Extraordinary Women: Audrey Hepburn
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Credit: BBC

Watch Monday, October 6, 2014 at 10pm on WMHT TV.

Audrey Hepburn was one of the most stylish women the world has ever seen, and she took Hollywood by storm. Winning an Oscar for her first major film role in Roman Holiday, she went on to star in the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the huge box office hit, My Fair Lady. Her natural, effortless beauty charmed millions. Audrey was more than just a movie star – she was a fashion icon the world over.

But behind the glamour was a life marked by tragedy and loss. When Audrey was just 6 years old her father walked out on the family. His abandonment haunted her for the rest of her life. She endured the horrors of the Nazi-occupation in wartime Holland, and aged just 12 years old, Audrey witnessed the deportations of Jewish families to the death camps.

In 1945, the joy of liberation brought with it the harsh reality that her dreams of becoming a professional ballerina had been crushed. Her near starvation through Holland’s Hunger Winter had left her without a dancer’s body or a dancer’s strength. But it quickly became clear that it was only a matter of time before she would become a movie star.

A hugely successful film career followed, and even through the joys of the birth of her two children and the sadness surrounding her two divorces, Audrey Hepburn would never forget the terrible suffering during the war, nor those humanitarian organisations who saved her from it.

In 1988, Audrey Hepburn was able to repay her debt of gratitude when she became a Special Ambassador for UNICEF. And in what was to be the last few years of a life cut short by cancer, she travelled to some of the poorest regions in the world, dedicating her life to making the world a better place for children.