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She just had a presence, an energy, a sort of light coming from her that was overwhelming.’ -Kevyn Aucoin Audrey was a young girl during the Nazi occupation of her native Holland--engulfed by the inhumanity, death, and destruction of war. She was hungry, malnourished and her well-to-do family was impoverished as a result of the invasion. Audrey’s father abandoned the family, and two of her uncles were taken away and shot dead. Audrey was grabbed off the street by machine-gun wielding Nazis and placed on line to be loaded on a bus bound for a work camp. When the guards glanced away she ran off, barely escaping, and hid in a cold, dark, rat infested basement for a week, afraid to come out. The little girl who became the Audrey Hepburn the world loved and admired, confronted life’s horrors and fragility firsthand. Yet she refused to allow the devastating reality to impoverish her spirit. Instead she appreciated life’s value and treasured each day. She invested her time and energy in hyper-intensifying her strengths and made ‘everything into an asset.’ Throughout her life she remained
grounded in her spiritual conceptions of simplicity, perfection and grace. The elements of elegance. After the war, Audrey and her mother fled Holland and arrived in London with little money. Her dream of becoming a prima ballerina drove her rigorous training at the renown Rambert ballet school. When her best efforts couldn’t overcome the formative instruction lost in the years of war, her dream seemed lost. But where there is passionate drive, self-discipline and determination--there are miracles. Miraculous forces intervened with a bigger plan for Audrey than she’d envisioned for herself. A producer saw the ‘Unknown little dancer girl’ and gave her a screen test for Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck, then one of Hollywood’s leading men. He was so charmed by Audrey that he insisted that she be given top billing with him, an unheard of honor for a newcomer. He said, ‘That girl is going to win an Oscar her first time out.’ And she did. By portraying an ethereal, porcelain-like princess who escapes her gilded cage to fly free and experience life’s ordinary pleasures on an escapade in Rome. Audrey cast an irresistible spell that brought the screen to luminous life, and enchants us still. In just a few short years, by knowing and strengthening her truest self, Audrey was transformed from malnourished war waif to an internationally acclaimed Academy Award winning star. Then, the famous French writer Collette glimpsed Audrey as she glided through a hotel in the South of France. As director Billy Wilder said, ‘Audrey walked beautifully, she spoke beautifully. God kissed her on her cheek and there she was.’ Colette exclaimed, ‘There’s my Gigi!’ And Audrey, an untrained actress, having just received an Oscar for her first starring role in a film, shone so bright in her first Broadway play that she tilted an avalanche of good things to her. Audrey’s ultimate art form was her own existence. She devoted zenlike concentration to whatever she did. At a time when busty, sexy blondes ruled the day, ultra-svelte Audrey did not believe that she was beautiful. But she had confidence in her authenticity. With it she stole every scene, and every heart, and her allure soared. Her classic films still make the world sigh. Added to her Oscar for ‘Roman Holiday’ were four Academy Award nominations, a posthumous Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award Oscar, a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, two
Tonys, three Golden Globes, including one as the female choice for World Film Favorite. Though never concerned with status or prizes, she won over 50 international awards for her film and humanitarian work. Audrey married twice and had two sons for whom she was a devoted mother and friend. She suffered from her two divorces, and from a lingering sadness her whole life from the war. Yet, in Switzerland she made a personal paradise in her home ‘La Plasible’--place of peace. She lived simply and shunned fancy parties and requests for interviews to opt for work in her garden with her beloved flowers. She relished playing with her dogs, taking long, vigorous walks in nature and preparing colorful, healthful meals. Friends said that Audrey had a complete lack of ego and the elegance to stay in her own skin, and in the moment. She accepted and appreciated others as they were. She listened to each individual and situation with a new heart, and greeted everyone she met as a friend, with bright-eyed enthusiasm. And spoke in either fluent French, Italian, Dutch, English or German in a gentle, warm, charming voice that could entice angels away from heavenly spheres. Audrey met her soulmate and steadfast love of her last 12 years in Robert Wolders. Together they made an elegant Act Three when in 1988 Audrey became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, a role that Director Billy Wilder said ‘She was made for by God.’ Audrey was offered three million dollars to pen her autobiography, but instead she accepted one dollar from UNICEF. Then for seven months out of each of her remaining last five years, she and Robby left the peace and beauty in Switzerland to venture into the nightmares on earth. In Enitrea, Bangladesh, Sudan, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Kenya, Ethiopia, Central and South America, and Somalia too. And though Audrey usually shunned giving speeches, she eagerly spoke for UNICEF (www.unicefusa.org) because it would help children. Robby said that though he knew the texts of Audrey’s speeches, he was still moved to tears by the ‘purity, innocence and vulnerability yet utter conviction’ of her delivery. Audrey made over fifty emotionally grueling and physically dangerous missions into bleak locales to raise world awareness. She herself understood what it was to be an innocent victim of Nazi occupation, and to have life revived when aid groups came in after the war to provide food, clothing, and renewed hope.
Audrey was angry that hundreds of millions of childhoods were emptied of simple joys and drowned in overwhelming depravation. She felt an urgent drive to restore children, and believed that we shared collective responsibility to alleviate suffering: ‘When you deny childhood, you deny life.’ And today, more than ever, spirit-numbing poverty, hunger, and enslavement of people has resulted from the economic and social chaos caused by global mega-capitalist racketeers who in league with corrupt, bribed leaders, facilitate the hijacking of public resources, and siphon off humanitarian aid, including IMF loaned funds. The very banks that lend the aid with strict demands and dire social consequences, then launder the stolen funds, and demand titanic debt repayment for aid that never reached the people. These mega-million dollar scams ensure continued cycles of despair. Audrey was astutely aware of the world’s problems, and dedicated her efforts where she could make a difference. She saw UNICEF’s work in over 100 developing nations as a highly effective force in people’s lives. UNICEF vaccinates a child for life for $5.00; for 84 cents a year it can prevent the blindness caused by vitamin A deficiencies; or for 6 cents prevent death from dehydration for the 1.5 billion people on earth who lack clean water. There are over 100 million street children on the planet, and UNICEF helps educate to reduce overpopulation. Audrey said of UNICEF’s results, what echoed her own life: ‘Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles isn’t being a realist.’ Audrey was suddenly stricken by a virulent cancer. She, Robby and her sons, Sean and Luca, returned to La Plasible for their last Christmas together. Audrey said it her best ever. Hubert de Givenchy spoke to his adored lifelong friend for the last time, finding her, ‘serene at the end because she knew she had achieved everything with perfection.’ Audrey was appropriately compared with having the ‘serenity of a perfect white rose.’ Roses signify the Garden of the Blessed. And white symbolizes transcendent perfection, simplicity, light, purity, the triumph of the spirit over the physical. Audrey thought that love could cure any travail. It was said of her that ‘elle a trace sur terre un sillon d’amour’ she traced the earth with furrows of love. Audrey’s spiritual elegance was an emblem of faith. In herself. In the goodness of life. In the dignity of every
individual. In the eternity of love. In the certainty of miracles. Thanks for reading, Suzanne http://bit.ly/DbPaj