She’s not wearing a picture hat or sunglasses. Nor is she wearing a pearl necklace. With a towel wrapped around her head she’s sitting on the windowsill, looking at the sky. She’s strumming the strings of a small brown guitar. “There’s such a lot of world to see,” Holly Golightly sings. “We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waiting ’round the bend.” The song is Moon River by John Mercer and Henry Mancini. The scene in one of the most memorable ones in the 1961’s hit ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
Audrey Kathleen Ruston was born in Ixelles on the 4th of May, 1929. Her father was Joseph Ruston, the Director of the Brussels branch of the Bank of England, and Ella Van Heemstra. who were married in 1926 and found an apartment at 48 rue Keyenveld, Ixelles. Audrey received British nationality through her father, and much of her childhood was spent in England, Belgium and the Netherlands.
During the WWII period, she wanted to hide her British origins and chose to use the name Edda Van Heemstra. She would eventually settle for Hepburn, which was the surname adopted by her father.
At a young age, she flung herself into her passion: ballet. She was only five when she started taking lessons and continued for several years. During World War II she used her skills to raise money for the Dutch Resistance.
Eventually she would change to theater at the end of the 1940’s. The Broadway play Gigi in 1951 was a success and opened the doors to the big screen. In 1953, at the age of 23, she received an Academy Award for best actress for her role in Roman Holiday. Some of her most successful movies are Sabrina (1954), War and Peace (1956), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), and My Fair Lady (1964).
Over time, the focus of her career shifted toward humanitarian aid. She visited Africa and Latin America several times for UNICEF — she became a Goodwill Ambassador in 1981. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in December 1992. The same year she was diagnosed with a form of abdominal cancer. Audrey Hepburn died at her home in Switzerland on the 20th of January, 1993, at the age of 63.