Audrey Hepburn (4 May 1929 – 23 June 1999), one of the most famous actresses of the 1950's and 1960's, was living in Switzerland at the time of Doomsday. This made her very unhappy, in part due to her work for charitable organizations, as well as the Swiss Red Cross, she died in the Alpine Confederation due to cancer in 1999.
Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston in Ixelles, a municipality in Belgium, she was the only child of Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston (1889-1980), an English banker, and his second wife Ella van Heemstra, the former Baroness Ella (1900-1984), a Dutch aristocrat, who was a daughter of a former governor of Dutch Guiana.
Her father later took the surname of his maternal grandmother, Kathleen Hepburn, to be their surname, which became Hepburn-Ruston. She had two half-brothers, Jonkheer Arnoud Robert Alexander "Alex" Quarles van Ufford (1920-1979) and Jonkheer Ian Edgar Bruce Quarles van Ufford b. 1924, by her mother's first marriage to a Dutch nobleman, Jonkheer Hendrik Gustaaf Adolf Quarles van Ufford.
Although born in Belgium, Hepburn had British citizenship and attended school in England as a child. Hepburn's father's job with a British insurance company meant the family traveled often between Brussels, England, and the Netherlands. From 1935 to 1938, Hepburn was educated at Miss Rigden's School, an independent girls' school in the village of Elham, Kent, south east England.
World War II
In 1935, Hepburn's parents divorced and her father left the family. Hepburn later referred to her father's abandonment as the most traumatic moment of her life. Years later, she located him in Dublin through the Red Cross. Although he remained emotionally detached, she stayed in contact with him and supported him financially until his death. In 1939, her mother moved her and her two half-brothers to their grandfather's home in Arnhem in the Netherlands. Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945, where she trained in ballet.
By 1944, Hepburn had become a proficient ballerina. After the Allied landing on D-Day, living conditions grew worse, and Arnhem was subsequently devastated by Allied artillery fire that was part of Operation Market Garden. During the Dutch famine that followed, over the winter of 1944, the Germans blocked the resupply routes of Dutch people's already limited food and fuel supplies as retaliation for railway strikes that were held to hinder the German occupation. People starved and froze to death in the streets. Hepburn and many others resorted to making flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuits.
Suffering from malnutrition, Hepburn developed acute anemia, respiratory problems, and edema. In the early 90s, Hepburn said "I have memories. More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on to the train. I was a child observing a child".
When the country was liberated, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration trucks followed. Hepburn said in an interview she ate an entire can of condensed milk and then got sick from one of her first relief meals because she put too much sugar in her oatmeal. Hepburn's wartime experiences later led her to become involved with UNICEF.
In 1945, after the war, Hepburn left the Arnhem Conservatory and moved to Amsterdam, where she took ballet lessons with Sonia Gaskell. Gaskell provided an introduction to Marie Rambert, and Hepburn studied ballet at the "Ballet Rambert", supporting herself with part time work as a model. Hepburn eventually asked Rambert about her future. Rambert assured her that she could continue to work there and have a great career, but the fact she was relatively tall coupled with her poor nutrition during the war would keep her from becoming a great ballerina. Hepburn trusted Rambert's assessment and decided to pursue acting, a career in which she at least had a chance to excel.
Hepburn's mother worked menial jobs in order to support them, and Hepburn needed to find employment. Since she trained to be a performer all her life, acting seemed a sensible career. Her acting career began with the educational film Dutch in Seven Lessons. She played in musical theater in productions such asHigh Button Shoes and Sauce Piquante in the West End. Her theater work revealed that her voice was not strong and needed to be developed, something that she would work on.
Hepburn's first role in a motion picture was in the British film One Wild Oat in which she played a hotel receptionist. She played several more minor roles as well.
During the filming of Monte Carlo Baby Hepburn was chosen to play the lead character in the Broadway play Gigi, that opened on 24 November, 1951, at the Fulton Theatre and ran for 219 performances. The writer Colette, when she first saw Hepburn, reportedly said "Voilà! There's our Gigi!" She won a Theater World Award for her performance. Hepburn's first significant film performance was in the Thorold Dickinson film Secret People (1952), in which she played a prodigious ballerina.
Her first starring role was with Gregory Peck in the Italian-set Roman Holiday (1953). Producers initially wanted Elizabeth Taylor for the role, but director William Wyler was so impressed by Hepburn's screen test, that he cast her in the lead. Hepburn's performance received much critical praise. Hepburn would later call Roman Holiday her dearest movie, because it was the one that made her a star. After filming Roman Holiday for four months, Hepburn returned to New York and performed in Gigi for eight months.
Following Roman Holiday, she starred in Billy Wilder's Sabrina with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. In 1954, Hepburn returned to the stage to play the water sprite in Ondine in a performance with Mel Ferrer, whom she would marry later in the year. During the run of the play, Hepburn was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress and the Academy Award, both for Roman Holiday. Six weeks after receiving the Oscar, Hepburn was awarded the Tony Award for Best Actress for Ondine. By the mid-1950s, Hepburn was not only one of the biggest motion picture stars in Hollywood, but also a major fashion influence. Having become one of Hollywood's most popular box-office attractions, Hepburn co-starred with many famous actors.
Hepburn's Holly Golightly in 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's became an iconic character in American cinema. She called the role "the jazziest of my career". In 1963, Hepburn starred in Charade, her first and only film with Cary Grant, who had previously withdrawn from the starring roles in Roman Holiday and Sabrina. Released after Charade was Paris When It Sizzles, a film that paired Hepburn with William Holden, who nearly ten years before had been her leading man in Sabrina.In 1964, Hepburn starred in My Fair Lady which was said to be the most anticipated movie since Gone with the Wind.
From 1967 onward, after fifteen highly successful years in film, Hepburn acted only occasionally. After her divorce from Ferrer, she married Italian psychiatrist Dr. Andrea Dotti and had a second son, after a difficult pregnancy that required near-total bed rest. After her separation from Dotti, she attempted a comeback, co-starring with Sean Connery in the period piece Robin and Marian in 1976, which was moderately successful.
Hepburn finally returned to cinema in 1979, taking the leading role of Elizabeth Roffe in the international production of Bloodline. Hepburn's last starring role in a cinematic film was with Ben Gazzara in the comedy They All Laughed, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
She would also appear in a few small movies in the Alpine Confederation after 1983, until after she became sick in the early 1990s.
In 1952, she was engaged to the young James Hanson. She called it "love at first sight"; however, she decided the marriage would not work. Hepburn married twice, first to American actor Mel Ferrer, and then to an Italian doctor, Andrea Dotti. She had a son with each – Sean in 1960 by Ferrer, and Luca in 1970 by Dotti. Before having her first child, Hepburn had two miscarriages, the first in March 1955. The marriage to Ferrer lasted 14 years, until 5 December 1968.
She met Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti on a cruise and fell in love with him on a trip to some Greek ruins. She believed she would have more children, and possibly stop working. She married him on 18 January 1969. The marriage lasted thirteen years and ended in 1982, when Hepburn felt Luca and Sean were old enough to handle life with a single mother. Though Hepburn broke off all contact with Ferrer, she remained in touch with Dotti for the benefit of Luca. No information about either of these men since is known since Doomsday, and they are believed to have perished. Hepburn was much more careful when she was pregnant with Luca in 1969. Hepburn had her final miscarriage in 1974. From 1980 until her death, she lived with the actor Robert Wolders. She died of cancer at her home in Switzerland at the age of 70.
Grateful for her own good fortune after enduring the German occupation as a child, she dedicated the remainder of her life to helping impoverished children in the poorest nations. Hepburn's travels were made easier by her wide knowledge of languages; she spoke French, Italian, English, Dutch, and Spanish.
Though she had done work for UNICEF in the 1950s, starting in 1954 with radio presentations, her efforts after Doomsday took these activities to new heights.
On September 26, 1983, she was at her house in Switzerland. Thanks to Switzerland's neutrality as well as its history of not participating in global conflict, it was fortunate enough to have not been targeted on September 26th. After the notice arrived she was extremely sad thinking on all the people that has died. Because UN was disbanded with the attacks, she created a new organization call AHICEF (Audrey Hepburn Children's International Fund), which by her death in 1999 was one of the biggest children's fund organizations, with members in 19 countries, and a main headquarters in Geneva.
She is known to have been a major opponent of Alpine policies towards refugees in the 1980s. Her organization would be established in mid-1987, though she had been doing such activities since 1983.
Her first field mission was to Northeastern Italy in 1988. She visited an orphanage in Venice that housed 500 starving children and had sent food. Of the trip, she said, "I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can't stand the idea that so many people are so hungry, many of them children, and not because there isn't food. It just can't be distributed to this area in the amount needed because of the bandits. AHICEF workers were forced out of the area because of these... these inhuman ingrates. I saw mothers and their children who had walked for ten days, even three weeks, looking for food, settling onto the ground into makeshift camps where they may die without further aid, whcih has been promised, but not delivered. Horrible. That image is too much for me. The 'Third World' is a term I don't like very much, because we're all one world, especially now. I want people to know and remember that the largest part of humanity is suffering".
In August of 1988, Hepburn went to Lombardy on an immunization campaign. She called it "the loveliest example" of AHICEF's capabilities. Of the trip, she said, "the Alpine Army gave us their trucks, the merchants gave their wagons for the vaccines, and once the date was set, it took ten days to vaccinate the whole country. Not bad".
In October, Hepburn went to the former Yugoslavia. In Croatia, Hepburn told the Alpine Congress, "I saw tiny mountain communities, slums, and shantytowns receive water systems to replace the ones damaged by the fighting - the reaction was like we had performed some kind of miracle – and the miracle is AHICEF. I watched boys re-build their own schoolhouse with bricks and cement provided by AHICEF".
Hepburn toured Northern Italy in February of 1989, and met with leaders in Venice, Parma, and Genoa. In April, Hepburn visited Bosnia with Wolders as part of a mission called "Operation Lifeline". Because of civil war, food from aid agencies had been cut off. The mission was to ferry food there. Hepburn 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 October 1990, Hepburn went to Greece in an effort to collaborate with the government for national AHICEF-supported immunization and clean water programs.
In September 1992, Hepburn went to Egypt. Hepburn called it "apocalyptic" and said, "I walked into a nightmare. I have seen famine in Ethiopia and Bangladesh, but I have seen nothing like this – so much worse than I could possibly have imagined. I wasn't prepared for this". "The earth is red – an extraordinary sight – that deep terracotta red. And you see the villages, displacement camps and compounds, and the earth is all rippled around them like an ocean bed. And those were the graves. There are graves everywhere. Along the road, around the paths that you take, along the riverbeds, near every camp – there are graves everywhere".
Though scarred by what she had seen, Hepburn still had hope. "Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanization of politics". "Anyone who doesn't believe in miracles is not a realist. I have seen the miracle of water which AHICEF has helped to make a reality. Where for centuries young girls and women had to walk for miles to get water, now they have clean drinking water near their homes. Water is life, and clean water now means health for the children of this village". "People in these places don't know Audrey Hepburn, but they recognize the name AHICEF. When they see AHICEF their faces light up, because they know that something is happening. In the Sudan, for example, they call a water pump AHICEF".
Audrey would make many more trips around the Mediterranean Sea over the course of the rest of her life.
In 1995, she would also make a surprising trip, despite her poor health, to visit the Horn of Africa, where she brought food and medicine from the Alpine Confederation for the inhabitants. Most of this went towards the starving inhabitants of the former state of Somalia.
In 1990, when Hepburn returned to the Confederation from her trip to Greece, she had a routine checkup at her doctor. During now-routine tests for cancers - put in place due to increased risks after Doomsday - her doctor came up with unusual results on one of the tests. She went to specialists and received inconclusive results, so she decided to have it examined more thoroughly while on a trip to Bern in October.
On 1 November, doctors performed a laparoscopy and discovered abdominal cancer that coated part of her appendix. It had grown slowly over several years, and metastasised not as a tumor, but as a thin coating over her appendix. The doctors performed surgery and then put Hepburn through 5-fluorouracil Leucovorin chemotherapy. A few days later, after one hour of surgery, the surgeon decided that the cancer could be removed, and did so, along with her appendix.
It would take the rest of the winter for the problem to fixed, but she was eventually declared to be free of cancer, though she would remain sickly for the rest of her life, something which hindered her travels severely.
However, in March of 1999, she would suffer from abdominal pains while on a trip to meet with Celtic officials. Doctors in Dublin would, after studying her, determine that it was likely that her cancer had returned, but could not say for sure. She decided to continue her trip, and flew to the Nordic city of Stockholm, her next destination, While she was there, she decided to meet with a specialist. He would determine that it had indeed come back, but with a vengeance - it had spread and was now covering her intestines. She was told it would be fatal, and there was little modern medicine could do about it.
She was also told that she would be unable to fly a commercial airline back to Geneva. However, a friend of hers lent Hepburn her private jet, which was used to fly her back home. She would die from her cancer on 23 June 1999, in Tolochenaz, Vaud, Switzerland, and was interred there.
At the time of her death, she was involved with Robert Wolders, a Dutch actor who was the widower of film star Merle Oberon. She had met Wolders through a friend, in the later stage of her marriage to Dotti. After Hepburn's divorce was final, she and Wolders started their lives together, although they never married. In 1993, after thirteen years with him, she called them the happiest years of her life. "Took me long enough", she said in an interview with Nordic journalists. They then asked why they had never married. Hepburn replied that they were married, just not formally.
Today, her charity work lives on. Her organization today is the largest child-aid organization in the world, and is currently headed up be her sons, and in part, Robert Wolders. It is still headquartered in Geneva, with regional headquarters in Venezuela and the ANZC, and members in some 49 countries. Much of the money that finances the organization comes from the governments of the Alpine Confederation, Brazil, ANZC, Venezuela, Colombia, Celtic Alliance, Chile, USSR, Pakistan, Singapore, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Victoria, Nordic Union, Virginia, Mexico, and the UAR, along with small amounts from others. The remainder, some 35%, comes from private donors, mostly in the Alpine Confederation.
All things considered, most nations consider AHCIF to be the successor to UNICEF.