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Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Audrey! [5 Things I Love]

Today is the birthday of one my very favorite actresses and all time favorite people - Audrey Hepburn!

Happy birthday, Audrey!

"In Greek myth - among the most ancient of the Western religious histories - you would have to compare Audrey to Hestia, goddess of the hearth, for whom the family home was her main concern and, by extension, every home.

"Saint Audrey seems quite appropriate to me - for she in her life and work she was born to show the world that true grace and innocence, human kindness and hope, still can exist on earth. 

"Whenever the lines didn't quite suit her, she would alter them and they always sounded better her way. Often I would compliment her by saying, 'That's not the line, but it's better that way.' And invariable she would say, 'Oh isn't it? I thought it was. I'll say it the way you want - I thought it was that line.' And I'd always have to reassure her that her rewrite, instinctual or conscious, was an improvement. But she invariably claimed ignorance of any difference and repeatedly said she'd do it my way. I never let her."

- Peter Bogdonavich, director


#5: Regardless of what anyone says, she could act

It's sad that so few, especially in the Old Hollywood community, are willing to admit that Audrey Hepburn could act. I hear this all the time: "Audrey was a great person, but am I going to say that she is a good actress? Definitely not. There are so many better actresses." Perhaps Audrey was not the greatest screen actress to ever grace film, but saying she cannot act is not only unfair, it makes the person who says so look stupid. The two actresses that seem to always be in competition with each other and get the most backlash from classic film fans are Audrey Hepburn & Marilyn Monroe, for obvious reasons. Many fans will stick to one actress and totally blacklist the other, and those who prefer Marilyn often make such statements about Audrey. Now, I'm not a Marilyn fan and Audrey is one of my very favorites, but am I going to say that Marilyn could not act? Certainly not. Under a good director, she gave some great performances, like in Some Like it Hot (1958). Audrey could act. She won an Oscar for her first leading role in an American film. This was way before her posters were hung on sorority dorm walls & lunchboxes with her face on it were sold. She could act, get over it, and if you can't you're just jealous. 

1953: Audrey Hepburn Sabrina hair and makeup test.  “God kissed her on the cheek,” Billy Wilder once said, “and there she was.”

#4: The characters she played

Audrey has played so many of my favorite screen characters. The roles she picked were nearly always women that were sophisticated and stylish, and to me, an epitome of class and grace: and what I aspire to be when I grow up. To name just a few: Sabrina Fairchild in Sabrina (1954), Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (1953), Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Arianne in Love in the Afternoon (1957). Audrey antagonists (the same ones that argue that she cannot act) say that all her characters are the same. Perhaps these characters exhibited many of the same qualities (the ones I listed back in the second sentence), but Audrey always seemed to give each role personality and life, making each one original and fresh every time.


#3: Audrey, the fashion plate

Like any true Audrey Hepburn fan, I will always insist that she is more than a fashion plate. Much more, which is true, as I have expressed in the latter reasons. Still, I must admit, Audrey Hepburn is one of, if not the greatest, fashion icons. She seemed to understand fashion inside out, most often pooling her ideas with her favorite designer, Givenchy. If there is an actress I most aspire to dress like, it’s Audrey. Her “casual style” was a pair of leggings, a sweater, and flats, which is what I like to wear around the house. This is not to ignore the many gorgeous gowns she wore. Though the most memorable of all is certainly the black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Audrey wore a multitude of other beautiful formals in all her films, and there isn’t a single one I wouldn’t like to have in my closet!

#2: The elegance & grace she radiated

Elegance & grace are skills that some spend years to achieve, and for others, it seems to come naturally. Audrey Hepburn was one of those people. Every little motion of hers was done in the utmost sophistication, from the little tilt of her head to her walk. And not just in her motions, but the way she interacted with others. She really brings personification of what it means to be classy. Whenever I watch an interview or read quote of hers, it seems just as if she knows exactly what to say and when to say it. And it seems that, when she spoke, she always made it feel as if it was a pleasure to be in your company. 

#1: Her humanitarian work

Perhaps her greatest achievement in her arguably short life, the work she did in Africa towards the end of her life tops off the reasons why I love her as a human and not just an actress. I think it was perhaps her own childhood in Europe during World War II that inspired her to help starving, impoverished children. I think she herself would consider this her crowning achievement out of everything she had accomplished, including her Oscar and all the other acting awards. I think the honest effort she put into helping these children proves that she really had a heart of gold, and was truly a lovely person, the sort who believed in pink and kissing often and laughing a lot.


A quote by Audrey that sums up me and my personality:

"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."


“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” 


Dani said...

I love how mad you got talking about #5 :)

Kristen said...

Happy birthday Audrey!

KimWilson said...

I agree that she was great humanitarian, who had both elegance and great taste in clothes. I cannot agree that she was a great actress--but she could act. She had screen presence (this is what she shares with Monroe). I have to agree with those who criticize her for playing the same character type over and over again. Still, when she did step out of the role of sophisticate (or sophisticate-in-waiting) she did well.

Rianna said...

Haha, it irritates me to death. I don't understand why people can't just accept she was a good actress and move on. (:

Rianna said...

I'm glad you agree with me on some of the points! But for what you bring up, I must add -

Marilyn & Audrey both had screen presence, though Monroe's was based on sex and Hepburn's on her elegance. Therefore I think it's silly they are forever linked together; it's not their faults they were iconized to death.

It's ridiculous to criticize her for playing the same character type "over and over again." That's what the star system was. Can you name one star that was not typecast? Studios "owned" these stars and built for them an onscreen personality, one that was often reflective of their offscreen dispositions, which is what made them film stars - it's also what separated movie stars from character actors. Character actors were the ones that varied their roles, but film stars play roles of the same type because that's what makes them stars.

For example: Greer Garson playing the Miniver-style English lady, Joan Crawford (having played flappers in her early days) as the tortured woman of film noir, Bette Davis as the domineering screen presence, Katharine Hepburn as the independent, liberated woman, Doris Day as the fluffy girl next door with 'a smile and a song'. Even such "versatile" actresses as Deborah Kerr & Barbara Stanwyck had molds: Deborah as the proper lady, Stanwyck as a wise-cracking, tough as nails sort of girl.

And, one must bear in mind, the studios most often decided which roles these actors would play and many times they didn't have a say. To accuse Audrey alone of playing the same character is unfair. Everyone, though some more obvious than others, was a product of typecasting.

Kate Gorman said...

I LOVE Audrey Hepburn too! She was so stylish and classy!

I own these films on DVD:

Roman Holiday
Funny Face
Breakfast At Tiffany's
Paris When It Sizzles
My Fair Lady
I love her in all these films. I love her costumes too. She is my heroine! :) xx

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