We’ve all been there. We find somebody we admire and we search the internet for information about that person. Unfortunately, some people never learn more about Audrey Hepburn than just her name, her quotes, and her most iconic role; causing rumours and misconceptions to spread like wildfire.
In a quest to stop the spread of these rumours, this week’s Top 5 explores the rumours, misconceptions and falsities about Audrey Hepburn, and the truth behind them:
1. Audrey Hepburn had an eating disorder
Audrey Hepburn never had an eating disorder. Her thin frame is a result of spending her developing years in war-torn Holland during World War II. In the last winter of the War, when Audrey was 16, all food was cut off and citizens survived on grass, tulips, and anything else they could bake into food. Coupled with this starvation was Audrey’s training as a ballerina. Notoriously strict when it comes to food, Audrey ate foods to help build her strength. The thin frame stuck for most of her life, except during pregnancies, because the effects of WWII on Audrey’s body left her with quick metabolism and a constant struggle to keep on weight.
For anyone who believes this, or spreads it on the internet, think of it this way: would you want someone to spread rumours about your eating habits?
2. Audrey Hepburn was born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston
Audrey Hepburn was indeed born Audrey Kathleen Ruston. Hepburn was added later, before WWII out, by Audrey’s father, who found it in the family tree (the Hepburn line had died out), thought it sounded posh, and added it to his surname. Because of the laws back then, Hepburn was automatically added to Audrey’s name too. As for ‘van Heemstra,’ it was Audrey’s mother’s surname.
When WWII broke out, fearing that Audrey could be in danger for having an English-sounding name, Audrey’s mother, Ella, changed Audrey’s identifications to read ‘Edda van Heemstra’, coming up with Edda by reimagining her own first name. During this time, Audrey was forbidden from speaking English, and went by Edda.
3. Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn were sisters (related; mother and daughter; aunt and niece; etc.)
Though they share first-rate acting skills, stunning beauty, birthdays in May, and important places in the pantheon of film history, the similarities end there for Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn. A common misconception that these actresses are somehow related has persisted ever since Audrey came to prominence in the ‘50s. Katharine was the daughter of blue-blooded Americans; Audrey was the daughter of Dutch nobility. Their family lines do not intersect.
The two became pen pals in the ‘60s, after My Fair Lady was released; and Katharine famously wrote to Audrey after she failed to receive an Oscar nod for her role as Eliza Doolittle.
And though they’re not related, they’re the only Best Actress winners to share a last name, even though Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine have each won Best Actress and they’re blood sisters (‘Fontaine’ is a stage name, but that’s a story for another day…).
4. Audrey Hepburn leapt from her seat and announced, “Over my dead body!” when studio executives planned to cut ‘Moon River’ from Breakfast at Tiffany’s
There are biographies that state this happened; and there are biographies that state Audrey wasn’t even in the room when ‘Moon River’ was brought up. In a case of studio spin and public relations, it’s hard to say if we’ll ever fully know what happened with the whole debacle; but one thing’s for sure: ‘Moon River’ has become one of the most beloved movie songs of all time, and Audrey’s version is lauded by the song’s composer, Henry Mancini, as being the best out of all the different versions.
5. Audrey Hepburn married Robbie Wolders
Although they loved each other very much, Audrey and Robbie were never married. They maintained a close relationship and partnership from the ’80s until Audrey’s death, and Robbie continues to work on Audrey’s behalf. Robbie was once quoted as saying he wouldn’t put Audrey through another marriage; and Audrey often said they were married — just not legally.