Audrey Hepburn Simply Knowing Her Lines

Audrey Hepburn Simply Knowing Her Lines  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Christie's.

Truman Capote thought Audrey Hepburn was all wrong for the part of Holly Golightly in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  He preferred Marilyn Monroe.

I think it’s quite wonderful that this skinny broad could be turned into a marketable commodity.
— Audrey Hepburn

Audrey read the book and liked it but had concerns too about what turned out to be her signature role. She was no Marilyn Monroe and worried whether she had the comic flair to play a kooky extrovert supporting herself as a call girl while dreaming of a romance with the richest man in the world.

The film was also a lot different than the book. The part called for an extrovert. Audrey was introverted.       

“The book was really rather bitter,” Truman Capote said. “Holly Golightly was real—a tough character, not an Audrey Hepburn type at all. But Paramount double-crossed me and gave the part to Audrey Hepburn.”  

Composer Henry Mancini said Audrey inspired him to write Moon River, the song she strummed on the guitar sitting on the fire escape outside her apartment window in the film.  It had Audrey’s quality of wistfulness—a kind of slight sadness he said.

When he actually met her for the first time he said he knew the song was perfect for her. He understood the exact quality of her voice and had no doubt she could pull it off. Her big eyes gave him an added push to get a little more sentimental. 

Audrey Hepburn and the words “my huckleberry friend” became synonymous. So sincere. So perfect in the moment.

A film wardrobe designed by friend Givenchy turned her into a fashionista. She set a standard for elegance.

The Academy also nominated Audrey for an Oscar as best actress for the fourth time. Sophia Loren took home the prize for Two Women.   

Audrey’s acting style much like her philosophy was simple.

“I never really became an actress--in the sense that when people ask me how I did it, my only answer is I wouldn’t know,” she said.  “I just walked on the set knowing my lines and took it from there.”

Whether it had to do with fashion, relationships or work Audrey focused on the crux of things.

“Boil it all down to what counts the most,” she said. “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.” 

In April of 1991 the Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York, paid tribute to the film icon.  Excerpts from her films were shown and many of her co-stars and directors praised her. 

“I think it’s quite wonderful,” she said after a long applause, “that this skinny broad could be turned into a marketable commodity.”

Audrey never thought of herself as beautiful.  She didn’t like being flat-chested, having such angular shoulders, and a big nose and feet. But given the state of the world focusing on such superficial things seemed trivial to her.

On Sept. 27, Christie’s, London, featured the personal collection of Audrey Hepburn on the block.

Audrey Hepburn

Photograph; Funny Face; Bud Fraker; gelatin silver print; stamped Paramount Studio credit; circa 1956; 13 ¾ inches by 10 ¾ inches;  $13,380.

Photographs; 3; The Nun’s Story; Howell Conant; gelatin silver print; at a dress fitting; circa 1959; 9 5/8 inches by 7 1/8 inches; $14,216.

Photographs; 3; gelatin silver print production stills; Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Holly Golightly on set; 1961; 14 inches by 11 inches;  $28,433.

Photograph; gelatin silver print; Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Hepburn and George Peppard; signed by both; New York, 1960; 9 ¼ inches by 7 ½ inches;  $108,713. 

Working Script; Hepburn’s; Breakfast at Tiffany’s; dated Aug. 3, 1960; Paramount Production; $846,620.     

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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