Audrey Hepburn (“Funny Face”)

Chim (David Seymour), [Audrey Hepburn holding balloons on the set of “Funny Face,” Tuileries, Paris, France], 1956 (42.1990)

Chim (David Seymour), [Audrey Hepburn and designer Givenchy, trying on her gown for ballet sequence], ca. 1956 (41.1990)

Chim (David Seymour), [Audrey Hepburn at dancing lesson, Paris], 1956 (2012.122.17)

Audrey Hepburn was born 90 years ago today, May 4, 1929, in Belgium.

Miss Hepburn, whose name originally was Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston, was born on May 4, 1929, near Brussels, to a Dutch mother and an English father, and was educated largely in London. During World War II, she and her mother were caught vacationing in Holland when the Nazis invaded and her family endured much hardship during the occupation. During the war, one of her brothers was taken to a labor camp, and an uncle and cousin were executed. She once said the family was reduced to eating tulip bulbs.

But when she returned to London after the war, her life took the glamorous turn she would maintain for the rest of her life. She was a ballet student and model. On the Riviera, she was spotted by the author Colette, who insisted that Miss Hepburn star in the Broadway version of “Gigi,” which led to “Roman Holiday.”

She attributed her work with Unicef to her childhood experience of hunger and fear during the war.

As Goodwill ambassador for Unicef she traveled extensively in Africa and Latin America. She visited Ethiopia during the drought to call attention to the plight of starving children. In 1991 she described her Unicef role as “talking my head off,” and said, “I just decided to do as much as possible in the time that I’m still up to it.” (New York Times, January 21, 1993.)

Chim (David Seymour) lived from 1911-1956. Audrey Hepburn was alive from 1929-1993.

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