October day.
First and foremost, we want to say a big heartfelt thank you, right from the bottom of our hearts for helping us get this far, being just one month shy of celebrating our very first anniversary! Yay, go us! Now that we’ve blown our own trumpet, and thanked you, our wonderful readers, we’ll now get down to business and talk about our Black Sheep of the month for October, Audrey Hepburn.
In case you don’t know, Audrey was a Hollywood icon in every sense of the word, and despite her many successes, her life was surprisingly tragic. Many believe that she could have achieved so much more in her time, before her life was unfortunately cut short. She’s a constant reminder that life sometimes is not long as we expect it to be. Here’s a look at why Audrey Hepburn was a Black Sheep of her time.
Who was Audrey Hepburn?
Audrey was an actor, a philanthropist, a humanitarian, and a style icon who will go down in history as one of the greatest actresses to ever grace the screens. She is perhaps best known for her role in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, a cult classic and remains one of the most popular movies of all time. She also starred in a number of other Hollywood classics over the years, including , ‘Gigi’ and ‘Roman Holiday’ with the legendary Gregory Peck.
Audrey Hepburn was not only a style icon, but one of only a handful of women who won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and an Academy Award.
Despite her vastly impressive resume, Audrey’s was considered a Black Sheep due to her brave actions for both women and victims of the war, how much of a Black Sheep was she?
Well, for instance, her parents were alleged Nazi sympathizers during World War 2 and much like her Black Sheep Family, she did not stand idly by and watch the atrocious choices made by those close to her. But we’ll get to that later.
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Rushton, on the 4th of May, 1929, in Brussels. She spent much of her childhood in Belgium, England, and the Netherlands. During WW2, once the Nazis invaded the country, Audrey and her mother struggled to survive, as they were malnourished when the Nazis cut off the food supply.
Audrey’s slender figure, which was the envy of countless women, was actually due to the fact that she, along with millions of other people at the time, were starving. Cruel twist of fate am I right?!
Like many of the Black Sheep before her, she was a strong willed, authentic human being that could not accept the hand she was dealt. Despite her father being a Nazi sympathizer, Audrey helped the resistance and performed in ballet shows to entertain them. However, she did much more than that, Audrey smuggled food, delivered messages, and any money made from her ballet performances were donated to the resistance movement.
Fucking awesome to say the least right! Although not in the best position, she still found a way to fight in her own way. Very Black Sheep, if I do say so myself!
Broadway and the big screen
After the war, Audrey continued to dance and honed her craft, by studying ballet in Amsterdam and then London.
Finally, she made her stage debut in the musical High Button Shoes, where she served as a chorus girl. From there, Audrey went on to perform in more stage shows before finally appearing on the big screen in the 1951 feature film, One Wild Oat, of which she wasn’t actually officially credited.
She would go on to appear in more films, including Lavender Hill Mob, which starred another now Hollywood icon, Alex Guinness. By 22, Hepburn made her Broadway debut in Gigi, which was a critical success and put her on the radar in Hollywood.
Starting to see the similarities between her and other Black Sheep? A common theme we see with these extraordinary people is there indomitable will for not only survival, but a large capacity to thrive against adversity. Buts let’s continue…
Two years later, Audrey Hepburn rose to stardom for her role as “Ann” in ‘Roman Holiday’ along with the famed Gregory Peck who played Joe Bradley, an American journalist who falls in love with the runaway princess. Critics and audiences alike loved her and her performance which earned her an Academy Award for best actress.
She would go on to appear in more films, and pick up more awards, including a Tony.
After appearing in films such as ‘War and Peace’, along with ‘The Nun’s Story’ and of course ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She continued to performed sporadically throughout the 70s and 80s, never fully satisfied with her own progress, but still very known for exuberant nature.
Her final on-screen role was in 1989’s ‘Always’, which was directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.
Leaving behind a legacy
Towards the end of her career, Hepburn’s acting took a back seat. Her humble beginnings and hardships she faced as a child motivated her to make a difference and become a philanthropist. A voice for women and victims alike.
In the late 80’s, she became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and dedicated her life to spreading awareness for impoverished children and the issues that plagued Latin America, Asia, and Africa. She knew all too well what starvation in a hostile environment could do to you, and so she made it her mission to help as many children in need as physically possible.
Need I say more?! Sometimes life’s biggest hardships are our biggest mentors, and Audrey is a prime example of this and the reason why she’s our Black Sheep of the Month. Let’s continue…
Her commitment to UNICEF, philanthropy and improving the human condition earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President George Bush.
Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, her life was cut extremely short. After a battle with colon cancer, she passed away at her home in Switzerland in 1993, leaving behind a legacy the likes of which we may never see again much like our Black Sheep, Chadwick.
So, what made Audrey Hepburn a black sheep?
On paper, Audrey was the ultimate role model. She was kind, she was caring, she was compassionate, she was beautiful, she was talented and a tenaciously hard worker.
The fact that her parents were both fascists and Nazi sympathizers really hurt her reputation, as they were both members of the British Union of Fascists, and would regularly hold rallies and tour Germany. But like our last Black Sheep, she took those hits and returned them two fold in activist work.
Her mother even wrote for ‘The Blackshirt’ which was a fascist magazine and her father was alleged to have funded a newspaper designed to spread Nazi propaganda.
But it doesn’t stop there, like many of us she made mistakes. Her most notorious one being an affair with William Holden. But like our previous Black Sheep, Michelle Rodriguez, she accepted the consequences and tried to reconcile for her actions.
Hepburn began the affair with womanizer co-star William Holden, who was married at the time. Motive for this, is her desperate attempt to start a family, to have children to be precise. Unbeknownst to Audrey, Holden had apparently had a vasectomy and couldn’t give Audrey what she wanted, and so she had no choice but to end the relationship.
Soon after, she married Mel Ferrer. This was not long after her relationship with Holden and due to the fact that Hollywood execs persisted her to publicly announce their engagement, in fear that the tabloids would manipulate the story of Hepburn’s affair with Holden.
Poor choice on Audrey’s behalf, but you can’t help but sympathize with her a bit on wanting a family considering her upbringing but still not a god way to go about it. Nonetheless, mistakes are made by everyone, but this does not take away from the great things she did.
Audrey left behind a legacy the likes of which we may never see again, and that is a crying shame.