Audrey Hepburn Natural Star Quality

Audrey Hepburn Natural Star Quality  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Christie's. 

Audrey Hepburn had a natural “star” quality that enchanted Hollywood and moviegoers in the 1950s and ‘60s.  Simplicity is the word often used to describe her.

I never thought I would be in pictures with a face like mine.
— Audrey Hepburn

“Boil it all down to what counts the most:  What is the essence of what you are trying to do, what is the most important thing?  Things only get complicated when you are trying to address too many issues,” she said.

That’s how Audrey viewed fashion, relationships and acting. 

Paramount Studios gave her a batch of scripts to read in 1960.  The only one that interested her was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” a novella by Truman Capote.

Holly Golightly, the part she was considering in the script was a lady of the evening, a lost soul, who leaves Texas, her husband and stepchildren for the high life of a New York party girl.  Audrey wasn’t sure she had the comic edge to play the kooky, free-spirit.  It would be a stretch. 

Holly was an extrovert.   Audrey was an introvert.  But everyone pressed her to do it.  

Henry Mancini wrote the infamous “Moon River” theme song from the 1961 classic that would become Audrey’s signature role.  He said he was inspired by the actress and also wrote “Charade” and “Two for the Road” for her.  He said all three had Audrey’s quality of wistfulness, a kind of slight sadness. 

Normally the composer had to see a completed film before writing the music.  But things were different with Audrey.  He knew what to write just by reading the script.  When he finally met the actress for the first time he could tell “Moon River” was on target.

“I knew the exact quality of her voice and that she could sing ‘Moon River’ beautifully,” he said.  “To this day, no one has done it with more feeling or understanding.”

Audrey was so sincere in the film sitting at her open window singing “Moon River” and accompanying herself on guitar, so right for the moment.  It worked beautifully, he said.   Her big eyes gave Mancini the push to get a little more sentimental than he normally did with lyrics.

She received her fourth best actress nomination for her role in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  When people complemented her acting she tended to shy away and describe how those around her were really responsible for her success.

“I never thought I would be in pictures with a face like mine,” she said.

Audrey made 28 movies.  She won one Oscar for the 1953 classic “Roman Holiday.” 

She won her fifth Oscar nomination in 1967 for her role as a blind woman terrorized in her home for "Wait Until Dark."  After the film "Wait Until Dark," she left full-time acting and lived mostly in Switzerland.  As Goodwill ambassador for Unicef she traveled widely in Africa and Latin America. 

“She was boyishly slender, with an aristocratic bearing, the trace of a European accent and a hint of mischief,” is how “New York Times Magazine” described Audrey at the time of her death.

She passed away at age 63 from colon cancer.

On June 15, Christie’s, South Kensington, England, featured a selection of Audrey’s film posters in its Vintage Film Posters auction.  

Audrey Hepburn

Roman Holiday; lobby card set; Paramount, 1953; 11 inches by 14 inches;  $777.

Funny Face; one-sheet poster linen-backed; Paramount, 1957; 41 inches by 27 inches;  $920.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s; scene card #7; Paramount, 1961; 11 inches by 14 inches;  $1,022.

My Fair Lady; Italian, two-foglio poster linen-backed; Warner Bros., 1964; 55 inches by 39 inches;  $3,883.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s; six-sheet poster linen-backed; Paramount; 1961; 81 inches by 81 inches;  $20,438.  

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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