How cool was it to discover the morning of May 4th — when I’m getting Facebook Star Wars messages of “May the fourth be with you” — that May 4 is the birthday of actress Audrey Hepburn, and that Google was highlighting it on the home page.
Yes, this was the internet action the day before Cinco de Mayo. Google posted the sweetest graphic of Hepburn, my favorite actress ever, in honor of her birthday. Hepburn would have been 85. How I wish she were still around.
I’d first come across the article in The Guardian, written by Alex Cox, headlining Google’s tribute. When I clicked on the graphic on the Google home page (and I wonder how many of you did?), there was the automatic listing of fabulous articles and references about Audrey Hepburn, her life and career.
I loved browsing among the stories in this collection. Richard Corliss of Time magazine (Audrey Hepburn: Still the Fairest Lady) beautifully stated:
Hepburn, born on May 4, 1929, died 14 years ago today, and her ostensibly anachronistic glamour might have died with her. Yet it’s that regality, along with her relentless generosity of spirit, that keeps her alive, burnishes her glow.
He spoke of her opinion of herself:
Maybe one reason she was so lovely was that she didn’t think she was. Voted the “most beautiful woman of all time” by the readers of New Women last year, Audrey had no high opinion of herself, her looks, her performance skills.
It’s hard to imagine that she was just 63 when she died or that it was 14 years ago. Seeing Google’s tribute to this iconic woman of the 20th Century made me smile. As a young girl, growing up very skinny and always feeling self-conscious about it, and un-beautiful, the Audrey Hepburn could work her magic on my heart and soul.
The strength of character she portrayed in that diminutive frame inspired me, not only to look for beauty in unconventional places, but to internalize the meaning of elegance, in a way. Audrey Hepburn was grace personified, to my mind.
It was a grace that you knew developed because of her family’s struggles during World War II, and the underlying compassion that grew within her. One day she would become the voice of UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund).
On her official site AudreyHepburn.com you’ll find an overview of her life and career, as well as a page for donation to her Children’s Fund.
In her Huffington Post blog — Happy Birthday, Audrey Hepburn! Time-Tested Beauty and Humanitarian —Michelle Chanine quotes Hepburn’s son Sean Ferrer, speaking of his mother’s last words after being diagnosed with termimal abdominal cancer, just three months earlier:
‘I don’t understand why there is so much suffering for the children,’ she said before closing her eyes for the last time, according to Ferrer. These final words reaffirmed her lifelong crusade for children’s rights. They also signified that Audrey Hepburn knew how and when she was going to die.
Her final act, writes Chanine, was a mission to Somalia in September 1992 as the ambassador for UNICEF (United Nations International Children Fund). The press, still enchanted by the Hollywood legend, drew attention to the Somali issue and awakened the world into action.
I find it fascinating that the world still loves Hepburn’s enduring elegance and style, a vision of loveliness to her legion of fans, yet as Chanine points out in her article:
According to her son’s accounts, the woman famous for her striking looks often found herself ugly and didn’t see health or beauty as physical things. Her favorite poem was Sam Levenson’s “Time Tested Beauty Tips,” which begins, “For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the beauty in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry…” She lived her life by these words and strived for simplicity.
It is this simplicity, this elegance, this graciousness that we strive for in our personal lives, but how often do we achieve it? How often are we truly living examples of what we aspire to be?
Seeing these accounts of Audrey Hepburn, as we give tribute in what would have been her 85th year, makes me pause and wonder… what might she have achieved during these last two decades?
It’s good to take a moment to celebrate our heroes and heroines, and to honor their achievements. It’s good to take a moment to ponder what we aspire to within ourselves, what kind of example we are being for our families, friends, and our children. What kind of legacy will we leave?
The Audrey Hepburn IMDb site features a mini-biography with facts that don’t surprise me, but that I hadn’t known. Quoting Denny Jackson: She was named to People’s magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. Her last film was Always (1989) in 1989….. She had made a total of 31 high qualitymovies. Her elegance and style will always be remembered in film history as evidenced by her being named in Empire magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time.”
Discovering the tribute by Google to Audrey Hepburn trumped my fun with the Star Wars May the 4th be With You day, circulating on the social media. I love Star Wars. I’m a longtime fan. And if I were to think of someone in the context of May the Force be With You, I’m thinking I might picture Audrey Hepburn.
Somehow, you understand that she was riding that force and trusting it to take her where she was meant to be. And with it she turned obstacles into stepping stones, creating a life that was a beautiful legacy.
I’m glad to be reminded of Hepburn’s effect on her fans and on me. I think I’ll check out some of those film classics that I haven’t seen for a long time. Hmmm… My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Nun’s Story, Love in the Afternoon, and maybe especially her last film, Always.